In October 2014, huge protests across Burkina Faso succeeded in overthrowing the long-entrenched regime of their authoritarian ruler, Blaise Compaoré. Defying all expectations, this popular movement went on to defeat an attempted coup by the old regime, making it possible for a transitional government to organize free and fair elections the following year. In doing so, the people of this previously obscure West African nation surprised the world, and their struggle stands as one of the few instances of a popular democratic uprising succeeding in postcolonial sub-Saharan Africa.
For over three decades, Ernest Harsch has researched and reported from Burkina Faso, interviewing subjects ranging from local democratic activists to revolutionary icon Thomas Sankara, the man once dubbed “Africa’s Che Guevara.” In this book, Harsch provides a compelling and up-to-date history of this little understood country, from the French colonial period to the Compaoré regime and the movement that finally deposed him.
About the Author
Ernest Harsch is a regular contributor on Burkina Faso to the Economist “Intelligence Unit,” and his previous books include Thomas Sankara: An African Revolutionary and African Leaders of the Twentieth Century.
“A major achievement. Taking us from independence to the 2014 popular revolution, this brilliant book enriches our understanding of both revolutions and African history.” — Jack A. Goldstone, George Mason University
“Smart, accessible, and essential reading for all who are interested in African politics. It provides new insight into Burkina Faso’s political history, from Sankara to the 2014 uprising.” — Laura Seay, Colby College
“A fascinating journey through the turbulent history of Burkina Faso. This books shows how the 2014 uprising was both a remarkable and original episode in the country’s long tradition of protests and political inventiveness.” — Marie-Soleil Frère, Université libre de Bruxelles
“A riveting and accessible account of the insurgent actions of ordinary citizens in Burkina Faso, and of the righteous anger that fuels them. Provides excellent insights into the power of popular protest in Africa and beyond.” — Zachariah Mampilly, coauthor of Africa Uprising: Popular Protest and Political Change
“Burkina Faso finds itself at the heart of the current Sahelian crisis, while simultaneously navigating its own revolutionary democratic transition. Harsch’s insightful and lively account offers keen insights into the political history of a fascinating—yet unfortunately understudied—country.” — Leonardo A. Villalón, University of Florida
“Few outsiders understand Burkina Faso better than Harsch, and nobody has written about it with more clarity and elegance. This is a sympathetic yet rigorous introduction to Burkina’s political history, the best there is in English.” — Pierre Englebert, Pomona College
“A must-read for anyone interested in popular protests in Africa. Harsch provides a compelling history of the making of modern Burkina Faso, based on decades of research and an intimate knowledge of the country.” — Maggie Dwyer, University of Edinburgh
“A superb introduction to this small, landlocked country.” — Foreign Affairs
“Rich with detail of Burkinabé society and the complex relationships of power, patronage and social class. . . . Riveting and informative.” — Africa at LSE
“An easy read that students of history and politics will find invaluable.” — Africa Renewal