The people of the Congo have suffered from a particularly brutal colonial rule, American interference after independence, decades of robbery at the hands of the dictator Mobutu and periodic warfare which continues even now in the East of the country.
But, as this insightful political history makes clear, the Congolese people have not taken these multiple oppressions lying down and have fought over many years to establish democratic institutions at home and free themselves from foreign exploitation; indeed these are two aspects of a single project. Professor Nzongola-Ntalaja is one of his country's leading intellectuals and his panoramic understanding of the personalities and events, as well as class, ethnic and other factors, make his book a lucid, radical and utterly unromanticized account of his countrymen's struggle.
His people's defeat and the state's post-colonial crisis are seen as resulting from a post-independence collapse of the anti-colonial alliance between the masses and the national leadership . This book is essential reading for understanding what is happening in the Congo and the Great Lakes region under the rule of the late President Kabila, and now his son.
It will also stand as a milestone in how to write the modern political history of Africa.