A Rope from the Sky: The Making and Unmaking of the World's Newest State

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Product Details

$29.95  $27.85
Pegasus Books
Publish Date
6.4 X 1.8 X 9.1 inches | 1.55 pounds

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About the Author

ZACH VERTIN is an American writer, foreign policy expert, and diplomat. He currently serves in the Biden Administration as Senior Advisor to the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Vertin also teaches at Princeton University's School of Public and International Affairs. He was previously a Fellow at the Brookings Institution and Brookings Doha Center, where he conceived and led a project on the New Geopolitics of the Red Sea. Vertin's areas of expertise include: U.S. foreign policy, multilateral diplomacy, China, the UN and international institutions, conflict analysis and resolution, mediation, peace processes, political transitions, and global norm development. He has worked on a range of global policy challenges in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and at the United Nations. Vertin also served in the Obama Administration as Director of Policy for the U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan. Prior to that, he spent six years at the International Crisis Group, as a Senior Analyst in the Africa program and as an Advisor on the United Nations and multilateral diplomacy. He was also a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and has consulted for the International Peace Institute, Atlantic Council, U.S. Institute of Peace, and Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue. Vertin's 2019 book, A Rope from the Sky: The Making & Unmaking of the World's Newest State (Pegasus Books) chronicled the extraordinary birth of South Sudan, its subsequent collapse, and a reckoning with the limits of American influence amid a changing global landscape. Vertin has also published policy reports, long-form analyses, and op-eds on a broad range of topics and contributed expert commentary to: The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Economist, CNN, Al Jazeera, Guardian, Le Monde, and the BBC.


A brilliant, authoritative, and colorful insight into the hope and despair that is the world's youngest country. Unique in modern history, this untold story of South Sudan's birth carries lessons not just for Africa but for the rest of the world.--Jon Snow, Journalist and Anchor, Channel 4 News
Panoramic and absorbing. A masterful account of the birth and near-death of a nation. Vertin seams together a staggeringly complicated puzzle, re-creating the savage street battles and high-level diplomacy that has informed South. But much of the book's texture comes from beautiful portraits of the South Sudanese people. An invaluable contribution.
A hugely important contribution to the debate about one of Africa's longest running tragedies.--Chris Patten, Chancellor of Oxford University and Former Governor of Hong Kong
Zach Vertin had a front row seat. With a journalist's verve he takes us through the cast of characters--and forces--which put this country together and then tragically combined to dismantle it. This is a tale of leaders' illusions and of a terrible violence consequently unleashed. And it's a story that has not been properly told till now.--Lord Mark Malloch-Brown KCMG PC, former United Nations Deputy Secretary-General
Vertin offers unprecedented access to the full story...A vitally important, expert account of the little-understood founding of a struggling nation.
A superb read. Zach Vertin skillfully unpacks the events that gave rise to a nation and then hastened its tragic unravelling. It is at once a story that echoes with the experience and hopes of the South Sudanese people, and a chronicle of one of the most consequential attempts at state-building in the modern era. No matter where we seek to advance the cause of peace and justice in the world, we would be wise to learn from this important book.--Rt Hon. Andrew Mitchell MP, former UK Secretary of State for International Development
A highly readable, well-informed and people-centered account. Essential reading for anyone seeking to understand why South Sudan has unraveled.--Dame Rosalind Marsden, DCMG, Former British Ambassador to Sudan and European Union Special Envoy
A remarkably authoritative account of South Sudan's rise and fall; Zach Vertin matches expert political analysis with a journalist's knack for storytelling, and the result is an exciting and immersive book that will be read for years come. He was present at the creation, and could not be better suited to tell this story.--Haile Menkerios, former United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan
Vertin, a former NGO analyst and adviser to the U.S. special envoy to Sudan and South Sudan, brings an insider's knowledge to this gripping, well-written account of South Sudan.
A keen observer of the unfolding South Sudan crisis and participant in the peace effort chronicles the making of the fledgling state and its subsequent disintegration. Vertin displays enormous affection and concern for the fate of this fragile new state. Despite daunting challenges facing the new nation, Vertin offers hope that a viable state can prevail.
Ponders the extent of Western responsibility in the making--and breaking--of South Sudan...[and] points to a deeper question: what makes a nation? Vertin wonders whether, like the American Civil War, South Sudan's misery will 'ultimately prove an awful but formative part of its becoming a viable state.
The still-unfolding tragedy of South Sudan is too little understood and too little known, even among foreign policy experts. Zach Vertin is a rare exception. He has spent his life not just explaining how the promise of this young nation, for which so many sacrificed, was broken so badly, but helping end the bloodshed for a people who have seen far too much of it. An important read.--John Kerry, 68th U.S. Secretary of State, author of EVERY DAY IS EXTRA
A political roller coaster from Africa to the White House and back. Zach Vertin guides us through South Sudan's euphoric independence and its devastating descent into war. A compelling read.--Barton Gellman, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author