You would expect a figure as glamorous as Emma McCune to die a heroic, martyred death. But in fact the white, illegal second wife of a Sudanese warlord - one who smuggled herself illegally aboard UN planes and recklessly tripped about the Horn of Africa trying to manipulate the Western press and abusing relief sent for the starving Sudanese - met a sad, banal end in a car accident. In this impressive book, Deborah Scroggins manages to weave the frustrating tale of Emma's life and death and the complicated history of Sudanese politics into a thoughtful, engrossing read. Emma McCune's life was one of unending melodrama. She was born in India, moved to England at two, and was affluently raised in Yorkshire by parents whose lifestyle exceeded their means. They lived in a draughty mansion until her father committed suicide when Emma was 11; the surviving family then moved into a council flat. This did not stop Emma from pursuing the life of privilege her parents felt was owed to them: she went to Oxford and took a year to fly around the world in a single-engine plane with a friend. It was at Oxford that adventure called to Emma: she fell in love with Africa, specifically Sudan, and tried desperately to obtain a position in the bush. Abandoning a master's degree for a position with Street Kids International, she set off to create schools in southern Sudan. There she met and married Riek Machar, a separatist warlord whose actions and orders murdered thousands, if not millions, of innocent Sudanese. Scroggins tries to be as fair as possible when presenting all viewpoints regarding Emma's marriage. In Riek, Emma managed to marry the African man she found so seductive, and in Emma, Riek enjoyed the status of a white wife with ties to various relief efforts operating in Sudan. Emma claimed to be Sudanese at heart and embraced the desperate way of life, enduring numerous diseases, massacres and death threats as she threw herself into her husband's political movement. Her life was notorious: she lived like an African queen in surroundings that are incomprehensible to Westerners, and both she and the people who loved her expected great things from her unborn child. This is an insightful, sensitive and powerfully written biography of a woman whose motivations may have seemed dubious, but whose sincerity and devotion were beyond question.