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Explaining Successes in Africa: Things Don’t Always Fall Apart

Erin Accampo Hern
Explaining Successes in Africa: Things Don’t Always Fall Apart
ISBN: 978-1-955055-78-9
ISBN: 978-1-955055-79-6
ISBN: 978-1-68585-279-5
2023/189 pages/LC: 2022039029
"A masterful study of policy successes in Africa…. This book is much more than a specialized monograph—it is a model for the application of the comparative method…. Highly recommended."—Choice

"Hern provides a robust analysis of key questions in African politics and development…. Well written and engaging, her book pushes conventional thinking about the region. Students and scholars alike will benefit from its insights." —Amy Patterson, University of the South


Choice Outstanding Academic Book!

What does it take for African countries to achieve political and economic successes? Scholarship on Africa tends to focus on the barriers to reaching desired outcomes. While recognizing that these barriers are very real, Erin Hern takes a contrary, unabashedly optimistic approach: rather than treating countries that perform well as "miracles," she seeks to normalize their success, analyzing the performance of those that have made good choices in the face of adverse circumstances.

Hern shows how most-similar and most-different cases can be used to test major explanatory theories. Making the topic accessible to nonexperts, in each of five issue chapters she highlights two countries that have performed well, evaluates which theories can best explain their successes, and then turns to two shadow cases (countries that have not performed as well) to evaluate whether those theories remain plausible. Including an opening chapter that introduces the theory and methods of comparative politics, this provocative book is ideal for classroom use.


Erin Accampo Hern is associate professor of political science in the Maxwell School, Syracuse University.


  • Explaining Successes in Africa: Why and How.
  • Overcoming Obstacles to Economic Growth.
  • Achieving Good Governance.
  • Public Health Responses to Malaria.
  • City Planning for Climate Adaptation.
  • Advancing Gender Equality.
  • African Successes in Comparative Perspective.