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Ruth Iyob has produced an essential volume for the understanding of political development on the Horn. She declares that her book began as an effort to answer what appears to be a simple question: Why did it take so long for Eritrea to emerge into nationhood? She answers not only that question but also the prior question of where the sense of Eritrean nationhood came from to begin with. As Iyob states in the introduction: "It was only during the 1980s, when the single imperative of liberation from Ethiopian hegemonic control emerged to unite the Eritrean factions, that an all-encompassing nationalism was achieved" (p. 3).
This heavily documented account does not fail to convey a sense of the drama of a David versus Goliath encounter:
What is so compelling in this particular narrative from the …