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William Reno provides a powerful, scholarly yet shocking account of the inner workings of an African state. He focuses upon the ties between foreign firms and African rulers in Sierra Leone, where politicians and warlords use private networks that exploit relationships with international businesses to buttress their wealth and so extend their powers of patronage. This permits them to expand the reach of their governments in unorthodox ways, but in the process they undermine the bureaucracty of their own states. Dr Reno suggests that as the post-colonial state is eroded there is a return to the enclave economies and private armies that characterised the pre-colonial and colonial arrangements between European businessmen or administrators and some African political figures.
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