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This concise volume from the Boston Review series creates a conversation between leading scholars on Africa and development specialists. The opening salvo comes from economist Miguel (coauthor of Economic Gangsters) who, recalling a visit to Kenya and the plethora of cellphones, road improvements and small stores he witnessed, tentatively posits, "It is now possible to wonder whether the terrible decades of war, famine, and despair are finally over." In the ensuing chapters, nine scholars debate this claim, highlighting technological, political and environmental aspects of African development. Olu Ajakaiye, of the African Economic Research Consortium, questions China's ability to improve African trade markets; Paul Collier (The Bottom Billion) questions Miguel's assertion that democratization is responsible for recent economic gains on the continent. While the book focuses on Africa's recent political and economic gains, the authors do not gloss over the violence, corruption and global economic factors that could still derail Africa's economic renewal, but they avoid "politically correct positive and stereotypically negative" prognostications, making this a refreshing take on the fortunes of Africa in the current century and a fascinating compendium of some of the leading theorists of African development. (Apr.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.