By William G. Thom - Class of 1982
During the past forty years, Africa south of the Sahara has been the most conflict-prone region of the world. Yet in spite of its growing geopolitical importance, both as a resource base and as an emerging factor in the U.S.-led 'war on terror,' it remains one of the least understood.
African Wars provides a concise summary of four decades of warfare in sub-Saharan Africa with expert commentary by an experienced and highly respected senior U.S. intelligence officer. As a defense analyst, and eventually senior Africa specialist in the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, William Thom acquired unique and in-depth knowledge of conflict in this vast and troubled region. Ranging from postcolonial insurgencies in Rhodesia and Namibia to ongoing strife in the Horn of Africa, from the horrors of Rwanda and the Congo to devastating civil wars in Angola, Mozambique, and Liberia, the book tracks seventeen different conflicts, many of which have a continuing influence on the continent's political-military affairs today. Thom complements his penetrating and often gripping accounts of specific wars with valuable wide-ranging impressions, in particular the often surprising adaptability of combatant groups to their material and political environments, and the frustrating marginalization of Africa within security circles during this period. African Wars is also a lively memoir, as Thom brings a wealth of detail, personal insight, and wit to the story of his training and education as an intelligence officer, the difficulties and oddities of travelling in Africa, and his skirmishes with the intelligence bureaucracy. Anyone interested in African security issues, contemporary warfare, or military intelligence will find this book a vital and timely discovery.