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Me Against My Brother Hardcover – 6 Apr 2000
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Somalia dominates more than half of this shocking account, and well it might, for without the fall-out from the American intervention, the genocide in another, Rwanda, may have been averted. It's a shuddering thought, and utterly condemnatory of American foreign policy in Africa, a point which Scott Peterson, newspaper correspondent and photographer, is at pains to narrate. The manner in which "God's Work" was executed was appalling. Defeat was snatched from the jaws of victory with a display of arrogance and incompetence beyond moral or political mandate, turning a mercy mission into an aggressive situation, peace-keeping into peace-enforcement. As a result of Bloody Monday in Mogadishu in 1993 (part of Operation Restore Hope), in which he nearly lost his life (four other Western journalists subsequently did, along with at least 54 Somalis), Peterson believes that US Admiral Jonathan Howe could, should, have been charged with war crimes. That he wasn't is at the heart of why the Americans will not sign up for an international criminal court.
In the civil war of Sudan, Peterson found the most depressing malaise. More people had died (1.5m) in the Sudanese war than in Bosnia and Somalia combined, as the barren North fought the lush South, Arab arrayed against Christian, with famine snapping at their heels. Life is cheap, but food is dear, especially when aid unfailingly reaches only the mouths of the oppressors. The 1994 Rwandan massacre saw about half, maybe two thirds, of the number of casualties, but the rate of killing was five times greater than even the Nazis managed fifty years before. Extremist Hutus armed themselves with machetes and hacked their way, with Old Testament vengeance, through their Tutsi neighbours and moderate Hutus, while members of the UN Security Council fell over themselves to avoid terming it "genocide". Peterson's anger is palpable, and his eloquent, well-paced analysis, based on innumerable interviews as well as his own experiences, refuses to draw a veil over the horror. Meticulously researched, haunting, and urgent; if journalism is the first draft of history, then Scott Peterson's testimony makes a harrowing yet invaluable contribution. --David Vincent
'Journalism, at its best, is the first draft of history. Peterson was there to draft it in Somalia and Rwanda. His book is likely to emerge as the definitive study of just how indifferent our leaders can be to the suffering of Africans' - The Times - 'As succinct and gripping an account as l've read of the debacle.' - Evening Standard - 'An exemplar of eyewitness reporting and a call to action' - Fergal Keane, Financial Times - 'Certainly the most important book to have come out of the Dark Continent for decades' - The Times - 'Remarkable and important, [a] fine, courageous introduction to Africa's emerging multiple disasters' - The Scotsman -See all Product description
Top customer reviews
As a former foreign correspondent (London based, for Australian television) I also spent time in Somalia, Rwanda and Sudan. I picked up this book out of curiosity but without much in the way of expectations.
Having read it, I am stunned and in awe.
There are many more famous and exalted names in foreign journalism than Scott Peterson's - at least until now. The sheer passion of his reporting, the level of his commitment, his fearlessness both when faced by African violence and the equally grotesque rationalisations of those who clumsily intervene (and those who fail to intervene) deserve him a place in the highest rankings.
He stuck with Somalia when most of the rest of the world lost interest (I plead guilty). He took trouble to understand the Somali perspective when most others saw simply an American story. He writes illuminatingly about Sudan - perhaps the world's most overlooked warzone, rich in terrible, pointless loss. His writings of Rwanda add renewed freshness to the gut-churning horrors of the genocide - after Gourevitch's "We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Familes" apparently left little more to be said.
Peterson returns the degraded craft of journalism to its purest form: he bears witness. He risks his life to do so. He loses friends. He confesses his fear. He disdains received wisdom. He redeems the lazy journalism of the pampered hacks with one eye on the room service menu and the other on how well their "heroism" will play back home.
Anyone with an interest in Africa, reporting, the nature of the human condition, the politics of humanitarian intervention, or just a damn good, disturbing read about the ways of the world would do well to read this book.
Nevertheless it is an excellent piece of work. Peterson combines personal anecdotes and wider analysis to give a quite frankly chilling insight into the brutal reality of the US led UN intervention in Somalia; a definite antidote to the jingoistic approach of 'Black Hawk Down' and the spin of US politicians
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