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Africa’s Totalitarian Temptation: The Evolution of Autocratic Regimes

Dave Peterson
Africa’s Totalitarian Temptation: The Evolution of Autocratic Regimes
ISBN: 978-1-62637-824-7
ISBN: 978-1-62637-847-6
2020/279 pages/LC: 2019019600
"Lucidly written and cogently argued, this book skillfully weaves together rich analyses of the differing autocratic regimes that have endured on the African continent in the wake of the democratization wave of the 1990s." —Moses Khisa, North Carolina State University


Disappointment with the ability of democracy to deliver economic rewards in much of Africa—and with the persistence of instability, corruption, and poor governance in democratic regimes—has undermined democracy's appeal for many on the continent. At the same time, many external actors are expressing sympathy for regimes that have demonstrated an ability to impose stability and deliver economic growth, despite the limits placed on their citizens' freedom.

In this context, Dave Peterson asks: Is totalitarianism emerging as an acceptable alternative to democracy in Africa? And if so, with what consequences? Peterson draws on extensive research in countries across the continent to thoroughly explore the dilemma of the totalitarian temptation.


Dave Peterson is senior director of the Africa Program at the National Endowment for Democracy.


  • Africa's Totalitarian Temptation.
  • A Short History of Totalitarianism in Africa.
  • "The North Korea of Africa": Eritrea.
  • Rise and Fall of the Developmental State: Ethiopia.
  • A Postmodern Totalitarian Paradise: Rwanda.
  • Totalitarianism and Islamism: Sudan.
  • Totalitarianism at Bay: Zimbabwe.
  • Totalitarianism, Sultanism, and Kleptocracy: Equatorial Guinea.
  • The Future of Totalitarianism in Africa.