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Capsule Review

Combatants: A Memoir of the Bush War and the Press in Uganda

In This Review

Combatants: A Memoir of the Bush War and the Press in Uganda
Combatants: A Memoir of the Bush War and the Press in Uganda
By William Pike
Self-Published, 2019, 304 pp. Purchase

In 1984, Pike, then a London-based journalist fresh out of college, used expatriate Ugandan connections to arrange access to the camps of the National Resistance Army in the central Ugandan bush, where the group was fighting a guerrilla war against the regime of Milton Obote, under the leadership of a 40-year-old Yoweri Museveni. Pike’s reports in the British press, which documented atrocities perpetrated by the Ugandan government and cast the NRA in a favorable light, helped the group gain credibility in the West. In 1986, when Museveni came to power, he invited Pike to edit the government newspaper, the New Vision, promising him editorial independence. For two decades, Pike ran the paper, turning it into Uganda’s newspaper of record, before the regime’s growing authoritarianism forced him out. Pike tells the story well, mixing his personal experiences with an analysis of the last 30 years of Ugandan history. He follows his detailed account of the nasty civil war of the 1980s with a perceptive look at the Museveni regime, from its early informal idealism to the ossified personal dictatorship of today.

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