Book Talk - Magnificent and Beggar Land: Angola Since the Civil War


Ricardo Soares de Oliveira, Oxford University

in convesration with

Ian Gary, Senior Policy Manager, Oxfam America


Monday, April 13, 2015

5pm - 6pm


US Policy & Advocacy Office

1101 17th Street NW, Suite 1300
Washington, DC 20036

RSVP's Required: [email protected]

Book reviews:

‘[T]his little-studied kleptocracy is an accepted part of the western system. Expat western workers keep Angola ticking. Angolan oligarchs inhabit the global luxury economy of British public schools, Swiss asset managers, Hermès stores etc. In fact, argues the Oxford political scientist Ricardo Soares de Oliveira in his marvelous new book, Magnificent and Beggar Land: Angola Since the Civil War, we live in “an oligarch’s ideal world”. Western countries barely even pretend to disapprove of kleptocrats anymore.’ — Financial Times 

“Angola is  a nation of infuriating contradictions . Oil and diamonds give it a wealth that is rare in sub-Saharan Africa, and you see the riches in jewelry shops, Champagnes and $10,000-a-month one-bedroom apartments in the capital, Luanda. Under the corrupt and autocratic president, José Eduardo dos Santos, who has ruled for 35 years, billions of dollars flow to a small elite — as kids starve.”Nicholas Kristof, New York Times

Book Summary:

Magnificent and Beggar Land is a powerful account of fast-changing dynamics in Angola, an important African state that is a key exporter of oil and diamonds and a growing power on the continent. Based on three years of research and extensive first-hand knowledge of Angola, it documents the rise of a major economy and its insertion in the international system since it emerged in 2002 from one of Africa’s longest and deadliest civil wars. The government, backed by a strategic alliance with China and working hand in glove with hundreds of thousands of expatriates, many from the former colonial power, Portugal, has pursued an ambitious agenda of state-led national reconstruction. This has resulted in double-digit growth in Sub-Saharan Africa’s third largest economy and a state budget in excess of total western aid to the entire continent. Scarred by a history of slave trading, colonial plunder and war, Angolans now aspire to the building of a decent society. How has the regime, led by President José Eduardo dos Santos since 1979, dealt with these challenges, and can it deliver on popular expectations? Soares de Oliveira’s book charts the remarkable course the country has taken in recent years.

About the Author:

Ricardo Soares de Oliveira is a University Lecturer in Comparative Politics (African Politics) at the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford, Official Fellow of St Peter\s College, and a Fellow with the Global Public Policy Institute, Berlin.

His research interests include African politics (particularly West and Central Africa), the geopolitics of energy and international political economy, especially in the fields of natural resource extraction, state decay and post-conflict reconstruction.He is the author of Oil and Politics in the Gulf of Guinea (2007), co-editor of China Returns to Africa: A Rising Power and a Continent Embrace (with Chris Alden and Daniel Large, 2008) and The New Protectorates: International Tutelage and the Making of Liberal States (with James Mayall, 2011). His forthcoming book is Magnificent and Beggar Land: Angola after the Civil War (2014). Soares de Oliveira has worked in the field of governance and the extractive industries for Oxfam, the World Bank, the European Commission, Catholic Relief Services, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), and the French Ministry of Defense, among others. Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Google+