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Wars, Guns and Votes: Democracy in Dangerous Places Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
What I will comment on, is his manipulation of the case studies to prove his point. In particular, in his case study of Cote d'Ivoire, he talked about Robert Guei leading a coup against Laurent Gbagbo in 2002, which simply isn't true. I was in Cote d'Ivoire at the time of the events in question, and it was universally known that Guei had nothing to do with the coup, which was run by a group of Northern officers and politicians. When it became clear that the coup wouldn't succeed in Abidjan, Gbagbo took the opportunity to wipe out some political opponents, including Guei and Alassane Ouattara, who narrowly escaped over the wall to the German Ambassador's house. Of course, if you accept the government line, you would believe that Guei was storming the radio station in his pyjamas, surrounded by his wife, kids and domestic staff, all of whom were killed in the firefight.
A basic google search could have turned up this information (I've just done one), but instead he chose to use a misleading case study that 'proved' his point. It just so happens that I know enough about Cote d'Ivoire to know that this was wrong, but it makes me wonder about everything else in the book that I don't know a lot about.
The analysis of elections, ethnic identity, coups and wars is stimulating and set in the context of UK, US and European developments, not least in that mysterious period in UK history between the end of the Romans and somewhere around 1500 - which is much like Africa today. The proposals for progress are sensible and are built around accountability and security. The penultimate chapter title is "Better dead than fed" and sums up the relationship between food (survival) and the opportunities from federations.
Readers of the Bottom Billion will be pleased to know that this book includes a full list of the countries in an appendix. Both books went to press before the "Lehman disconnect" and the onset of the latest financial and economic crisis: we must hope that the third in the series will not be called the bottom two billion. Some countries, such as Pakistan which gets a passing mention, seem determined to join Afghanistan and the five Central Asian states in the list - and none seem inclined to leave.
In truth, the book mostly concentrates on Africa - anyone wanting to know more about the likes of Bolivia, Cambodia, the Central Asian states or Haiti will not find much here other than general principles.
Professor Collier has an engaging style and as well as being stimulating it is a good read as well. He is a master of the colon: I know of no other book with as many. His occasional intemperate outbursts are a joy. This is a really good book for anyone interested in the world around them, Africa, aid, the application of academic research to real-life problems - and on many other levels too. Recommended.
The basic premise of Wars, Guns and Votes is straightforward: security and accountability are crucial to the economic and social development of national states. They foster economic growth and ensure more equitable distribution of wealth. More importantly, security is a "universal right" or, as Sen would put it, it is both an end and means of development. The problem is that security and accountability are fundamentally public goods whose benefits go beyond individual states and therefore failure to provide them has repercussions beyond international borders. Bringing it closer to home, failure in securing peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is not just costly to our Congolese brothers but also to our nation and other neighbouring states through regional risk contagion, reduced intra-regional trade, increase in refugees and so forth. Like many public goods, the "free-rider" nature of security and accountability leads to inevitable under-provision.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
By any standards, this is not good economics. Definitions of key concepts are not given and the deductive parts of arguments are very sloppy.Published on 14 Dec. 2013 by Nicholas Baigent
Political power is a fact of life. It can be wielded for good or for ill. It is much likely to serve better purposes if it can be shown that those wielding it deserve to have and... Read morePublished on 27 Nov. 2011 by F Henwood
ever wondered why the world is like it is, then read this book and you will be at least a little more in touch with reality.Published on 7 Jun. 2011 by Mr. N. J. Powe
This is the book to read if you are one of those who despair at the plight of "The Bottom Billion" - the number of those of the world's population who live in abject poverty and,... Read morePublished on 1 Sept. 2009 by Dr. Richard N. Strange
The last chapter of Collier's excellent and readable book, is called Changing Reality. And that is what really matters. Read morePublished on 29 July 2009 by Laurie Lee
I've lived in Nairobi, and worked in Bosnia. So I'd seen the NGO gravy-train in all its sordid splendor, confirming my opinion that "aid is a method of transferring money from poor... Read morePublished on 14 July 2009 by Peastick
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