Coups and Army Rule in Africa


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Motivations and Constraints, Second Edition

Samuel Decalo

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With permanent military rule widespread throughout Africa, it is clearly important to understand the role of the military in this continent. In Coups and Army Rule in Africa, published in 1976, Samuel Decalo examined four lesser-studied French-African states—the Congo, Benin, Uganda, and Togo—to discover what actually happened when military replaced civilian rule. He argued that African armies cannot be viewed as cohesive, Westernized hierarchies intervening in the political arena from altruistic motives but are instead coteries of cliques composed of ambitious officers seeking self-advancement. Military rule, said Decalo, has not necessarily fostered socioeconomic or political development or stability. Now in a new edition of his provocative book, Decalo defends his position, adding another case study, Niger, bringing the text up to date, and providing a new section on the constraints on military rule in each case study.

"Decalo's study of the role of the military in African politics is an example of political science at its best. His field work in Togo, Dahomey, Congo-Brazzaville, and Uganda, contributes solid empirical evidence to bolster of disprove many popular assumptions. Decalo draws upon these four case studies, as well as upon evidence from many other countries, to argue that the high-minded ideals typically ascribed to military regimes have little basis in reality. Instead, he contends that the dominant motive behind most coups and military governments is personal and corporate aggrandizement. . . . His prose [is] terse, cogent, and lively. An important contribution."—Library Journal

"on the has put together a first-rate study of military rule in Africa. Based on extensive field work and very useful interviews with a broad spectrum of witnesses, Coups and Army Rule in Africa emerges as one of the best works currently available onthe subject. . . . Although the author concentrates on the case studies of Uganda, Togo, Dahomey, and Congo-Brazzaville, he is also quite successful in weaving into his account information concerning other coups and styles of military rule."—Choice

"Decalo's study of the military in Dahomey, Togo, Congo/Brazzaville, and Uganda is an important contribution to the literature on the African military. The author's attempts to provide yet another intellectual construct for the examination of military systems in general provides a unique perspective. While one may argue about the application of such a typology, it is clear that Decalo has produced an extremely useful work that should assist scholars in understanding the military in Africa and in theorizing about African military systems."—American Political Science Review

"This is an important book that deserves close reading by policy-makers as well as students of African affairs, for DeCalo's subject is just as much what can happen tomorrow on the African continent as what has happened yesterday. His main attack is on the traditionalist interpretation of military takeovers, which posits a professional and comparatively sophisticated military group moving into a dangerous power vacuum or replacing a weak and corrupt regime with its own brand of national pride and austerity in the interest of much-needed social reform."—Book Forum

"This is an important book and one of the best and most original contributions to have been made over the last five years."—S.E. Finer, The Times Higher Education Supplement

"Worthwhile reading for courses on comparative politics in general or African politics in particular, or indeed for anyone who might be unfamiliar with any of these states."—Political Science Quarterly

"This is a provocative effort and an extremely valuable contribution to the field of African studies."—Edmond J. Keller, The Journal of Politics

"The book is an impressive piece of empirical research, and its historical detail will make it a valuable reference for students of African affairs."—Military Review
ISBN: 9780300040432
Publication Date: July 25, 1990
368 pages, x