In This Review

Of Time And Power: Leadership Duration In The Modern World
Of Time And Power: Leadership Duration In The Modern World
By Henry Bienen and Nicolas van de Walle
Stanford University Press, 1991, 215 pp

All practicing politicians and aspiring leaders should be interested in this original book. It is a carefully crafted study of why some leaders stay in power for long periods while others fall by the wayside, based on a global survey of 2,256 heads of state in 167 countries. The primary conclusion of the authors is not particularly exciting: the longer a leader is in power, the less the risk of losing it (up to a point). The reason, however, is important, as shown in nations that have had a rapid succession of leadership changes followed by a period of longevity, e.g., Syria and Hafez al-Assad. The ability of leaders, once having achieved office, to build political organizations, reward followers and punish opponents is a key to continuity. The authors are Africanists and they make some interesting observations about variations among regions of the world.