In This Review

The African Poor
The African Poor
By John Iliffe
Cambridge University Press, 1988, 387 pp

This book should become a classic. In it a noted historian takes a sweeping look at poverty in Africa over the last several hundred years, examining a variety of African attitudes toward the poor and ways of dealing with them-largely without public institutions. In scope, the author goes far beyond his stated intention, depicting economic and social differentiation within various African settings-in effect describing class and caste stratification in Africa before and after the advent of the Europeans. Further, he contrasts poverty in land-rich Africa with that in land-poor Europe. While acknowledging that the difference is now breaking down, he scants the implications of the change; he does, on the other hand, point out the ways in which the mortal effects of crisis-induced poverty have been mitigated by modern health care and famine relief.