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In the later decades of the 20th century, Africa plunged into political chaos. States failed, governments became predators, and citizens took up arms. In When Things Fell Apart, Robert H. Bates advances an explanation of state failure in Africa. In so doing, he not only plumbs the depths of the continent’s late-century tragedy, but also the logic of political order and the foundations of the state. This book covers a wide range of territory by drawing on materials from Rwanda, Sudan, Liberia, and Congo. Written to be accessible to the general reader, it is nonetheless a must-read for scholars and policy makers concerned with political conflict and state failure.