THE MIND OF THE AFRICAN STRONGMAN: Conversations with Dictators, Statesmen, and Father Figures

Herman J. Cohen
Vellum, 2015
218 Pages, 17 photos
ISBN 978-0-9864353-0-0 Paperback
ISBN 978-0-9864353-1-7 Hardcover
See an excerpt from the book.
Price: $24.00 Paperback
$34.00 Hardcover

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About the Author

Herman J. Cohen served in the U.S. Foreign Service for 38 years, specializing in African affairs. During service in Africa, he was posted to five U.S. embassies and served as the U.S. ambassador to Senegal. His assignments in Washington included Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs under President George H. W. Bush and Special Assistant for African Affairs to President Ronald Reagan.

Cohen’s honors and awards include the French Legion of Honor and the Belgian Order of Leopold II.

Since 1994, Cohen has been active as president of Cohen and Woods, an international consulting firm specializing in assistance to American corporations doing business in Africa.

He is the author of Intervening in Africa: Superpower Peacemaking in a Troubled Continent (Basingstoke: Macmillan Studies in Diplomacy, and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2000), which received the American Academy of Diplomacy’s Douglas Dillon Award for best writing about diplomatic practice.

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

This  is a book in the ADST-DACOR Diplomats and Diplomacy Series.
To order from ADST email: