In Saviors and Survivors, Mahmood Mamdani brings a unique perspective on the crisis in Darfur, providing context from the history of Sudan and examining the world's response to that crisis. He explains how the conflict in Darfur began as a civil war between nomadic and peasant tribes over fertile land; how British colonial officials had artificially tribalized Darfur, dividing its population; and how the war intensified in the 1990s when the Sudanese government tried unsuccessfully to address the problem by creating homelands for tribes without any. The involvement of opposition parties gave rise in 2003 to two rebel movements, leading to a brutal insurgency and a horrific counterinsurgency-but not to genocide, as the West has declared. Mamdani also shows how the Cold War exacerbated the twenty-year civil war in neighboring Chad, creating a confrontation between Libya's Muammar al-Qaddafi and the Reagan administration that spilled over into Darfur and militarized the fighting. By 2003, the war involved national, regional, and global forces, including the powerful Western lobby, who now saw it as part of the War on Terror.
Mahmood Mamdani…is one of the most penetrating analysts of African affairs. In Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics, and the War on Terror, he has written a learned book that reintroduces history into the discussion of the Darfur crisis and questions the logic and even the good faith of those who seek to place it at the pinnacle of Africa's recent troubles. It is a brief, he writes, "against those who substitute moral certainty for knowledge, and who feel virtuous even when acting on the basis of total ignorance."