Michael Bratton and Robert Mattes.

Reviewed By Devra Moehler.

Observers of sub-Saharan Africa are sharply divided over the consequences of democratic and market reforms. Bratton, Mattes, and Gyimah-Boadi enter this polarized debate armed with extensive data about how ordinary Africans feel about the changes underway. The authors are generally hopeful about the prospects for democracy, noting that Africans define democracy in liberal terms, prefer democratic regimes, and give civil and political freedoms precedence over economic goods when evaluating their governments. (They are less sanguine about the popularity of market reforms.) And in sharp contrast to the social and cultural explanations that are prevalent in African studies, these authors’ contention is that Africans are influenced more by what they know and experience than by who they are and what they believe. As the first comprehensive review of public opinion in sub-Saharan Africa, this book is essential reading for those interested in democracy and development — and will have a dramatic impact on the political economy of reform in Africa and elsewhere.