The Barrel of a Gun: Political Power in Africa and the Coup d'État

In this powerful and concentrated exam­ ination of army interventions in African politics, Ruth First produces a general theory of power for independent states which goes a long way towards explain­ ing why they are so vulnerable to military coups. She gives detailed accounts of the coups in Nigeria,the Sudan and Ghana, and includes material on the role of the army in Algeria and Egypt,showing the kinds of conflict which lead to the situation where the political machinery is short-circuited and guns do the leading. She makes use of interviews, conveying a vivid idea of what a coup means to those involved in it.
'I count myself an African', writes Ruth First,'and there is no cause I hold dearer.' And though she makes harsh judgement on Africa's independent leaderships. her purpose is not to confirm irrational European prejudice but to contribute to the continent's ultimate liberation.

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