Sudan The Failure and Division of an African State Second Edition, Revised and Updated Richard Cockett

Publication date:
30 Sep 2016
Yale University Press
344 pages: 197 x 127mm
11 b-w illus.
Sales territories:

Over the past two decades, the situation in Africa’s largest country, Sudan, has progressively deteriorated: the country is in second position on the Failed States Index, a war in Darfur has claimed hundreds of thousands of deaths, President Bashir has been indicted by the International Criminal Court, a forthcoming referendum on independence for Southern Sudan threatens to split the country violently apart.

In this fascinating and immensely readable book, the Africa editor of the Economist gives an absorbing account of Sudan’s descent into failure and what some have called genocide. Drawing on interviews with many of the main players, Richard Cockett explains how and why Sudan has disintegrated, looking in particular at the country’s complex relationship with the wider world. He shows how the United States and Britain were initially complicit in Darfur—but also how a broad coalition of human-rights activists, right-wing Christians, and opponents of slavery succeeded in bringing the issues to prominence in the United States and creating an impetus for change at the highest level.

Richard Cockett is former Africa editor of The Economist. He was previously a senior lecturer in politics and history at the University of London.

"Cockett's account, as befits an editor at the Economist, is unsentimental, well sourced and eminently readable. Not for Cockett the platitudes of western guilt and consequent, pious aid: there are no easy solutions to the problems of Sudan. But a clear understanding of their genesis is a good place to start."—Colin Murphy, The Irish Times

‘In this informative, eminently readable history and analysis of Sudan’s failure as a state, Cockett draws on interviews with many of the main players. There is plenty of blame to go around, he says, citing 'meddling western politicians, over-simplifying activists, spineless African leaders, shamelessly silent Muslim countries … and myopic Sudanese politicians'.’—The Guardian 

"For those readers who know nothing more about the country than what is reported in the Western media, his book will be a revelation."—The Gunboat

“Darfur continues to be a tragically under-addressed international challenge. Cockett’s fine book, then, warrants a grimly wide readership.”—Jonathan Stevenson, Survival

“A fascinating and immensely readable book in which Richard Cockett gives an absorbing account of Sudan’s descent into failure and possible disintegration.”—Elfatih A. AbdelSalam, The Muslim World Book Review 

"Well-researched, beautifully written and thoroughly absorbing, despite the wrenching tragedies [this book] must chronicle.”—George Ayittey, Wall Street Journal

Selected as a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2010 in the the Africa Studies category