Of Time And Power: Leadership Duration In The Modern World

In This Review

Of Time And Power: Leadership Duration In The Modern World

By Henry Bienen and Nicolas van de Walle
Stanford University Press, 1991
215 pp. $25.00
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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.

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