Nicolas van de Walle

Capsule Review
2014
Nicolas van de Walle

Academics no longer need lament the absence of a good textbook on African politics for undergraduates. Englebert and Dunn have produced what will no doubt become the standard text for years to come.

Capsule Review
2014
Nicolas van de Walle

Schmidt’s history of military intervention in the region during the last half century breaks no new empirical or theoretical ground, but it does provide a good introduction to the Africa policies of outside powers.

Capsule Review
2014
Nicolas van de Walle

Two very different books, both fascinating, attest to the socioeconomic and political progress Ethiopia has made during the last two decades -- and to the enormous challenges it still faces.

Capsule Review
2014
Nicolas van de Walle

This measured book summarizes the extent of what is known about the recent evolution of the commercial market for land in sub-Saharan Africa -- which is to say, very little.

Capsule Review
Jan/Feb
2014
Nicolas van de Walle

This breezy, upbeat appraisal of the merits of Africa’s private sector and its boundless potential to spearhead growth would have been unthinkable a decade ago.

Capsule Review
Jan/Feb
2014
Nicolas van de Walle

Many assume that ethnic identity plays the main role in holding African political parties together. Yet as Elischer shows in this careful analysis of ten African countries, the picture is more complicated.

Capsule Review
Jan/Feb
2014
Nicolas van de Walle

Two new books consider the lack of economic integration and political cooperation among the 54 states of Africa -- an ironic state of affairs, perhaps, given the large number of intergovernmental organizations that exist on the continent.

Capsule Review
Jan/Feb
2014
Nicolas van de Walle

Anderson, a former Pentecostal minister, argues that Pentecostalism in Africa must be understood more as an indigenous religion than as a Western one.

Capsule Review
Nov/Dec
2013
Nicolas van de Walle

This IMF report on the oil-rich economies of central Africa contains few novel insights, but it does shed some light on the fiscal affairs of some of the most corrupt states in the world.

Capsule Review
Nov/Dec
2013
Nicolas van de Walle

These three new books offer keen insights into the political and civil strife that have wracked Congo for decades and that the country seems far from resolving.

Capsule Review
Nov/Dec
2013
Nicolas van de Walle

Although Adebanwi’s book ranges broadly across recent Nigerian history, its central purpose is to assess postcolonial Nigeria’s most serious campaign to eradicate large-scale corruption.

Capsule Review
Sept/Oct
2013
Nicolas van de Walle

Fergusson vividly recounts the grotesque horrors of the endless war in Somalia; Hansen focuses more narrowly on the al Shabab organization.

Capsule Review
Sept/Oct
2013
Nicolas van de Walle

This exceptional collection of essays examines why roughly a fifth of the elections in sub-Saharan Africa since 1990 have led to violence.

Capsule Review
Sept/Oct
2013
Nicolas van de Walle

The contributors to this volume use the prism of "prebendalism" to look at the permanent struggle in Nigeria over access to public resources.

Capsule Review
Sept/Oct
2013
Nicolas van de Walle

This book examines the relationship between the failure of African states to provide social services to the majority of their populations and the increase in social inequality, ethnic tension, and political violence in the region.

Capsule Review
May/June
2013
Nicolas van de Walle

As a young college graduate, Sandgren taught in a rural Kenyan school for boys from 1963 to 1967 before returning to the United States for graduate school and a career in academia. Sandgren returned to Kenya in 1995 and interviewed 75 of the 90 or so students he had taught three decades earlier. This book is the fascinating result.

Capsule Review
May/June
2013
Nicolas van de Walle

In this political history of Africa since the 1950s, Young reviews the political science literature on such important issues as the legacy of colonialism, the reasons why African states turned autocratic soon after independence, and the best ways to assess their performance since then. Unlike similar books, Young’s considers the areas north and south of the Sahara, focusing on the political and diplomatic links between the two, as well as their common history.

Capsule Review
May/June
2013
Nicolas van de Walle

Policymakers and students of African political economy have long wondered why more African governments have not done a better job of promoting investment by the private sector and what factors differentiate the minority of countries that have enjoyed good relations with business. Both of these books shed light on this question by emphasizing political processes rather than ideology or economic policy.

Capsule Review
May/June
2013
Nicolas van de Walle

Jerven demonstrates with devastating clarity that African governments produce imprecise economic statistics that should not be trusted.

Capsule Review
Mar/Apr
2013
Nicolas van de Walle

Conventional wisdom holds that the African wars of the twenty-first century will be fought over resources, especially water. These two very different books inform readers about the political implications of water -- and of its absence. Jacobs’ book focuses on the international cooperation that has developed around the management of two major river systems in Africa, the Nile River basin and the Orange River basin. In contrast, Munemo’s book on drought relief reminds one that for much of Africa’s recent history, domestic politics have often been more conflict-prone than relations between countries.

Capsule Review
Mar/Apr
2013
Nicolas van de Walle

How does the son of farmers from Benin become a professor of political science at Princeton University? A natural aptitude for mathematics, fostered by Benin’s surprisingly good rural primary schools, obviously helped Wantchékon. Wantchékon captures well the disillusionment of a generation of his compatriots as the promise of independence was overwhelmed by economic crisis and political repression. After being arrested, tortured, and imprisoned in northern Benin, Wantchékon managed to escape to Nigeria, then immigrated as a political refugee to Canada, where he discovered economics and began his ascent in North American academia. Disarmingly candid and generous to friend and foe alike, this book will leave readers with a smile.

Capsule Review
Mar/Apr
2013
Nicolas van de Walle

Annan devotes much of his memoir to the problems of international peacekeeping, which were central to his career, first as assistant secretary-general of the United Nations for peacekeeping operations, from 1993 to 1994, and later as UN secretary-general, from 1997 to 2006. In recounting some of the major conflicts of the recent past, his book provides a sensible, often humane defense of the critical importance of multilateral diplomacy.

Capsule Review
Mar/Apr
2013
Nicolas van de Walle

The remarkably prolific Ellis has written a fascinating history of the internal politics of the African National Congress (ANC) in the 30 years during which it was banned in South Africa and was forced to operate from bases outside the country. Ellis’ research suggests that the South African Communist Party enjoyed a higher degree of influence on the ANC's decision-making than has been acknowledged by the ANC's leadership.

Capsule Review
Jan/Feb
2013
Nicolas van de Walle

These two collections assess the prospects for positive change in sub-Saharan Africa. Crawford and Lynch survey the region’s political progress and generally find it wanting. Lust and Ndegwa’s book is considerably more optimistic.

Capsule Review
Jan/Feb
2013
Nicolas van de Walle

Foster emphasizes the differences between an older generation of black elites steeped in the discipline of the struggle against apartheid and a younger generation that views South Africa in more cosmopolitan terms and is less interested in politics than in pop music and designer clothes.