We all know that many African countries face political tyranny, failed capitalist development, and violent domestic conflict. What is less clear is what relationship may exist between effective democratic institutions and the solution of the last two problems. Richard Sandbrook draws on the experience with democratisation of a carefully selected sample of countries: Ghana, Mali and Niger in West Africa; Zambia, Tanzania and Madagascar in East Africa; and Sudan. He illustrates the diversity of African experiences of the transition to democratic political forms and the complex relationships between democratic institutions and economic reform and social order. He concludes that the ultimate value of democratic institutions lies in whether they lead to economic progress and social justice and peace.