'I was utterly gripped by Peter Martell’s superbly written First Raise a Flag.. This is a more than a very fine piece of journalism. It's a masterpiece.'
Peter Oborne, Middle East Eye, Books of the Year 2019.
'An account full of vivid, telling detail.'
The Spectator, Books of the Year 2018.
'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.
'The obscene horror of the fighting from 1955 to 1972 and from 1983 to 2005 ... Martell’s account elegantly reinforces again and again how almost none of these violent foreign interventions were about South Sudan itself.'
Rory Stewart, The New York Review of Books.
'A detailed, wonderfully accessible work... Peter Martell's book on South Sudan is a must read.'
The Washington Post.
'This chilling account of the war in South Sudan gives a voice to those trapped by the brutality.'
'A labour of love for the people of South Sudan and an expression of hope.'
'Gut-wrenching chronicles of human depravity... Martell, an intrepid journalist.. has interviewed many of the victims, heroes, and butchers.'
‘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... This is an important and deeply moving book.’
Geographical, the magazine of the Royal Geographical Society, RGS.
‘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.
‘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.
‘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.
'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.
‘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.
'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.
‘An engrossing read that combines years of journalistic insight with compassionate storytelling.’
Levison Wood, author of Walking the Nile and Arabia.