Smith Professor’s Comprehensive New eBook Brings Facts to the Fore
Amid the world’s ongoing wars and military struggles, and among the numerous reports of suffering, violence and natural disasters, even the most appalling atrocities can be quickly swept to the back pages of history.
Events in Sudan during its bloody civil war have rarely taken front-page prominence in world news reports, even while the years of violence perpetrated by the country’s government against its own people, combined with calamitous famine, have claimed some 2 million lives and displaced untold millions more.
Partly for that reason, Eric Reeves, professor of English language and literature and an expert on the Sudan struggle, recently published Compromising with Evil: An archival history of greater Sudan, 2007-2012, an eBook, available for free, that compiles numerous writings and analyses about the conflict.
“It is above all an effort to ensure that we do not forget or deny the suffering of people throughout greater Sudan,” says Reeves about Compromising with Evil in a Weblog on enough!, a publication of the Enough Project, which works to end genocide and crimes against humanity around the world. “These are people who have collectively endured unimaginable suffering and losses over more than five decades of virtually uninterrupted civil war.”
“Working on this project overturned my cynicism about the power that one individual has to make a difference.”—Madeline Zehnder ’13
For about a decade, Reeves has maintained a Weblog, at sudanreeves.org, detailing the conflict between the Islamic government of President Omar al-Bashir, based in Khartoum, and the vast southern region of Sudan, largely consisting of Catholic and animist sects. The southern region gained political independence on July 9, 2011, becoming the country of South Sudan, though many issues, as well as widespread violence, continue.
Through his expertise and public outspokenness on Sudan, Reeves has become recognized among the most trusted sources for information on the region. He has published numerous articles in international journals and testified before the U.S. Congress. He is also the author of A Long Day’s Dying: Critical Moments in the Darfur Genocide, a 2007 book about the Khartoum regime’s systematic genocide against people in the Darfur region of Sudan.
Reeves produced the eBook in collaboration with Madeline Zehnder ’13, a fellow participant last year in the Kahn Liberal Arts Institute’s “Evil” project. Through her copy-editing, research and help with organizing, formatting and other tasks, Zehnder learned a vast amount about the Sudan conflicts.
“I was shocked to learn about the extent and nature of the violence,” she said, “but I was equally if not more disturbed to learn just how much I didn’t know about a truly incomprehensible amount of human suffering.”
Compromising with Evil presents multiple perspectives on the unrest in Sudan, its spillover to neighboring states and its historical and future implications.
An example of the thorough reportage in Compromising with Evil is its many annexes that present numerous articles, tables and statistics on aspects of the Sudan conflict, on mortality, humanitarian missions, accounts of Reeves’ testimony, media coverage, government communications and other topics.
In addition to its comprehensiveness in framing and documenting events in Sudan, Compromising with Evil is also important as a counter to attempts at historical revision by groups, such as the al-Bashir government, set on obscuring the dimensions of its violent campaigns over time—including massacres of civilians, bombing attacks on unarmed villages, assaults on refugee camps, extortion and widespread rape and sexual violence.
“Many of the reports we worked from never made it into mainstream news,” noted Zehnder, “and there are countless other reports that never move beyond the confidential stage. I encourage everyone to read at least the book’s introduction, which offers a comprehensive overview of the main issues regarding greater Sudan.”
Evidence shows Reeves’ book is succeeding in spreading the archival record far. Compromising with Evil has been cited and praised broadly since its October publication, with numerous reviews and acclaim in publications and media around the world.
“Working on this project overturned my cynicism about the power that one individual has to make a difference,” commented Zehnder. “Eric’s moral commitment to this subject and perseverance in bringing Sudanese accounts into the public eye definitely make him a person with that ability.”