Africa's newest nation has a long history. Often considered remote and isolated from the rest of Africa, and usually associated with the violence of slavery and civil war, South Sudan has been an arena for a complex mixing of peoples, languages, and beliefs. The nation's diversity is both its strength and a challenge as its people attempt to overcome the legacy of decades of war to build a new ecomic, political, and national future. Most recent studies of South Sudan's history have a foreshortened sense of the past, focusing on current political issues, the recently ended civil war, or the ongoing conflicts within the country and along its border with Sudan. This brief but substantial overview of South Sudan's longue duree, by one of the world's foremost experts on the region, answers the need for a current, accessible book on this important country. Drawing on recent advances in the archaeology of the Nile Valley, new fieldwork as well as classic ethgraphy, and local and foreign archives, Johnson recovers South Sudan's place in African history and challenges the stereotypes imposed on its peoples.
Douglas H. Johnson is a Fellow of the Rift Valley Institute, an historian of Sudan and South Sudan, and an award-winning author and editor. He was a consultant during the Sudan peace talks and a member of the Abyei Boundaries Commission.