an apt description
Now that my dissertation is finished and defended and the all-important signature page is being overnighted around the country (Thank goodness Committee Member #4 made it back from Afghanistan alive!), I actually have time to read books. On any topic I want. Without guilt.
So of course I'm halfway through a book on the European exploration of Timbuktu, just starting Mahmood Mamdani's Darfur book, and am in the middle of Gerard Prunier's fantastic new book on the Congo wars. Prunier's work was released too late to cite in my dissertation, but so far, this is the best book on Congo I've read. Period. It's dense and full of insightful analysis about regional dynamics, the culture of violence, and the importance of particular personalities in driving events.
It's also hilarious. (If you're a central Africanist, anyway.) Check out Prunier's description of professional Angolan rebel Jonas Savimbi's PR problem:
"...he had concentrated in his persona a near-perfect cornucopia of all the contradictory evils of postmodern demonology: Maoism, Salazar's fascism, South Africa's apartheid, Ronald Reagan, the CIA, and antiwhite racism, and, last but not least, he had dared to threaten U.S. oil companies in 1992. Short of being a Nazi child molester, it is hard to do worse in terms of political image."I'll post a full review of the book's substance in a few days.