Tropical Gangsters: One Man's Experience with Development and Decadence in Deepest Africa

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Selected as one of the six best nonfiction books of 1990 by the editors f the New York Times Book Review, this is a compelling and entertaining account of the author’s two-and-a-half year adventure in Equatorial Guinea, and his efforts to get this small bankrupt African nation on the path of structural development.

Armed with his surfboard and a $10-million-dollar loan from the World Bank, Robert Klitgaard, a Harvard-trained economist, arrived in Equatorial Guinea, eager to rehabilitate its ruined economy. Tropical Gangsters is his fascinating and compelling account of his two-and-a-half-year adventure and an insightful look at why foreign aid so often fails. Selected as one of the sx best nonfiction books of 1990 by The New York Times Book Review.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times Books of the Century
[Klitgaard's] style is more that of a novelist or travel writer than of an economist, and his tale...has the twists and surprises of fiction.
Books of the CenturyNew York Times
[Klitgaard's] style is more that of a novelist or travel writer than of an economistand his tale...has the twists and surprises of fiction.
New York Times Books of the Century
[Klitgaard's] style is more that of a novelist or travel writer than of an economist, and his tale...has the twists and surprises of fiction.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465087600
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 9/1/1991
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 296
  • Sales rank: 537,691
  • Lexile: 900L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.94 (w) x 9.14 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Klitgaard is the author of Tropical Gangsters and Choosing Elites. A former associate professor of public policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School, he is currently President and University Professor of Claremont Graduate University.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    An engaging look at an infrequently examined country, circa 1986-1988

    A concise and sympathetic review of the author's time, observations, & collaboration working in Equatorial Guinea. The "tropical gangsters" title is pulled from the book, but is misleading, as the focus of the book is on those who tried to improve the country at the time, rather than on the corrupt functionaries on the periphery of this story who helped to drag the political environment down. While Chapters 6 & 7 sagged a bit from the policy-heavy details, and the lack of a cheat sheet (or indexing of the ministers the author dealt with) made it hard to keep all the "Dons" and their roles in government straight, the book covers a lot of ground in its 273 pages, and gives the reader a rich feel for the work and physical environment.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2007

    A reviewer

    I had the chance to visit Equatorial Guinea in 2004, and I wish that I had read this book prior to that trip. Not only would it have opened my eyes to more of what this fascinating country has to offer, it would have made more sense of the place to a 25-year-old certified Western city slicker. Klitgaard does an amazing job of describing the country, the culture, the people, and world politics while he's at it.

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