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Johnson, Douglas H. THE ROOT CAUSES OF SUDAN'S CIVIL WARS: PEACE OR TRUCE. 5th edition. Oxford: James Currey; Kampala: Fountain Publishers. 236 pp.
Douglas H. Johnson's The Root Causes of Sudan's Civil Wars: Peace or Truce is a masterful analytical history of the long-running war between northern and southern Sudan. It was this confrontation that helped propel several of Sudan's other peripheral regions into conflict with its political center. In the fifth edition of his book, the author updates his diagnosis of Sudan's inequalities and the history of its multiple civil conflicts with reflections on the implementation of Sudan's 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).
The present version of the book includes a revised preface, a new final chapter, and an updated chronology of the conflict, included in the appendices. These additions have not dramatically altered Johnson's interpretation of Sudanese history. He presents a clear and reliable explanation for the country's violent past and ongoing political struggles. His text, of which his fifth edition is the most complete, is an excellent, succinct introduction to Sudanese history and politics, especially as the narrative manages to be nuanced and meticulous. While describing people and places in detail, Johnson keeps his argument accessible to a wide audience.
In the book's eleven chapters (plus the substantive preface), Johnson argues that since the nineteenth century, the state in Sudan has maintained an exploitative relationship with its periphery. Exclusionary and repressive politics have persisted across regimes, with the Mahdist, colonial, and postindependence governments …