The Real Politics Of The Horn Of Africa by Alex de Waal

The Blurb On The Back:

The Real Politics Of The Horn Of Africa delves into the business of politics in the turbulent, war-torn countries of north-east Africa.  It is a contemporary history of how politicians, generals and insurgents bargain over money and power, and use violence to achieve their goals.

Drawing on a thirty-year career in Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia, including experience as a participant in high-level peace talks, Alex de Waal provides a unique and compelling account of how these countries’ leaders run their governments, conduct their business, fight their wars and, occasionally, make peace.  De Waal shows how leaders operate on a business model, securing funds for their ‘political budgets’, which they use to rent the provisional allegiances of army officers, militia commanders, tribal chiefs and party officials at the going rate.  This political marketplace is eroding the institutions of government and reversing state building – and it is fuelled by oil exports, aid funds and western military assistance for counter-terrorism and peacekeeping.

The Real Politics Of The Horn Of Africa is a sharp and disturbing book with profound implications for international relations, development and peacemaking in the Horn of Africa and beyond.

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

Read More »

The New Scramble For Africa by Pádraig Carmody

The Blurb On The Back:

Once marginalized in the world economy, Africa today is a major global supplier of crucial raw materials like oil, uranium and coltan.  China’s part in this story has loomed particularly large in recent years, and the American military footprint on the continent has also expanded.  But a new scramble for resources, markets and territory is now taking place in Africa, involving not just state, but non-state actors, including Islamic fundamentalist and other rebel groups.

The second edition of Pádraig Carmody’s popular book explores the duamics of the new scramble for African resources, markets and territory, and the impact of current investment and competition on people, the environment, and political and economic development on the continent.  Fully revised and updated throughout its chapters explore old and new economic power interest in Africa; oil, minerals, timber, biofuels, land, food and fisheries; and the nature and impacts of Asian and South African investment in manufacturing and other sectors.

The New Scramble For Africa will be essential reading for students of African studies, international relations and resource politics, as well as anyone interested in current affairs.

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

Read More »

Do We Need Economic Inequality? by Danny Dorling

The Blurb On The Back:

Although economic inequality provokes widespread disquiet, its supposed necessity is rarely questioned.  At best, a basic level of inequality is seen as a necessary evil.  At worst, it is seen as insufficient to encourage aspiration, hard work and investment – a refrain sometimes used to advocate ever greater inequality.

In this original new book, Danny Dorling critically analyses historical trends and contemporary assumptions in order to question the idea that inequality is an inevitability.  What if, he asks, widespread economic inequality is actually just a passing phase, a feature of the capitalist transition from a settled rural way of life to our next highly urban steady-state?  Is it really likely that we face a Blade Runner-style dystopian future divided between a tiny elite and an impoverished mass?

Dorling shows how, amongst much else, a stabilizing population, changing gender relations and rising access to education make a more egalitarian alternative to this nightmare vision not only preferable, but realistic. This bold contribution to one of the most significant debates of our time will be essential reading for anyone interested in our economic, social and political destiny. 

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

Read More »