Sunday, 28 August 2011

Congo Masquerade now available

I am pleased to inform you that Congo Masquerade is now available. Orders can be placed with Zed Books. Many thanks to everyone in Congo, Europe and the US who helped make this book possible.

Here is what the experts have to say.

'The Trefon volume is indispensable reading for all those interesting in post-conflict state-building. He provides a devastating critique of how the large international investment in this project in DR Congo has fallen far short, through the failings both of the external parties and the Congolese political elite.'
- Professor Crawford Young, University of Wisconsin

'Trefon's sweeping survey of reconstruction efforts in Congo, from bridge repairs to security sector reform, delivers a stinging indictment of both the Congolese government and its international partners, leaving no one unscathed. Sure to create controversy, this book makes for a compelling read and calls for an understanding of Congo and the Congolese on their own terms.'
- Professor Pierre Englebert, Pomona College

'Understanding the Congo -- formerly Zaïre -- is not easy, which explains why we tend easily to think according to clichés, old and new. If we are to move away from Manichean interpretations, including whether the Congo is or is not 'the heart of darkness', we need to rely on scholarship that is at once empirical and sensitive to the historical and cultural context of the country's present condition. Trefon's Congo Masquerade is an important contribution to such scholarship since it asks the right questions about why aid has failed to lead to the required reforms in the country. Focusing on the contemporary period, Trefon explains how state failure can be 'profitable' for those who control it and why the prevalent political culture prevents reform from taking root. Written in simple prose and short chapters, this book will provide a more convincing explanation of what is happening in the Congo than most other books available today. It should be mandatory reading for all those who are concerned with the country or are involved in efforts to reform the state and spur development.'
- Professor Patrick Chabal, Kings College London

'Trefon has written a compelling and well-informed account of the ever unfolding catastrophe that is the Congo; he ably chronicles the mixtures of incompetence, venality, and short-sighted selfish interests on the part of domestic and international actors that have been that country's undoing. This is an excellent introduction to the Congo's complex problems.'
- Dr Nicolas van de Walle, Department of Government, Cornell University

'An impressive piece of work. In 150 pages of concisely analyzed and carefully referenced data, Trefon covers the most salient features of the Congo's 'unending crisis'. There is plenty of blame to be shared, and Trefon evenhandedly identifies the tacit collusion that links the transnational networks of 'aid donors', INGO's, and local NGOs and Congolese actors. The combination of 'development aid' that 'neither aids nor develops with a largely impotent yet arbitrary state apparatus -the legitimacy of which has been in doubt for over fifty years- accounts in large part for the appalling gap between the Congo's potential and its enduring misery. In a nuanced yet compelling way, Trefon argues (as others have done for Liberia and Sierra Leone) for the need to 'put the state back in' and to reform it in such a way as to give it the capacity to deliver public goods. He also points out that, contrary to some Western stereotypes, the Congolese have maintained a genuine sense of national identity which (whether or not it represents a form of 'imagined community') suggests that the Congo is, in some ways, a nation in search of a state, and that 'state-building' may be a more urgent priority than 'nation-building'.'
- Edouard Bustin, Boston University


  1. Will Congo Masquerade also be available as an ebook?

  2. Dear Stephen, Thank you for your interest in this work.
    This is the response I received from the publisher:
    'Your book will be out as an ebook, initially at a high price via companies that supply to academic libraries, but in the next few weeks it will be available via an increasing number of online retailers at the equivalent of a paperback price.'

  3. $22.95

    Though perhaps some venal person will post the book elsewhere for free for those English speakers/readers in the Congo to peruse.