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Rebels in a Rotten State


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About the Author

Kieran Mitton is a lecturer in International Relations in the Department of War Studies, King's College London. He has conducted extensive fieldwork on civil war atrocities in Sierra Leone and has published various articles on the reintegration of ex-combatants and electoral violence.


'Kieran Mitton goes beyond analysis of violence as "breakdown" or "strategy" to provide a compelling, fascinating and very insightful account of the psychological functions of violence in Sierra Leone's vicious civil war.' * David Keen, Professor of Complex Emergencies, London School of Economics *
'No author to date has been able to supply a convincing explanation of the reasons for the RUF's extraordinary brutality, but in this lucid, well organised and well expressed book Kieran Mitton does just that. A significant and original contribution.' * Stephen Ellis, author of External Mission: The ANC in Exile, 1960-1990 *
'Kieran Mitton's readable book seeks to explain atrocity in the Sierra Leone civil war, rather than the causal factors of the war which occupy much of the literature, and presents a new and very plausible thesis to comprehend the incomprehensible. Mitton challenges assumptions of rationality or irrationality within explanations of the worst sorts of violence and offers thought-provoking analysis of why people who are not inherently violent become brutalised and brutal.' * David Harris, Lecturer in African Studies, University of Bradford, author of Sierra Leone: A Political History *
'Rebels in a Rotten State is an important and interesting addition to the remarkably vast, and growing, literature on the war in Sierra Leone. It is distinguished by its careful and learned attention to the causes and nature of the atrocities of the war, rather than to the war itself. The author is consistently informative and fair - even where he disagrees with the interpretation of others, including mine, he does so with reason, diffidence and charm.' * Lansana Gberie, author of A Dirty War in West Africa: The RUF and the Destruction of Sierra Leone *
'This outstanding study, so impressively and carefully researched, makes important contributions in number of areas: to our understanding of the war in Sierra Leone, to the political economy of civil wars more generally, to the challenges of "reconciliation" after horrendous periods of blood-letting and, above all, to the dynamic and complex sources of atrocious violence in conditions of civil war. What makes the book stand out is, not least, the even-handedness, respect and sophistication with which the author critically assesses the many attempts that have been made to explain what many find inexplicable. As such, it is also a deeply humane treatment of the human capacity for extreme violence and evil.' * Mats Berdal, Professor of Security and Development, Department of War Studies, King's College London *

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