A COMPLICATED WAR: The Harrowing of Mozambique by William Finnegan

A COMPLICATED WAR: The Harrowing of Mozambique

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A sobering look at one of Africa's most devastating civil wars, by Finnegan (Dateline Soweto, 1988; Crossing the Line, 1986)--a war whose murky beginnings and stubborn resistance to resolution reflect old ideological conflicts as well as a clash between the modern and the traditional. Finnegan's study began as an unsigned piece in The New Yorker, covering the war from its beginning in 1976 to mid-1991. Defying most conventional wisdom, which has attributed the Mozambique civil war to South African intervention, the author considers peace unlikely, even impossible, despite the end of the cold war, the espousal of a multiparty political system by Mozambique's governing Frelimo party, and the end of the insurgents'South African backing. Ostensibly it is a war between the Marxist-Leninist Frelimo party, which took over Mozambique in 1974 from Portugal, and Renamo, a group of Frelimo dissidents, former Portuguese colonialists, adventurers, and peasants that was initially funded by Rhodesia and then South Africa in order to destabilize the Frelimo regime. But Finnegan also blames the impact on rural Mozambicans of the original policies of Frelimo--the compulsory removal of all traditional tribal institutions. After traveling, often in considerable personal danger, through the region, Finnegan concludes that, whatever its beginnings, this war, in which more than 900,000 Mozambicans have died and 3,000,000 have become refugees, will continue to ravage what little remains of the national economy. And whatever the original causes, Renamo and anarchy are now ""a fundamentally political problem, a painful reflection of internal conflicts."" Vivid reportage, thoughtful analysis, and comprehensive research: a seminal work not only on the war itself but on the conflicts that threaten post-cold-war, post-apartheid Africa.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0520082664
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Univ. of California Press