Matthew Preston returns politics to its rightful place at the heart of the study of internal conflict. Rejecting approaches that emphasise economics or ethnicity, this investigation of the wars in Rhodesia and Lebanon sets out the complex political dynamic that eventually brought each to an end. Above all, it demonstrates the robustness of local agendas in civil wars and the difficulties outsiders face in brokering settlements. With intervention in 'failed states' so high up the international agenda, the message is one that scholars and policy-makers can ill afford to ignore.
Matthew Preston is a Senior Research Officer in the Global Issues Research Group of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London. Prior to that he taught International Relations at Exeter and St Catherine's Colleges, Oxford.