Emma's War: Love, Betrayal and Death in the Sudan

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9780002570275: Emma's War: Love, Betrayal and Death in the Sudan

Love, corruption, violence and the dangerous politics of aid in the Sudan, by an exciting new writer.

Glamorous aid worker Emma McCune conformed to none of the stereotypes: although driven and committed to her work she was at least partially attracted to Africa because it enabled her to live in a style she could not achieve in Britain, and she was famous in East Africa for wearing mini-skirts and for her affairs with African men.

Initially much admired, if also suspect for her social flair, she appalled the aid community with her marriage to a local warlord, who was deeply enmeshed in both rebellion and murder. She had fallen in love and, a rebel to the end, she insisted on following her feelings, even if it left her rejected by her fellow worker and in an ambiguous position – was she on the side of the refugees or the warmongers? Even after her death in a road accident the fascination of her life continues: it is a mixture of Romeo and Juliet and Heart of Darkness with a large helping of Graham Green.

This is also an immensely powerful evocation of the complexities and horrors of the Sudan, where Gordon of Khartoum lost his life and possibly his sanity campaigning against the slave trade, and where today life is so harsh that desperate families sell their children into slavery, hoping for a better life for the child, and hopeless children volunteer to be sold, grabbing at any opportunity for change, however slight, where boys grow up aspiring to be child soldiers and men dedicate their babies to war.

Impotent among the dead and the dying, the well-educated, well-paid Western aid workers who try to impose order on this maelstrom are inevitably doomed to failure and, sometimes, are even complicit in creating human misery.

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Review:

A New York Times Notable Book of 2002.

‘Deborah Scroggins’s book is one of the best that I have ever read on the difficult relationship between the developed world and the Third World–between the world of plenty and the world of war, famine and refugees…Scroggins has done an enormous amount of work on the history of the past two centuries of Sudan and its interplay with the West. But all this learning is worn lightly and is told through Emma’s tantalising odyssey…Emma’s War is an eye-opener. Scroggins is as brave as her subject…fortunately, she is much wiser than poor Emma, and she has written a wonderful, challenging book’
William Shawcross, Sunday Times

‘Scroggins is to be congratulated for making the story of Emma McCune’s ill-fated foray into Africa such a good read’
Justin Marozzi, Telegraph

‘Scroggins has written a wonderful book…Emma’s war is a gripping history of the Sudan, which doesn’t shirk the country’s complexities and which integrates into its cruel history the saga of Western efforts to help and interfere’
Geraldine Bedell, Observer

From the Publisher:

Named Notable Book of the 2002 by the New York Times

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