The Democratic Republic of Congo has become one of the world’s bloodiest hot spots, and despite recent peace agreements and democratic elections, the country is still plagued by army and militia violence. Thomas Turner‘s insightful book discusses how the the deep–rooted causes of conflict have not been adequately addressed, and shows how current attempts to rebuild the shattered state and society of DRC are doomed to fail. Joel Krupa recommends this illuminating and important book for its passionately written chapters and rigorous analysis.
The Belgian Congo. Zaire. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). No matter the name currently in place, this country (ranked among Africa’s largest in terms of land mass) has garnered world renown for its sprawling jungles, majestic eastern lowland gorillas, and Muhammed Ali’s famous knockout win over heavyweight champion George Foreman in the capital of Kinshasa. Unfortunately, the DRC is even better known for extreme manifestations of the most unsavoury aspects of human nature: acts of appalling cruelty epitomized in a seemingly endless cycle of horrific sexual violence, persistent kleptocratic tendencies among the political leadership, and foreign-backed militia assaults which perpetuate a war that, to date, has killed well over 20 million people since the end of World War Two.
Within this dark framework begins the austerely titled book Congo by Thomas Turner. A deeply knowledgeable DRC Country specialist for non-government organization Amnesty International USA and author of The Congo Wars, Turner is an able guide with ample background on this nuanced region’s multi-faceted character. His writing is a rich examination of the key components of the Congolese state’s decrepitude: nightmarish patterns of sexual and physical violence, dishearteningly misallocated mineral and hydrocarbon deposits, politicized identity crises, and sour relationships with neighbouring countries (Burundi, Angola, Rwanda, and Uganda being prime foci). Few stones are left unturned as he systematically addresses a wide array of complex issues in an intelligent, readable manner. Continue reading