cover image A Rope from the Sky: The Making and Unmaking of the World’s Newest State

A Rope from the Sky: The Making and Unmaking of the World’s Newest State

Zach Vertin. Pegasus, $27.95 (352p) ISBN 978-1-64313-051-4

Vertin, a former NGO analyst and adviser to the U.S. special envoy to Sudan and South Sudan, brings an insider’s knowledge to this gripping, well-written account of South Sudan: its independence from Sudan in 2011, its descent into a brutal civil war, and ongoing international efforts to mediate an end to that war. Based on more than 100 interviews, the story follows such major personalities as South Sudan’s first president Salva Kiir, deposed vice president Riek Machar, other Sudan People’s Liberation Movement government notables, and foreign dignitaries. Especially cogent is Vertin’s analysis of the decades-long, unwavering, and largely uncritical support for the SPLM from American evangelicals, the Congressional Black Caucus, advocacy groups, and proponents of “drop-in Hollywood activism” like George Clooney, a visible supporter of the Darfur campaign and South Sudan secession movement. He observes that the SPLM has been weakened by “factionalism, narrow self-interest, and a lack of direction” and recounts the five-year-long and counting struggle among former SPLM allies. The inclusion of stories from ordinary people the author came to know over his time in South Sudan rounds out the book and makes it much more nuanced. This work will appeal to the general reader interested in African politics, conflict resolution, and international diplomacy. Agent: Robert Guinsler, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Jan.)