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When Things Fell Apart


  • 12 tables
  • Page extent: 218 pages
  • Size: 216 x 138 mm
  • Weight: 2.6 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9780521715256)

In the later decades of the twentieth century, Africa plunged into political chaos. States failed, governments became predators, and citizens took up arms. In When Things Fell Apart, Robert H. Bates advances an exploration of state failure in Africa. In so doing, he not only plumbs the depths of the continent's late-century tragedy, but also the logic of political order and the foundations of the state. This book covers a wide range of territory by drawing on materials from Rwanda, Sudan, Liberia, and Congo. A must-read for scholars and policy makers concerned with political conflict and state failure.

• An important statement concerning the conflict and fiscal crisis that afflict political and economic development in Africa by one of the most influential comparativists • A lively read attracting academics and policy makers alike • Details the importance of politics in understanding the trajectory of Africa in general and the dynamics of order and disorder


Part I. Introduction: 1. Introduction; 2. From fable to fact; Part II. Sewing the Seeds: 3. Political legacies; 4. Policy choices; 5. Subnational tensions; Part III. Things Fell Apart: 6. Things fell apart; 7. Conclusion; Part IV. Appendix.


'Bates' book rightly reminds us that political order is problematic … The book also contains a strong argument for the central role of the state for economic development.' Africa Spectrum

'An old hand in US political science on Africa with a university career which stretches over more than 40 years, Bates combines some of the most attractive, but also some of the more problematic traditions of his trade.' Comparativ

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