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Psychoses of power : African personal dictatorships /
Samuel Decalo.
Boulder, Colo. : Westview Press, 1989.
x, 222 p. : maps. --
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Boulder, Colo. : Westview Press, 1989.
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Includes bibliographical references and index.
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Appeared in Choice on 1989-07:
A fascinating study of modern African tyrannies. Decalo explains the social origins of the aberrant regimes of Idi Amin in Uganda, Macias Nguema in Equatorial Guinea, and Jean-Bedel Bokassa in the Central African Republic. The author shows convincingly that because of their utter brutality, their total personal power, and their idiosyncratic and destructive irrationality, these three personal dictatorships are exceptional. They differ markedly in their extreme "psychoses of power" from the conventional African authoritarian political systems. This is not to say that "future instances of brutal personal dictatorship {can} axiomatically be ruled out," for many of the features of the particular social and political crises that fueled the rises of Amin, Bokassa, and Macias suffuse the fabric of many African societies. Yet, however significant structural factors may be in the making of aberrant regimes, it is personality that matters most. Decalo's descriptive analysis of the cruelty and bizarre idiosyncracies of Amin, Macias, and Bokassa is gripping; it helps readers understand the tragic and destructive dimensions of absolute dictatorial power. The process of decolonization and the social marginality of these rulers contributed to their insecurity and fears and in turn accentuated the aberrant tendencies of their respective personalities. This important and thoughtful work deserves a wide audience for what it suggests about African politics and for its contribution to the general analysis of personal tyrants. Public and academic libraries, upper-division undergraduates, and up. -R. Fatton Jr., University of Virginia
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, July 1989
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