The Ethiopian Revolution


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War in the Horn of Africa

Gebru Tareke

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Revolution, civil wars, and guerilla warfare wracked Ethiopia during three turbulent decades at the end of the twentieth century. This book is a pioneering study of the military history and political significance of this crucial Horn of Africa region during that period. Drawing on new archival materials and interviews, Gebru Tareke illuminates the conflicts, comparing them to the Russian and Iranian revolutions in terms of regional impact.


Writing in vigorous and accessible prose, Tareke brings to life the leading personalities in the domestic political struggles, strategies of the warring parties, international actors, and key battles. He demonstrates how the brutal dictatorship of Mengistu Haile Mariam lacked imagination in responding to crises and alienated the peasantry by destroying human and material resources. And he describes the delicate balance of persuasion and force with which northern insurgents mobilized the peasantry and triumphed. The book sheds invaluable light not only on modern Ethiopia but also on post-colonial state formation and insurrectionary politics worldwide.

Gebru Tareke is professor of history at Hobart and William Smith Colleges and author of Ethiopia: Power and Protest: Peasant Revolts in the Twentieth Century. He lives in Rochester, NY.

"An outstanding contribution to the twentieth-century history of the Horn of Africa and to the study of guerrilla warfare. . . . Compelling."—Donald Crummey, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

"This masterful politico-military history of the Ethiopian Revolution is a superb account.  Tareke offers a meticulously documented chronicle that is an indispensible guide to the multiple wars of the Mengistu era."—M. Crawford Young, University of Wisconsin-Madison

"This book chronicles, then interprets, the cataclysmic revolutionary events of the 1970s that changed the face of Ethiopia. A groundbreaking work recounted in elegant prose.  With it Dr. Tareke retains his reputation as sprinting in the forefront of Ethiopianist scholars."—Said S. Samatar, Rutgers University

" [A] perceptive and readable history of contemporary Ethiopia and its violent conflicts." —Foreign Affairs

"Through a judicious use of archival and published sources, along with valuable oral interviews from many of the conflict's leading actors, Tareke has put together the most authoritative account of the conflict to date." —T. Natsoulas, Choice

"A provocative and meticulously researched study of the revolutionary wars of modern Northeast Africa...a lucid and ultimately compelling book."--James De Lorenzi, The International Journal of African Historical Studies

"[Gebru Tareke] is an excellent guide to the specifics of modern Ethiopian history."--Cedric Barnes, The Journal of African History

"This is military history of a high standard...The Ehthiopian Revolution is a welcome contribution to the growing body of literature on northeast Africa's modern wars and their continuing ramifications."--Richard Reid, Journal of Military History

"An exquisitely written narrative that demonstrates not only an overall grasp of developments, but a wisdom and humanity that shine out from every page…It is a remarkable achievement"—Christopher Clapham, International Affairs
ISBN: 9780300204148
Publication Date: July 23, 2013
464 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
8 maps

Sales Restrictions: Not for sale in Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda
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