This anthology is the product of an April 1991 conference at Cambridge University sponsored by the Royal African Society, and all but three of 11 contributing authors are British academics. The essays, which are of high quality, offer concise retrospective assessments of Africa's last three decades in realms such as education and agricultural policy, industrialization and environmental and demographic change. Christopher Clapham's chapter on the African state is a particularly good review of how governments were transformed in the eyes of Africa-watchers from a solution to a problem during the postindependence era. In comparing current perceptions of the continent with those fashionable thirty years ago, the book amply demonstrates the fallibility of past expectations and, by inference, casts a measure of doubt over both the predictions and nostrums of the present day.
Get the best of Foreign Affairs' book reviews delivered to you.