Few debates have engulfed the literatures of comparative politics and international relations for as long and as intensively as that between advocates of different schools of thought on how to build stable and democratic polities in divided societies. Especially when such societies emerge from often long and vicious conflict, the task is formidable at the best of times, and the track record of success patchy. The question, therefore, is which approach is the most promising to attain the twin goals of peace and democracy is not merely academic navel-gazing but of immediate and lasting relevance to the countries embarking on state-building after conflict and is, by extension, often also significant in its implications for regional and international security more broadly.

This essay reviews four volumes on post-conflict state-building:

An open-access version of the article is available on JSTOR.