In This Review

Africa Yearbook: Politics, Economy, and Society South of the Sahara in 2005
Africa Yearbook: Politics, Economy, and Society South of the Sahara in 2005
Edited by Andeas Mehler, Henning Melber, and Klaas Van Walra
Brill, 2006, 512 pp

A joint project of African studies institutions in Germany, Holland, and Sweden, this volume aims to summarize the key events and developments in the 48 countries south of the Sahara in 2005 and is the second of what the authors promise will be an annual report. In the age of instant access to information, this might seem like an old-fashioned endeavor, but this collection of country and regional essays by many of Europe's top Africa specialists provides a consistently informative and fairly reliable snapshot of the region and will be useful to experts and the broader public alike. Each chapter is divided into sections on domestic politics, foreign relations, and socioeconomic development. No single theme emerges from the text, but the tone is measured and appears free of the ideological and policy agendas that mar so much of the public-sector literature on the region. Certainly, with a small number of exceptions, the country-level narratives fail to support the repeated assertions by organizations such as the World Bank that the region's reform efforts are rapidly changing socioeconomic conditions on the ground.