This is the most authoritative study of the Sierra Leone civil war to emanate from Africa, or indeed any publications' programme on Africa. It explores the genesis of the crisis, the contradictory roles of different internal and external actors, civil society and the media; the regional intervention force and the demise of the second republic. It analyses the numerous peace initiatives designed to end a war, which continued nonetheless to defy and outlast them; and asks why the war became so prolonged. The study articulates how internal actors trod the multiple and conflicting pathways to power. It considers how non-conventional actors were able to inaugurate and sustain an insurgency that called forth the largest concentration of UN peacekeepers the world has ever seen.