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The Mask of Anarchy The Destruction of Liberia and the Religious Dimension of an African Civil War by Stephen Ellis

The Mask of Anarchy The Destruction of Liberia and the Religious Dimension of an African Civil War


The Mask of Anarchy The Destruction of Liberia and the Religious Dimension of an African Civil War by Stephen Ellis

Liberia was in the headlines in 1990 when thousands of teenage fighters, including young men wearing women's clothing and bizarre objects of decoration, laid seige to the capital, Monrovia. In response to the crisis, a West African peacekeeping force, ECONMOG, was sent to stabilize the country and prevent the main warlord, Charles Taylor, from coming to power. Seven years later, however, Taylor was elected President. The country had a fragile peace but the war had spread to its neighbour Sierra Leone. This book traces the history of the civil war that has blighted Liberia in recent years and looks at its roots in the way governments have been established in West Africa during the 20th century.


'The first half of this outstanding study of Liberia's civil war (1989-97) reviews the conflict's political, economic, military and international features, drawing on a comprehensive array of sources. the second half is a fascinating and profound exploration of what Ellis sees as Liberian's deep spiritual anarchy, manifested during the war in extreme brutality, incidents of cannibalism, and the fighters'
bizarre sartorial affections. these things tend to boggle Western minds, as did the overwhelming support among Liberian voters for the unprincipled warlord Charles Taylor in the country

's 1997 presidential election. But Ellis'
persuasive analysis of Liberian religious ideology and culture does more than make sense of these strange phenomena. It offers rare insight into the political, physical, and spiritual power can be linked and legitimized in the popular imagination

-and how each can run amok in the absence of durable institutional checks and balances. A model of lucid writing, thorough research, and penetrating interpretation, this is one of the best books on Africa in recent years.' -Foreign Affairs, Washington, DC

About the Author

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Book Info

Publication date

24th November 1999


Stephen Ellis

More books by Stephen Ellis
Author 'Like for Like'


C Hurst & Co Publishers Ltd


370 pages


Military history
African history
History: specific events & topics
Political structure & processes



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