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The Spectator - Books of the Year 2018, as chosen by Michela Wrong

The Spectator's 'Books of the Year' 


The Observer - 'Readable, rigorous and important'

The Observer, Sunday 4 November, Jason Burke

'This book is a labour of love for the people of South Sudan and an expression of hope for their future. Martell traces the history with clarity and a sure touch in identifying the key events and developments. He had an extraordinary experience of criss-crossing the country off any beaten track, interviewing both leaders and footsoldiers as well as many caught in the upheaval of war, violence, and pillage... 

'What in the end movingly comes across from Martell’s accurate analysis, description and story telling is his love for the South Sudanese people. As for all those who visit or work in the country, these are not faces in a crowd; they are those who actually live there, who, like everywhere else, want a job, to look after their families, educate their sons and daughters, and enjoy themselves. '

Tim Morris, British Ambassador to South Sudan, 2015-2017.

Le Monde diplomatique: Books of the Month, December 2018

Gerard Prunier.

The Atlantic Council - top books to read December 2018, J. Peter Pham.

'Born with so much hope and promise, the world’s newest state quickly plunged into a fratricidal conflict that has left more than half of its population displaced or in dire need of humanitarian assistance. One of those who has covered South Sudan the longest, 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, US Special Envoy to the Great Lakes, choses First Raise a Flag as a top books to read

Reader reviews on Amazon - a selection.

‘A brilliant read for both those new to South Sudan and those familiar with it’ *****

 ‘Martell tells the untold story of this shattering history with compassion, sensitivity and great insight. Writing from personal experience and an extraordinary depth of research and experience, Martell brings rigour, empathy and humanity to a story the world urgently needs to hear.’ *****

‘Can't recommend this enough. Whether you only have a passing interest in African history or have staked a career on it, First Raise a Flag is a brilliant read.’ *****

‘Peter manages the near impossible with this book: an informative and deeply nuanced history of South Sudan that remains, above-all, tremendously entertaining and accessible. Having read much of the available literature on South Sudan, both in general and academic press, I can say that quite confidently that this book is one of the best out there on the topic.’ *****

‘A gripping and moving account that brings together the written and oral elements of South Sudan's troubled history.’ *****

The Interview on FRANCE24 - watch here.

Write Here...

South Sudan: what chance of peace beyond the peace deals?

The Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa, LSE & Centre for African Studies, SOAS

Date: Monday 8 October 2018
Time: 6:30- 8:00 pm
Venue: LSE Campus, New Academic Building, NAB.2.06


LSE, London

Interview on Radio Miraya, South Sudan.

Launch event, Lambeth Palace, London

Launch event at Lambeth Palace.

In all good bookshops... etc etc.


Juba, South Sudan, 2011.