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London: Macmillan and New York: St. Martin's Press. 223 pp.
This book originated from an international conference held at the University of Oslo in September 1997. It is a collection of contributions by scholars of such diverse disciplines as literature, history, anthropology, sociology, political science and international studies. The African countries discussed include Somalia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Rwanda, Congo-Brazzaville, Angola, and Mozambique. They all experienced severe political dislocation and civil war in recent years. All the contributors to the volume (with the possible exception of Cahen) attempt to downgrade the importance of ethnicity as the cause of the protracted violent conflicts that have ravaged those countries and sub-Saharan Africa as a whole.
The three editors, two of whom have also contributed separate chapters to the volume, jointly wrote the introductory and concluding chapters in which they quite successfully tie together, in a common explanatory scheme, the different issues raised in the various chapters. As a result, the book achieves greater unity and consistency than is usually found in edited volumes of conference papers.
The Introduction sets the main explanatory framework of the book (its main points are …