The Ambiguous Genocide

Part of the Crises in World Politics series
July 2005 9781850657705 264pp


In mid-2004 the Darfur crisis in Western Sudan forced itself on to the centre stage of world affairs. A formerly obscure ‘tribal conflict’ in the heart of Africa has escalated into what could be the first genocide of the twenty-first century. Its characteristics – Arabism, Islamism, African consciousness, famine as a weapon of war, mass rape, international obfuscation and a refusal to look evil squarely in the face – reflect many of the problems of the global South in general and Africa in particular.

Because of the urgent need for knowledge about this humanitarian catastrophe, journalistic explanations of the unfolding crisis have often been rushed and given to hurried generalisations and inaccuracies. Darfur: The Ambiguous Genocide explains what lies behind the conflict, how it came about, why it should not be over-simplified and why it is so relevant to the future of the continent.

Prunier sets out the ethnopolitical make up of the Sudan and explains why the Darfur rebellion is regarded as a key threat to Arab power in the country, much more so than the secessionism of the Christian south. This, he argues, accounts for the government’s deployment of ‘exemplary violence’ by the Janjaweed militias in order to cow other Black Muslims into subservience.


‘A passionate and highly readable account of the current tragedy that combines intimate knowledge of the region’s history, politics, and sociology with a telling cynicism about the polite but ineffectual diplomatic efforts to end it. It is the best account available of the Darfur crisis.’ — Foreign Affairs

‘A fierce logic at the service of a powerful moral purpose’. — The Guardian

‘Rightly treats with scorn the monumental humbug displayed by the outside world towards this tragedy’. — The Telegraph

‘Anyone attempting to understand Darfur’s intricate aspects of African consciousness and Arabian manifest destiny will appreciate this careful study’. — Nairobi Arts Review

‘Prunier’ book is as impressive as the sheer audacity of his message: eleven years after the genocide in Rwanda, it is as if nothing has been learnt by the United Nations and the African Union’. — Africa Today

‘Essential for anyone wanting to learn about this complex conflict’ — The Library Journal



Gérard Prunier is a renowned historian of contemporary Africa, author of, inter alia, the acclaimed The Rwanda Crisis: History of a Genocide and of The Country That Does Not Exist: A History of Somaliland, both published by Hurst.  

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