This is an outstanding and highly original addition to the literature on African politics as well as to the broader study of state formation in the postcolonial world. Leonard, a Berkeley political scientist, applies "deviant case" analysis to explore why four particularly effective Kenyan senior civil servants achieved development successes so markedly in contrast to the performance of African public servants in general. In recounting the lives and careers of his four subjects, he draws masterfully on administrative theory, sociopolitical analyses of ethnicity, class and patron-client relationships, as well as a broad knowledge of Kenyan history and long acquaintance with the local role of international donor agencies. Bending to the perceived African realities in the 1990s, the author, who in the 1970s regarded members of the acquisitive Kenyan elite as a threat to national development, now sees their common class interest in bureaucratic competence as a saving grace that may help rescue the state from some of the depredations experienced elsewhere on the continent.
Get the best of Foreign Affairs' book reviews delivered to you.