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Sudan's modern history has been consumed by revolution and civil war. The country attracted international attention in the 1990s as a breeding ground of Islamist terrorism and recently tensions between the prosperous centre and the periphery, between north and south, have exploded in Darfur. In his latest book, Robert Collins, a frequent visitor and veteran scholar of the region, traces Sudan's history across two hundred years to show how many of the tragedies of today have been planted in its past. The story begins with the conquest of Muhammad 'Ali in 1821, and moves through the Anglo-Egyptian condominium to independence in 1956. It then focuses on Sudanese rule in the post-independence years when the fragile democracy established by the British collapsed under sectarian strife. It is these religious and ethnic divides, the author contends, in conjunction with failed leadership, which have prolonged and sustained the conflict in Sudan.