Over the past two decades, the Democratic Republic of Congo has been at the centre of the deadliest series of conflicts since the Second World War, and now hosts the largest United Nations peacekeeping mission in the world. In this compelling book, acclaimed journalist Michael Deibert paints a picture of a nation in flux, inching towards peace but at the same time solidifying into another era of authoritarian rule under its enigmatic president, Joseph Kabila.
Featuring a wealth of first-hand interviews and secondary sources, the narrative travels from war-torn villages in the country's east to the chaotic, pulsing capital of Kinshasa in order to bring us the voices of the Congolese - from impoverished gold prospectors and market women to government officials - as it explores the complicated political, ethnic and economic geography of this tattered land. A must-read for anyone interested in contemporary Africa, The Democratic Republic of Congo: Between, Hope and Despair sheds new light on this sprawling and often misunderstood country that has become iconic both for its great potential and dashed hopes.
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Michael Deibert is the author of Democratic Republic of Congo: Between Hope and Despair (Zed Books, 2013), published in cooperation with the Royal African Society, the International African Institute and the World Peace Foundation. His first book, Notes from the Last Testament: The Struggle for Haiti (Seven Stories Press, 2005), was praised by The Miami Herald as "a powerfully documented exposé" and by the San Antonio Express-News as "a compelling mix of reportage, memoir and social criticism," and has since become required reading for diplomats and others seeking to understand that country's complex 1994-2004 era.
Michael's writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, The Miami Herald, Le Monde diplomatique, Folha de São Paulo, World Policy Journal, and The Huffington Post, among other venues. He has been a featured commentator on international affairs on the BBC, Al Jazeera, Channel 4, National Public Radio, WNYC New York Public Radio, and KPFK Pacifica Radio.
In 2012, he was awarded a grant from the International Peace Research Association, and in 2008 he was selected as a finalist for the Kurt Schork Award in International Journalism, sponsored by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, both in recognition of his work in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
A groundbreaking examination of one of Africa's most iconic and tragic countries and a must-read for people interested in contemporary African politics in general and the Great Lakes Region in particular...I don't think I will put Deibert's work back on the bookshelf. I will keep it within reach on my desk.
-Kris Berwouts, African Arguments
Anyone who, like me, is looking to gain a better understanding of this part of central Africa would do well to read journalist Michael Deibert's passionate dissection of the geographies of war and peace in the DRC...It is an essential read for those of us interested in wider postcolonial worlds and the historical fragments of local, regional and global contexts that intersect and link huge parts of the planet together.
- Jonathan Silver, The London School of Economics
A grim and difficult book to read, despite the author's masterful reporting. It is painful because of the visceral attention and emotion his work demands. The tragic and depressing tale of Congo is steeped in the gruesome brutality and avarice of elite leaders-cum-plunderers. It is a story we must know...[The book] will captivate readers already familiar with the blood-soaked, resource-intense country, as well as those being introduced to the struggles facing the Congolese.
-Nomi Prins, Truthdig, author of All the Presidents' Bankers: The Hidden Alliances that Drive American Power
Michael Deibert restores balance to analysis on the Congo with a holistic view grounded in history and the sociopolitical dynamics at play in the nation. A must-read book to understand the complexity of the crisis in the Congo.
- Kambale Musavuli, Congolese human rights activist and spokesperson for the Friends of the Congo, Washington DC
Deibert's book is a scrupulously researched reminder of how this corner of the world became so wretched, and of the multiple actors responsible: Congolese politicians and warlords, predatory neighbours, hypocritical western governments and a hapless UN...A book which should adorn the shelf of policymakers and analysts. For kleptocrats and meddlers, Congo, alas, remains open for business.
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