African economies and the politics of permanent crisis, 1979-1999

| March 9, 2011

Title: African economies and the politics of permanent crisis, 1979-1999
Author: Nicolas van de Walle
Publisher: New York : Cambridge University Press, 2001
Check it out! HC800 V357 2001

From the publisher: This book explains why African countries have remained mired in a disastrous economic crisis since the late 1970s. It shows that dynamics internal to African state structures largely explain this failure to overcome economic difficulties rather than external pressures on these same structures as is often argued. Far from being prevented from undertaking reforms by societal interest and pressure groups, clientelism within the state elite, ideological factors and low state capacity have resulted in some limited reform, but much prevarication and manipulation of the reform process, by governments which do not really believe that reform will be effective, which often oppose reforms because they would undercut the patronage and rent-seeking practices which undergird political authority, and which lack the administrative and technical capacity to implement much reform. Over time, state decay has increased.

About the author: Nicolas van de Walle (PhD. Princeton University, 1990) has been a professor in the department (Department of Government, Cornell University) since 2004. His primary field is comparative politics. His teaching and research focuses on the political economy of development, with a special focus on Africa; on democratization, and on the politics of economic reform. His most recent book is African Economies and the Politics of Permanent Crisis, 1979-1999 (Cambridge University Press, 2001).

On the web: Book review from Foreign Affairs (Published by the Council on Foreign Relations)