About the book
This book offers a colorful and penetrating look at African cultural norms and imperatives at the core of African political and economic performance over the past half-century. The author served in five US embassies in Africa and as Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, this provided him with unique opportunities to engage in private conversations with African heads of state.
Despite billions of dollars of international development assistance poured into Africa since 1955, and despite huge earnings from commodity sales, Africa has lagged far behind most other emerging nations in economic growth and poverty reduction. Through these conversations, Cohen provides an opportunity to the African leaders he knew to tell us personally why the initial enthusiasm that accompanied independence went so badly awry. A new third generation of African leadership is now coming to the fore. The key question is, can they and the international donor community learn from and overcome the negative legacies of their predecessors?
This is a book in the ADST-DACOR Diplomats and Diplomacy Series.
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“Hank Cohen’s experience in Africa and access to a wide array of historic African leaders are unparalleled. This unique book provides important lessons from the continent’s past and insights for its future.”
—Kenneth L. Brown, formerly U.S. ambassador to Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Republic of Congo and president, Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training
“That individuals often do make a difference is the thesis of The Mind of the African Strong Man. Based upon his unrivaled experience as an American diplomat in Africa, Hank Cohen's collection of conversations with Africa’s Big Men is invaluable to anyone interested in that continent and its tumultuous modern history.”
—Edward Marks, Minister-Counselor (ret.), U.S. Foreign Service
“Secretary Cohen is a master storyteller who has made it easier for Africans to form a broad historical perspective through his revealing tales about their rulers.”
—Ahmadu Abubaker, Nigerian Lawyer active in sub-Saharan Africa development issues.