Academic journal article African Studies Quarterly

Felix Gerdes. 2013. Civil War and State Formation: The Political Economy of War and Peace in Liberia

Academic journal article African Studies Quarterly

Felix Gerdes. 2013. Civil War and State Formation: The Political Economy of War and Peace in Liberia

Article excerpt

Felix Gerdes. 2013. Civil War and State Formation: The Political Economy of War and Peace in Liberia. Frankfurt, Germany: Campus. 291 pp.

Civil War and State Formation contains five chapters, which is consistent with Gerdes's five-chapter dissertation that culminated in this book. Chapter one is the introduction. In chapter two, he addresses war, peace, and young states. He moves into chapter three where he addresses the first Liberian civil war by describing the rise of Charles Taylor. The fall of Taylor becomes the subject of the fourth chapter, which also addresses the birth of Liberia's modern democracy, the rise of the first African female president and her present rule. Finally, chapter five concludes the book and situates the journey of Liberia in the theory of statehood, democracy and bureaucracy.

Gerdes uses the first chapter of the book as the foundation of Liberia's wars in light of economic gain for both warlords and governments. He traces these wars to neo-liberal economics and provides hope for the reader when he describes not just Liberia's failures but her successes in terms of political progress demonstrated in democratic elections. In a circuitous manner, the author is finally able to delineate what the other chapters will cover. In the second chapter, the writer uses sub-topics to delineate specific topics, albeit in a convoluted manner. He expatiates on domination in terms of Africa's traditions, the influence of colonization, and their combined effect on modern-day Africa with its propensity towards corruption.

The third chapter returns to the history of Liberia as a land for freed slaves; and how the presence of these freed slaves (with their superiority attitudes) antagonized the indigenes already occupying the land. The author shares with readers on how this antagonism led to the seemingly never-ending conflicts. The author then debunks media sensitization of the Liberian-Sierra Leonean conflict, and, basing it on data, positions it in light of society, economics, and bureaucracy. The author finally situates the Liberian crisis within former colonized Africa and the consequent loyalties to particular warring factions, thus explaining how the Liberian war spilled over to Sierra Leone and the not so strong effects on Nigeria, Cote d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, and Ghana, and Libya. …

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