Thursday, August 16, 2012

Book Review: Dancing in the Glory of Monsters

Finished reading the book in my hammock this afternoon.  Read it cover to cover in 5 days

Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa by Jason K. Stearns.
After struggling to get through Gerard Prunier’s Africa’s World War but failing several times, Dancing in the Glory of Monsters was a breeze to read.  Jason Stearns connected the many central African conflicts together to show the complexity of the two Congolese wars but also debunk several theories of why the wars took place, why peace is so hard to achieve, and why the world outside of Africa doesn’t care. 
One of the connections made by Stearns was the personal relationships between Presidents Musevini of Uganda, Kagame of Rwanda, and Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  All three worked together to come to power but fought protracted wars in eastern Congo over resources.  The Tutsi-Hutu conflict also helped define relations throughout the region as Stearns explains Tutsi relations in the region were always in conflict with others.  For example, Tutsi in the Congo who had lived there for generations were always treated as outsiders and during the genocide in Rwanda harassment increased.  After the genocide Hutu-Tutsi conflicts enveloped the region with Rwandan Tutsi forces massacring Hutus and other Congolese who stood in their way.
The book concludes by bringing the reader up to date on how Joseph Kabila, son of Laurent Kabila who was assassinated in 2001, worked to expel Ugandan and Rwandan forces from DRC and formed a government.  All is still not well in eastern Congo and an estimated 5 million people were killed or disappeared during the conflicts. 
This book is a must read as it gives color and personality to the monsters that were key players in these African world wars.

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