Cover image for Surrender or starve : the wars behind the famine
Surrender or starve : the wars behind the famine
Kaplan, Robert D., 1952-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boulder : Westview Press, 1988.
Physical Description:
x, 188 pages : map ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DT387.95 .K37 1988 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order


Author Notes

Journalist Robert D. Kaplan is a contributing editor The Atlantic Monthly.

He has traveled extensively, and his journeys through Yugoslavia and America have produced, respectively, Balkan Ghosts (which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize) and An Empire Wilderness.

Kapan is also the author of Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power (Random House, 2010) and The Revenge of Geography (Random House, 2012)

Kaplan has lectured at the FBI, the National Security Agency, the Pentagon's Joint Staff, major universities, the CIA, and business forums.

(Bowker Author Biography) Robert Kaplan is a correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly. His best-seller Balkan Ghosts, a New York Times Editor's Choice, was chosen by as one of the ten best travel books of all time. He lives in Massachusetts.

(Publisher Provided)

Reviews 1

Choice Review

A compelling argument that the great famine, which gripped the Horn of Africa in 1984-85, stemmed from civil war and politics, not from weather and other natural causes. Kaplan focuses mainly on Ethiopia, where the author spent time as a journalist on both sides of the battle lines. He excoriates the Mengistu regime for the forced collectivization and resettlement programs it imposed to maximize political control, with great sacrifice of agricultural production and human lives. The Ethiopian government is also indicted for the "surrender or starve" choice offered to rebellious minorities. Kaplan is highly critical of US government policy, which, though well meaning, has misunderstood the obsession of Mengistu in consolidating his power. Furthermore, US policy has missed opportunities to exert leverage, a mistake not made by the USSR, which has made the regime into a Leninist dependency. Kaplan is as critical of US press coverage as he is of US policy. The media were so preoccupied with the sensational aspects of starvation that they did not get around to inquiring into the underlying causes until the spotlight of public opinion had shifted from Ethiopia. The treatment of the Sudanese famine is much less detailed and less convincing about causes. A captivating book, even though individual chapters read more as separate magazine articles than as an integrated whole. Important reading for those interested in the Horn of Africa and the 1984-85 famine. Undergraduate university libraries. -H. W. Moyer, Grinnell College