‘This is a remarkable piece of work. It manages to pull off the rare feat of being both meticulously-researched and extremely accessible. Putting any journalistic ego to one side, Martell gives us the benefits of over a decade of reportage. He wades through yellowing colonial archives, tracks down Mossad operatives and quizzes white mercenaries, but it’s the experiences and reflections of the South Sudanese men and women who shaped and lived this turbulent history that dominate the narrative.’
Michela Wrong, author of It’s Our Turn to Eat.
‘An eloquently written and admirably lucid account of the dramatic birth, and ongoing death, of South Sudan. It is a remarkable story. As the world’s newest nation plunged into civil war and became a failed state, Peter Martell has been a stubborn, compassionate eyewitness, and he deserves high praise for this unflinching elegy for an ill-starred place that he has — despite everything — come to love.’
Jon Lee Anderson, New Yorker reporter, author of Guerrillas.
'A detailed, wonderfully accessible work... Peter Martell's book on South Sudan is a must read.'
Laura Seay, The Washington Post.
'Historical narrative and careful analysis are mixed with interviews with individuals chosen to illustrate the broader story...Martell is a sympathetic and sensitive listener and his writing powerful and moving.'
Jason Burke, Africa correspondent, The Guardian, author of Al-Qaeda.
'A labour of love for the people of South Sudan and an expression of hope. He traces the history with clarity and a sure touch...He had an extraordinary experience of criss-crossing the country off any beaten track.'
Tim Morris, British ambassador to South Sudan 2015-2017, New Statesman.
‘Peter Martell’s combination of eye-witness reporting and historical research makes for a compelling account ... A highly readable book about the world’s newest country, and a study of what it means to be a nation.’
Lindsey Hilsum, Channel 4 News, author of In Extremis.
'Gut-wrenching chronicles of human depravity... Martell, an intrepid journalist.. has interviewed many of the victims, heroes, and butchers.'
‘A cracking read.’
Will Ross, BBC Africa Editor.
'An account full of vivid, telling detail.'
The Spectator, Books of the Year 2018.
'Congrats to Peter Martell on his new book about South Sudan.'
Nick Kristof, Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist.
‘Highly recommended. Great read.’
Rashid Abdi, Former Horn of Africa director, International Crisis Group.
‘Everyone should read this book.’
Mark Schenkel, Africa correspondent, Dutch daily newspaper, de Volkskrant.
'This chilling account of the war in South Sudan gives a voice to those trapped by the brutality.'
‘An engrossing read that combines years of journalistic insight with compassionate storytelling.’
Levison Wood, author of Walking the Nile and Arabia.
'Martell combines eyewitness reporting with extensive research to produce a solid account of this tragedy.'
J. Peter Pham, Director of the Atlantic Council's Africa Center.
'A correspondent based in Juba, capital of the new, troubled country of South Sudan, explains its tragic predicament. A history of slave raids, imperialism and brutal rule by Khartoum leads to independence and civil war. The saga is enlivened by interviews with retired spooks and elderly veterans.'
The Economist, Books of the Year 2018.
‘Peter Martell arrived earlier and stayed longer than any of us who covered South Sudan’s independence and the bloody catastrophe that followed. Here he reveals the foundation of his insightful, precise reports: a deep, first-hand knowledge of the centuries of history of how the world’s newest nation came to be, stuffed with insightful research, delightful details... Lyrical, revelatory, quietly outraged and deeply moving.’
Alex Perry, author of The Rift: A New Africa Breaks Free.
‘It’s his first person account that drives this compelling, harrowing story. His despair at the way that events have unfolded is palpable, as is his compassion for the civilians caught up in the tragedy and chaos of South Sudan’s birth and subsequent descent into conflict. This is an important and deeply moving book.’ Geographical, the magazine of the Royal Geographical Society, RGS.
'On finishing the final pages, I found myself sitting in an angry silence which immediately recalled a memory of reading Adam Hochschild’s King Leopold’s Ghost many years ago. It’s a history from the ground that will leave you angry and a little haunted. And given the ocean of otherwise technocratic reports on South Sudan with statistics that fail to capture what a dream imploding feels like, that’s just about the highest praise I can give.'
Richard Stupart, Africa at LSE.
‘It is what he has seen and vividly broadcast to the world that is the core of the book, describing horrific events of the civil war’... First Raise a Flag tells us not only about South Sudan ‘but separation as a route to resolving the issues of deeply troubled states.’
Professor Peter Woodward, Sudan Studies for South Sudan and Sudan.
'It is not a text book. It is not a research thesis. It is a work that gives voice to the experiences of the world's youngest nation.'
Daniel Wesangula, The Standard, Kenya.
'A fascinating book on South Sudan. Highly recommend it.'
Dr Sinead Walsh, EU Ambassador to South Sudan, co-author of Getting to Zero - A doctor and a diplomat on the Ebola frontline.
'On trouvera ici les souvenirs d’un journaliste de terrain; il ne faut pas y chercher une tentative d’explication théorique. En revanche, le sens de la nuance dans la description des situations fournit une image claire et sans préjugés d’une évolution politique paradoxale, dont les conséquences ultimes demeurent encore inconnues.'
Gérard Prunier, Le Monde diplomatique, Books of the Month, December 2018.
'An excellent read, full of history, human interest and pace. Highly recommend.'
Charles Steel, chair of Save the Children.