Yemen Endures

Civil War, Saudi Adventurism and the Future of Arabia

May 2017 9781849048057 320pp
EU Customers


Why is oil-rich Saudi Arabia involved in a costly and merciless war against neighbouring Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East? Why, with billions of dollars of British and American weapons, have the Saudis lost the upper hand to the Houthi rebels?

In this first authoritative account of the present conflict, Ginny Hill delves into a country still dominated by the pernicious influence of career dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh, who masterminded patronage networks that kept the state weak, allowing conflict and inequality to flourish. After three decades, he was forced from office by street protests in 2011. In the chaos following his departure, civil war and regional interference plague the country. While the Saudis battle the Houthis—whom they believe are backed by Iran—ISIS, Al-Qaeda and separatist groups compete to exploit the broken state.

This fascinating portrait of modern Yemen vividly reveals the key personalities and events of the last thirty years, and how—despite everything—Yemen endures.

Table of contents


Map of Yemen





  1. The Last Imam: The 1962 Revolution in the Yemen Arab Republic


  1. Victor’s Peace: End of the Cold War, Unification and 1994 Civil War


  1. An Illusory State: Parliamentary Politics and Presidential Patronage


  1. Giraffe Army: AK-47s, Arms Dealers and Warlords


  1. Across the Gulf: Piracy and People- Smuggling from the Horn of Africa


  1. The Chicken and the Egg: Elite Competition, Corruption and Reform


  1. Layla and the Madman: Yemen’s Role in the Origins of Al-Qaeda


  1. Shadow War: US Cruise Missiles and Drones


  1. Southern Discomfort: Birth of the Southern Separatist Movement(s)


  1. Black Box: Houthi-Led Insurgency in the Northern Province of Saada


  1. Change Square: Youth Activists and the 2011 Uprising


  1. Sheep Stealers: Elite Rivalry and Urban Warfare


  1. Breaking the Bones: Politics of Balance and the Transition of Power


  1. The Interregnum: Hadi’s Failure and the Rise of the Houthis


  1. Saleh’s Revenge: The Return to Power






‘[A] vivid and balanced account.’ — The Times Literary Supplement

‘Yemen — a country of multiple realities, complex, layered, and explosive, where some of the hungriest people in the world strive to live. Ginny Hill is a rare outsider who has lived the country, she is superbly seasoned in its physical and political terrain. Her book is a revelation.’ — Jon Snow, Channel 4 News

‘Highly engaging and well written.’ — Bustan: The Middle East Book Review

‘A compelling and detailed account . . . combining a journalist’s flair with the deep expertise from more than a decade of living in, working on and writing about Yemen, Hill weaves together the stories of Yemenis from several hundred interviews in a style that is both engaging and accessible.’ — International Affairs

‘This is an extremely fine journalistic account of the turbulence in contemporary Yemen . . . provides a distinct perspective on the factors that allow Yemen to continue to exist . . . a fine read for anyone unfamiliar with Yemen to get up to speed in understanding the country.’ – Choice

‘Ginny Hill’s detailed and highly readable account […] is indispensable to understanding the story so far. […] Hill is impressive proof that academic rigour, patient and persistent reporting, good contacts and fine writing are not mutually exclusive. Her book is full of vivid insights enriched by far deeper knowledge than can be accumulated during a brief visit.’ — Ian Black, LSE blog

‘Written with the fluid cadence of a former journalist, it offers a highly accessible and important entry point for readers new to the history and politics of Yemen but also includes content that will help more seasoned readers better under- stand some long-standing puzzles . . . a well-written work of wide scope on questions of great urgency.’ — Middle East Journal

‘[Hill] use[s] her deep knowledge and experience of Yemen to not only explain the complexities of the current conflict, but also places them in an historical and social context . . . deeply emotive and engaging . . . Telling the story of Yemen and the wider region through this powerful yet still journalistic prose makes for a genuine page turner.’ — Chartist

‘The most authoritative account of the Yemen tragedy so far. Yemen Endures succeeds where others have failed in giving voice to the Yemeni people. Highly recommended.’ — Christopher Davidson, author of Shadow Wars: The Secret Struggle for the Middle East

Yemen Endures is an invaluable guide to the crisis that has engulfed Yemen, combining history, analysis and vivid first-person testimony — a must-read for anyone who wants to understand this bewilderingly multi-faceted conflict.’ — Robin Lustig, former presenter of The World Tonight on BBC Radio 4 and Newshour on BBC World Service

‘There are all too few books written on Yemen, fewer still that get it right. Hill’s expert guide through the quagmire is both timely and essential. This book achieves that through the author’s rare balance of insight, candour and direct experience to produce a work that will be a marker of how modern Yemen ended up in war and collapse.‘ — Iona Craig, former Times (of London) Yemen correspondent, winner of the Orwell Prize and the Martha Gellhorn Award

‘An eminently readable and highly insightful portrayal of a country in chaos. Hill’s account of Yemen’s history and torturous politics is vividly coloured by her own personal experiences.’ — Mehran Kamrava, author of The Modern Middle East: A Political History Since World War I


Ginny Hill is a visiting fellow in the Middle East Centre at the LSE who has covered Yemen for more than a decade as a journalist and policy advisor. She founded the Chatham House Yemen Forum and recently served on the UN Panel of Experts on Yemen. Hill has worked for al-Jazeera English, the BBC, Channel 4 News and ITV.

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