Civil Wars and Revolution in the Sudan is a collection of twenty essays written over forty years between 1962 and 2004 on the Sudan, southern Sudan, and Darfur. Throughout these four decades civil war has raged in the southern Sudan that has cost more than two million dead and another six million refugees and Internally Displaced Persons. No one can imagine the amount of human suffering this conflict has produced. Now, after a decade of ambivalent and frustrating negotiations, a peace agreement between the Sudan People's Liberation Movement and the Government of the Sudan has finally been signed on 9 January 2005, leaving in its wake a devastated southern Sudan â€” its infrastructure completely destroyed, its fragile economy in ruins, and its people exhausted after nearly half a century of fierce fighting.
Although these twenty essays include such topics as nation-building, the dynamics of racial, ethnic, cultural, and religious identity, the politics of oil, and the legacy of slavery, most of them are concerned with conflict in the Sudan, its participants, and the reasons why and it began and has continued for so long. Since these essays were written and are presented here in chronological order, the aggregate becomes a unique history of the Sudan's terrible civil war that cannot be found elsewhere. Moreover, each essay is self-contained, but the recurrent themes that have dominated the independent Sudan are woven into the text, revealing new insights into the history of these tumultuous decades.
This impressive collection has made an unsurpassed contribution to Sudan studies that go far beyond the author's interests as a historian by the sheer diversity and breadth of his subjects, both past and present. In all the essays, however, the reader will discover his deep commitment to find a common identity in which all Sudanese, despite their immense diversity, can find a sense of being and dignity as equals. The perception by the dominant Arab-Islamist establishment in the north insists that the national identity is Arab by descent, Arabic-speaking, and culturally Arabized when their visible, ethnic, and cultural characteristics clearly demonstrate an Afro-Arab character. Nevertheless, their efforts to impose their self-perception on all Sudanese has led to the discrimination and marginalization of all those, Muslim and non-Muslim, who do not fit their Arab-Islamic mould. This very difficult problem of identity, "who are the Sudanese," appears repeatedly in these essays to be treated with great sensitivity and compassion by the author. Although he remains unforgiving about the harsh geographical realities of the Sudan and consistently demonstrates his dismay at the quality of leadership in the various independent governments, he is steadfast in his generous and affectionate treatment of the Sudanese and his unswerving devotion to them.