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 people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries".
At the same time I believed that we should be exporting democracy at the point of a bayonet...for everyone's sake. But it didn't seem to be working, and I didn't know why.
'Wars Guns & Votes' was recommended to me by an old Kenya hand, because it speaks about these issues - and more. Professor Collier's book explains why aid is currently likely to do as much damage as good. But he goes on to suggest plausable ways to mend the problem.
Similarly, reading this book has convinced me that we have all been kidding ourselves about the sham democracy that African elections so often disguise. Insisting that Presidents simply allow a vote achieves nothing. But linking a more accountable aid scheme with nation-building, military support and a real democracy in the way he suggests here might just bring the boat home.
I hope some big cheese reads this book, and is brave enough to take its advice to heart. But to anyone who is trying to form an opinion about Africa's political future, this book is also a must. It's sometimes a little drawn out, but on the whole Collier's self effacing style overcomes his need to produce the sort of lofty academic tome that usually flourishes in centres of higher learning.