South Sudan's Civil War

Violence, Insurgency and Failed Peacemaking

John Young


The first book-length study of the causes, events and consequences of South Sudan's brutal civil war and the devastating effects of the US-led peace process.

A mere two years after achieving independence, South Sudan in 2013 descended into violent civil war, refuting US government claims that the country’s succession was a major foreign policy success and would end endemic conflict. Worse was to follow when the international community declared famine in 2017. In the first book-length study of the South Sudan civil war, John Young draws on his close but critical relationship with the rebel SPLM-IO leadership to reveal the true dynamics of the conflict, and exposes how the South Sudanese state was in crisis long before the outbreak of war.

With insider knowledge of the histories and motivations of the rebellion’s chief protagonists, Young argues considerable responsibility for the present state of South Sudan must be laid at the door of the US-led peace process. Linking the role of the international community with the country’s opposition politics, South Sudan’s Civil War is an essential guide to the causes and consequences of the violence that has engulfed one of Africa’s most troubled nations.

Author Bio

John Young has worked as a private consultant on the Horn of Africa since 1986. In this capacity he served as a political adviser to the Carter Center during South Sudan’s independence referendum, and as a consultant for USAID during the subsequent civil war. His previous books include Peasant Revolution in Ethiopia (2008) and The Fate of Sudan: Origins and Consequences of a Flawed Peace Process (Zed 2012).

Table of Contents

  • Map
  • Preface
  • 1. The Deep Roots and Twisted Path to Civil War
  • 2. The Misadventures of an American Midwife
  • 3. The Descent into Civil War
  • 4. The Establishment of the SPLM-IO
  • 5. Laying the Groundwork for Future Failures
  • 6. The Collapse of the Peace Agreement
  • 7. Coming Out of the Shadows
  • 8. Conclusion: Collapse of an Illusion
  • Postscript


‘The most definitive account yet of America’s debacle in South Sudan and the South Sudanese civil war. Young prophetically warned of South Sudan’s fate in his last book. This time, everyone should listen. No outsider has a closer or more clear-eyed view of South Sudan’s rebel movement.’
Alan Boswell, journalist

‘Combining insights from recent history with rigorous research, Young’s timely study shows how outside attempts to create peace wrought endless havoc for the people of South Sudan. A must read for all those looking to put things right.’
Atta El-Battahani, University of Khartoum

‘John Young describes the appalling events in South Sudan since 2013 with clarity and insight. He has a written a book that anyone wanting to know about South Sudan now will need to read.’
Tim Allen, London School of Economics

‘Young tells a sad story about Sudan and South Sudan, about human nature and American meddling, based on countless conversations with the key actors. It might disillusion many readers, but it rings true.’
Günther Schlee, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology


Publication Date: 15 January 2019
264 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781786993748
Hardback: 9781786993755
eBook ePub: 9781786993779
eBook PDF: 9781786993762
eBook Kindle: 9781786993786

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