Taking on the Superpowers
This two-volume collection of Connell’s writings, spanning a quarter-century, recounts the experience of Eritrea’s protracted independence war and its postliberation transition to statehood. Taking on the Superpowers opens with Connell's first visit to Eritrea and ends with his journeys behind the lines after the Soviet intervention.
In April 1976, Connell slipped into the colony's besieged capital, Asmara, and witnessed the assassination of a top-ranking Ethiopian official and its bloody aftermath—the summary execution of dozens of innocent civilians. His front page account in The Washington Post broke Ethiopia’s long-standing information blockade. He went on to write about the radical social transformation underway in guerilla-held areas, the near defeat of Ethiopia’s American-backed army, the intervention of the Soviet Union on behalf of Ethiopia, the liberation movement’s strategic retreat, the onset of famine, the final Eritrean victory, the effort to reconstruct and develop the war ravaged new state, the renewal of fighting with Ethiopia, and the economic and political setbacks that followed. Often his was the only voice outsiders heard or read on events in Eritrea.
New introductions to each thematic section set the context—personal and political—for the reportage. The two volumes provide a unique record of the birth of this culturally diverse new nation, the evolution of the political movement that led it, and the challenges faced by the reporter who covered it. In his Introduction, Connell explains why he turned into a critic of the movement he so long supported. A Preface by British historian Basil Davidson endorses this critique.