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4.0 out of 5 stars Indispensable, 20 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Civil War Is Not a Stupid Thing: Accounting for Violence in Developing Countries (Paperback)
Christopher Cramer has written a superb book on the nature and causes of violence in developing countries, that goes far beyond the promise of the jokey and perhaps ill-chosen title. It is based firmly on personal research and experience, and along the way it shreds a whole series of neat, glib explanations for conflict, proposing instead a much more sophisticated, contingent, model. The Liberal theory of peace, in particular, is left lying bloodied in the gutter.
The latter is not an insignificant point, because, as the author, notes, huge amounts of time and effort have been spent trying to prevent, end, and recover from conflicts, on the basis of liberal (and neoliberal) ideology, whereas there is no proof that this ideology actually works, or even that it explains anything of interest.
Quibbles are relatively minor: in a book of such range there are obviously areas of weakness (I wasn't wholly persuaded by the discussion of ethnicity), and the author's expertise in Angola and Mozambique means those countries get perhaps a disproportionate share of attention.I also slightly question whether any model is actually capable of "accounting for violence" given the pervasive confusion over definitions and over even basic statistics.
But overall an indispensable book, not just for the specialist but anyone interested in why conflicts happen and why they end.
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Civil War Is Not a Stupid Thing: Accounting for Violence in Developing Countries
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