Author(s): James Fergusson
Award-winning journalist James Fergusson is among the few to have witnessed at first hand the devastating reality of life in the failed and desperate state of Somalia. This corner of the world has long been seen as the rotting and charred heart of Africa: a melting pot of crime, corruption, poverty, famine and civil war. And in recent years, whilst Somalia's lucrative piracy industry has grabbed the headlines, a darker, much deeper threat has come of age: the Al Qaida-linked militants Al Shabaab, and the dawn of a new phase in the global war on terror. Yet, paradoxically, Somalia's star is brightening, as forms of business, law enforcement and local politics begin to establish themselves, and members of the vast Somali diaspora return to their homeland. Fergusson takes us to the heart of the struggle, meeting everyone from politicians, pirates, extremists and mercenaries to aid workers, civilians and refugees. He gives a unique account of a country ravaged by war, considers what the future might hold for a generation who have grown up knowing little else and exposes the reality of life in this hard, often forgotten land.
The first authoritative account of the Somali region, its history, and the Islamic extremists operating there today.
"One of the best narratives of discovery I have read for years. The sense of place is acute, the characters and landscapes vivid ... rivals Ryszard Kapuscinski and Robert Byron at their best." -- Robert Fox Evening Standard "Fergusson has a talent for shedding light in dark places. While most reporters have opted to stay away, Fergusson has risked his life to cover the ground and, an even greater achievement, succeeded in making the Somali mess understandable and relevant. It is this insight, alongside his harrowing account of life in the grief zone that gives Fergusson's book its power." -- Anthony Sattin Observer "Essential reading for those who seek to counter the menace. With ingenuity and no little courage he has travelled far and wide, within Somalia and among the Somali diaspora in Britain and America, delving into the soul of a ravaged community." The Economist "What [Fergusson] has done, with heroic tenacity and no little courage, is to spend much of the last two years wandering from one end of the country to the other, interviewing politicians and presidents, fighters and pirates, foreign advisers and security guards, and above all scores of ordinary Somalis, whose lives have been destroyed by 20 years of carnage and whose tales he eloquently recounts. An elegant writer, with a scholarly understanding of history, he brings to terrible light the catastrophe that is Somalia." -- Caroline Moorehead The Spectator "If you meet James Fergusson on your travels, look out, you are most definitely in the wrong place. The writer has earned something of a reputation as a specialist on the dark side of the troubled world in which we live. From the Balkans to Afghanistan and the modern-day hell that is sub-Saharan Africa, the adventurous journalist and best-selling author has put his life on the line to become a global authority on Al Qaeda, the Taliban, boy soldiers in Somalia - and the worst aspects of human behaviour in the most inhospitable and dangerous regions." -- Jim McBeth Daily Mail "This book is one of the most detailed and illuminating books I have ever read. Comprehensive, detailed, and filled with information, this is an excellent read. Read this book." Army Rumour Service (ARRSE) "Coruscating reportage... Fergusson is a great journalist, and such truly brilliant investigative work offers the seeds, the suggestions of remedies for the contagion beneath the reporter's microscope." -- Roger Hutchinson Scotsman "Riveting ... Fergusson rounds out this invaluable work by noting the glimmers of hope appearing" Publishers Weekly "[A] fine book... With his usual insouciant courage - for this country is not for the faint-hearted - Fergusson takes us on an invigorating journey through Somali life and history... wide-ranging and fascinating." -- Frank Ledwidge RUSI journal "Exceptional... Fergusson vividly recounts the grotesque horrors of the endless war in Somalia while leavening his account with the gallows humor of some of the war's participants." -- Nicolas van de Walle Foreign Affairs magazine
James Fergusson is a freelance journalist and foreign correspondent who has written for many publications including the Independent, The Times, the Daily Mail and The Economist. A regular television and radio commentator on Afghanistan and the Taliban, he is the author of four previous books including A Million Bullets, which was the British Army's Military Book of the Year. He is married with four children and lives in Edinburgh.