Historical Dictionary of the Sudan

By (author) Robert S. Kramer, Richard A. Lobban Jr., Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban

Hardback - £158.00

Publication date:

22 March 2013

Length of book:

620 pages


Scarecrow Press

ISBN-13: 9780810861800

The Republic of the Sudan was long the largest country in Africa and, according to the general consensus, also one of the least successful in many ways. This was not entirely its fault since it lay along the fault line between Muslim and Christian Africa and between the Nile Valley civilizations and African Sudanic cultures. This partly explains the long and bloody warfare waged by the Southerners to achieve independence, which they did in July 2011. So this hefty book actually covers not one but two states.

This fourth edition of the Historical Dictionary of the Sudan does so, first, through a lengthy and detailed chronology tracing its relatively few successes and numerous failures. The introductory essay does an admirable job of putting it all in perspective. But the most informative part is the dictionary, with now over 700 entries for this fourth edition. They deal with important personalities, politics, the economy, society, culture, religion and inevitably the civil war. There are also appendixes and an extensive bibliography.
Since the third edition was published, the Republic of Sudan has been partitioned, leading to the independence of the Republic of South Sudan in July 2011. As a result of this major development, this dictionary has been greatly expanded to include much new information on political parties, militias, towns and cities, and the civil war, among many other topics. In addition, new maps, charts, illustrations, and tables have been added. Authors Kramer, Lobban, and Fluehr-Lobban are experts active in the Sudan Studies Association. They deserve commendation for trying "to project a Sudanese point of view to avoid or minimize Eurocentrism; where Sudanese judgments differ we have tried to present multiple and sometimes contradictory views."

Similar to the other titles in Scarecrow's historical dictionary series, this work primarily includes A-Z entries covering people, politics, social issues, institutions, and events. In addition, it features maps (of uneven quality), an extensive chronological time line, and an unannotated bibliography. A very brief bibliographic essay provides evaluations of some useful sources. Especially helpful is the much lengthier introduction on the history of the country from the advent of Islam through postindependence. For coverage of much earlier times, see Lobban's Historical Dictionary of Ancient and Medieval Nubia. A recurring problem with Scarecrow's historical dictionaries is that the entries do not cite any sources, making it very difficult for students and researchers to do follow-up research. Nevertheless, this is an outstanding ready-reference source providing hard-to-find information on one of the most important countries on the African continent.
Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-level undergraduates and above; general readers.