This book addresses several of the classic questions in African Studies. In the pre-colonial era what were the sources of order in societies without states? And what were the origins of 'traditional' states in Africa? In the colonial period, what caused the divergent patterns of agricultural development? And what were the issues that drove the peasantry into the rebellions which brought an end to colonial rule? Since independence what has been the fate of the African peasantry? What has been the content of the agricultural policies adopted by the governments of Africa? And how can these policies be accounted for? In answering these questions, the book explores various forms of explanation and advances a form of political economy based upon rational-choice analysis.