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From the Editor's Preface: Revolt of the Sergeants: An American Insurgency in Sudan,” as the blowzy title may suggest, is a roman a clef based on an amateurish and ill-fated paramilitary scheme carried out in the impoverished Darfur region of Sudan in the spring of (date deleted). In a word, five retired US Army soldiers, animated by quixotic fantasy and in my view by some sort of overt pathology, entered southwestern Sudan in stolen aircraft and routed the ragtag government garrison from the provincial capital of Rembec. Sharking up a militia, they became for a few months the de facto government of the province, repelling government counterattacks and briefly curbing some of the endemic banditry. Inevitably and quickly, their unsupported insurrection collapsed and the province returned to its usual anarchy
Apparently these balding ex-rankers were not soldiers of fortune. There is no fortune in Darfur, which then and now is an arid, isolated, disease-ridden, economically prostrate running sore of misery. The superannuated quintet had not been hired, nor did they expect to find compensation for their risky enterprise. The Americans financed their low-budget rebellion solely through the sale of captured weapons. Consistently describing themselves (satirically, one hopes) as “students,” they claimed they were merely undertaking “an experiment” that looked into methods for stabilizing anarchistic societies. The charismatic leader (the “McDonald” of the book), alleges the sole motive for annexing a remote and forbidding African basket case, at gunpoint and at great trouble, was to test “management ideas” discussed earlier at a book club meeting at Fort Benning, Georgia. One’s eyebrow must rise. At the same time, no other motive is apparent.
According to this account, the sergeants briefly achieved a measure of security in lawless Darfur, and altruistically provided some basic services. But if by their own lights they were not self-interested mercenaries, neither were they missionaries. Their methods as described here were Draconian and sadistic.

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