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Political Science African

Collapse of a Country

A Diplomat's Memoir of South Sudan

by (author) Nicholas Coghlan

foreword by Romeo Dallaire & Shelly Whitman

McGill-Queen's University Press
Initial publish date
Sep 2017
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    Publish Date
    Sep 2017
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    Sep 2017
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The first Canadian diplomat to be posted to war-torn Sudan, Nicholas Coghlan was a natural choice to lead Canada’s representation in the new Republic of South Sudan soon after the country was founded in 2011. In late 2013, Coghlan and his wife Jenny were in the capital, Juba, when it erupted in gunfire and civil war pitted one half of the army against the other, Vice-President Machar against President Kiir, and the Nuer tribe against the Dinka.

This action-focused narrative, grounded by accounts of meetings with key leaders and travels throughout the dangerous, impoverished hinterland of South Sudan, explains what happened in December 2013 and why. In harrowing terms, Collapse of a Country describes the ebb and flow of the war and the humanitarian tragedy that followed, the Coghlans’ scramble to evacuate South-Sudanese Canadians from Juba, and the well-meant but often ill-conceived attempts of the international community to mitigate the misery and bring peace back to a land that has rarely known it. Coghlan’s stark narrative serves as a lesson to politicians, diplomats, aid workers, and practitioners on the breakdown of governance and relationships between ethnic groups, and the often decisive role of international development representatives.

Fast-paced and poignant, Collapse of a Country gives an insider’s glimpse into the chaos, violence, and ethnic conflicts that emerged out of a civil war that has been largely ignored by the West.

About the authors

Nicholas Coghlan and his wife, Jenny, sailed around the world on their first boat, Tarka the Otter between 1985 and 1989. On his return he joined the Canadian Foreign Service and has written books about two of his postings: The Saddest Country: On Assignment in Colombia and Far in the Waste Sudan: On Assignment in Africa. Following their adventure, Coghlan accepted a two-year posting as Deputy High Commissioner in Pakistan. Now, he and his wife are living aboard Bosun Bird somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.

Nicholas Coghlan's profile page

Lieutenant-General Romeo Daillaire served thirty-five years with the Canadian Armed Forces and now sits in the Canadian Senate. His Governor General's Literary Award-winning book, Shake Hands With the Devil, exposed the failures of the international community to stop the Rwandan genocide. His second book They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children, exposed the increasing use of child soldiers, as he saw first hand in Rwanda. Dallaire has received numerous honours and awards, including Officer of the Order of Canada in 2002. His activities continue to include work on genocide prevention, the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and the Child Soldier Initiative, which seeks to develop a conceptual base for the elimination of the use of child soldiers.

Romeo Dallaire's profile page

Shelly Whitman's profile page

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