- Prime Student members get £10 off with a spend of £40 or more on Books. Enter code SAVE10 at checkout. Enter code SAVE10 at checkout. Here's how (terms and conditions apply)
The World's Most Dangerous Place: Inside the Outlaw State of Somalia Paperback – 16 Jan 2014
- Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
- Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Special offers and product promotions
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The title is also problematic because the competition is fierce for the world's most dangerous place. Moreover, things have recently been improving in Somalia, and even during the last two decades of civil war and state collapse there were always parts of the country that were not nightmarishly anarchic and violent.
That said, there is little question that Somalia has been a byword for all the bad things that happen when a state disintegrates - especially when that state was an awkward fusion of former colonies that arguably should never have been made into one country. Since the overthrow of the dictator Siad Barre in 1991, Somalia has been, as one of Fergusson's interviewees says, the stable for the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, caught in an endless cycle of war, famine and pestilence.
Mogadishu, its shattered capital city, has been the location for two decades of "'Lord of the Flies' with automatic weapons" thanks to an endless supply of heavily armed young men, rendered especially brutal and paranoid by the drug qat, the traditions of clan warfare, and the spread from Arabia of Wahabi Islamic fundamentalism.
If that were not bad enough, the flight of some two million Somalis abroad has exported Somalia's pathologies to places like London and, more surprisingly, Minneapolis in the USA. As one British ambassador told Fergusson, referring to the threat posed by al-Shabaab, the Somali version of the Taliban and the growing importance of Somali-born terrorists, Somalia "is no longer a traditional, geographical country, but a diffuse, global entity...that is not physically containable."
Accordingly, only half of Ferguson's book takes him to Somalia. The rest is about his experiences of the Somali diaspora. If Somalia at home is not quite as uniformly chaotic and terrifying as people imagine, Somalia abroad presents some disturbing challenges to Western societies as well bringing the benefits represented by people like the Anglo-Somali athlete Mo Farah, the courageous freedom activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and the author Nuruddin Farah.
It is perhaps not polite to mention it but it is no secret that Somali children who have grown up in their war-torn homeland present unique difficulties in British schools, with a reputation for astonishing ferocity in playground fights and a disproportionate tendency to join criminal gangs and to get in trouble with the law. But that is a relatively minor problem compared to what seems to be an increasing number of diaspora Somali men recruited into Islamist terrorism.
The best-known examples of this are the would-be tube bombers Ramzi Mohamed and Yassin Omar from the July 2005 plot. But a surprising number of well-educated and apparently assimilated Somali-Americans have ended up as bombers and fighters for al Qaeda-linked organizations in places like Yemen and Afghanistan.
Fergusson's visits to various Somali regions - including the pirate statelet of Puntland, and the stable, independent but unrecognized Somaliland Republic (formerly British Somaliland) -- are fascinating and full of surprises. He wears his research lightly but comes up with plenty of strange and sometimes sad facts about the region.
[For instance, it was Somalis who invented the "technical" the pick-up truck mounted with a machine gun that has become ubiquitous in war zones around the world. Somalia is also the home of the most extreme and horrific form of female genital mutilation - a monstrous practice called "infibulation" that testifies to a misogyny remarkable even by the standards of other nomadic desert cultures with an endemic fear of female sexuality.]
Much to Fergusson's credit he gives a face and a voice to the impressive and often drily amusing Ugandan army officers who lead the Amisom African Union "peacekeeping" force that has driven al Shabaab out of much of Mogadishu. That he does so shows why he is such a good guide to this complicated conflict: Many foreign reporters are too fascinated by terrorists and militants in places like the Horn of Africa to notice the personalities of the foreign forces fighting them, or the people who are their victims. Fergusson is too sensible, too curious and too humane to fall into such a trap. It is one of many things that make "The Worlds Most Dangerous Place" such a surprisingly enjoyable read.
If there is a flaw to the book, it is some naivete about NGOs abroad and the claims of multiculturalism at home. But for the most part Fergusson is refreshingly thoughtful and commonsensical about the things he encounters.
Still, it is a fast read, the maps are excellent as are the photographs. Certainly quite good - not definitive though.
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Most recent customer reviews