"African States since Independence" by Darin Christensen

African States since Independence Order, Development, and Democracy Darin Christensen, David D. Laitin

Castle Lectures Series
Publication date:
09 Jul 2019
Yale University Press
392 pages: 235 x 156mm
85 b-w illus.

Authors Christensen and Laitin argue that an interplay of geographic, historical, and demographic factors undergird sub-Saharan states’ post‑independence struggles to eradicate poverty, establish democratic accountability, and quell civil unrest. They set out the founding fathers’ challenges in trying to govern new states, many of which are ethnically diverse and geographically diffuse and sparsely populated, with little administrative capacity. With the legacies of the slave trade, partition, Christian missionaries, and extractive colonial institutions complicating their efforts, many African states faced stagnation, authoritarianism, and civil strife. Recent years have seen promising attempts to restore democracy to states under authoritarian rule and liberalize their economies, suggesting that the region is moving toward a new era. This broad, comprehensive, and richly illustrated book is an indispensable source for scholars and policy analysts trying to understand African countries’ post-independence struggles.

Darin Christensen is an assistant professor of public policy and political science at the University of California, Los Angeles. David D. Laitin is the James T. Watkins IV and Elise V. Watkins Professor of Political Science at Stanford University.

"An impressive achievement--a bold, highly original, and coherent account of the political and economic failures of post-independence sub-Saharan Africa and its prospects for a better future, which will appeal to a wide variety of audiences with differing levels of knowledge."--Nelson Kasfir, Dartmouth College

"This is the first book to provide a rich integration of the history of Africa since independence with the relevant social science theory and evidence. It will decisively shape the way we think about the continent from now on."--James Robinson, University of Chicago

"The Long Walk from Freedom is the kind of book that my students have been requesting for years. It provides an excellent introduction to African politics while at the same time covering new ideas and debates in sufficient depth that even the most expert among us can learn a lot. It is a wonderful resource for students and lovers of Africa—both those who are just discovering the continent and those who have worked on it for 20 years."--Séverine Autesserre, author of Peaceland and The Trouble with the Congo