Ed 's Reviews > Tropical Gangsters: One Man's Experience with Development and Decadence in Deepest Africa

Tropical Gangsters by Robert Klitgaard
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's review
Sep 07, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: africa
Read in August, 2013

Equatorial Guinea may be the worst governed nation and with the most badly managed economy in the world--although terms like "govern" don't really apply to this tiny, newly oil-rich enclave on the coast of west Africa. The head of state, Teodoro Obiang, seized power from his uncle, Francisco Macías, who became head of state when the colonial power, Spain, left in 1968. Macias was credibly accused of genocide, cannibalism and total insanity--he spoke to God regularly and acted based on those discussions. Obiang is preferable only in comparison.

While Klitgaard's book is dated--he finished while the discover and exploitation of oil fields wasn't even being considered--it remains a valuable, entertaining and occasionally frustrating account of the collision of the first world with--well with whatever world if after the third.

Klitgaard worked in the planning ministry of EQ for over two years, his salary paid by the World Bank, in order to help them get up to western standards in a few minimal (and ultimately completely inconsequential) areas. The institutions that took it upon themselves to intervene into the economic and social collapse there were the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the United Nations. In each case their efforts worsened the problems they had come to help solve.

At the end of "Tropical Gangsters" Klitgaard wasn't optimistic about the future. Everything that has happened since then has shown his caution was well placed.


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