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  • This product has been replaced by an open access version 9781009281683
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  • Cited by 3
Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
September 2021
Print publication year:
Online ISBN:
African Studies

Book description

The 'Rhodesian crisis' of the 1960s and 1970s, and the early 1980s crisis of independent Zimbabwe, can be understood against the background of Cold War historical transformations brought on by, among other things, African decolonization in the 1960s; the failure of American power in Vietnam and the rise of Third World political power at the UN and elsewhere. In this African history of the diplomacy of decolonization in Zimbabwe, Timothy Lewis Scarnecchia examines the relationship and rivalry between Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe over many years of diplomacy, and how both leaders took advantage of Cold War racialized thinking about what Zimbabwe should be, including Anglo-American preoccupations with keeping whites from leaving after Independence. Based on a wealth of archival source materials, including materials that have recently become available through thirty-year rules in the UK and South Africa, it uncovers how foreign relations bureaucracies the US, UK, and SA created a Cold War 'race state' notion of Zimbabwe that permitted them to rationalize Mugabe's state crimes in return for Cold War loyalty to Western powers.


‘Scarnecchia offers us a gripping tale of the international relations of Zimbabwean decolonization. Peering through the eyes of diplomats, regional leaders and ‘odd informants’ he shows how their visions of Cold War tensions, race and ethnicity distorted what they saw and how they intervened – and helped lay the groundwork for the terrible state violence of post-war Zimbabwe.’

Jocelyn Alexander - University of Oxford

‘Scarnecchia has written a book of extraordinary breadth and detail. His vivid stories of the multi-level diplomacy conducted by a huge cast of international actors - with all their fumbles, missteps and triumphs - explain the profoundly messy process that led to Zimbabwe’s independence. The book is a must-read for anyone interested in international relations, race and state-making in Africa.’

Julia Gallagher - SOAS University of London

‘Based on unusually rich primary sources, this is a lively chronicle of the Rhodesia-to-Zimbabwe saga, over the longer run of some twenty-five years. The two great themes are the rivalries between and within the Zimbabwean liberation movements and the impact of global Cold War competition. Best of all, this is diplomatic history with the flesh-and-blood left in--giants like Mugabe and Nkomo, as well as a host of lesser figures, emerge vividly.’

Kenneth Vickery - North Carolina State University

‘[An] important contribution to African diplomatic history … Recommended.’

J. M. Rich Source: Choice

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