The World Bank has been engaged in a search for ‘star pupils’ in Africa for the last decade. Finding these good reformers allows the Bank to claim that its massive intervention in the continent can be justified. A new book by Graham Harrison at the University of Sheffield examines the role of the World Bank in constructing “governance states” in Africa. Harrison argues that the “intimacy of the Bank’s intervention allows it to represent its actions not as external intervention but as a ‘partner’ within sovereign states”. “The fragility of governance states and the largesse of external agencies produce the ‘grease’ that allows African elites to embrace the governance model as part of their own desires for enrichment and social ascendance.” Should be required reading for members of the Commission for Africa.