Opening a newspaper or turning on a television news channel anywhere in the world invariably reveals public interest in government ‘corruption’. But in nearly every discussion of the phenomenon, the viewer or reader is immediately confronted with the question of definitions, and the limitations of language. The word ‘corruption’ has been used, to some extent, as a convenient catch-all to present what in nearly every case, are a series of highly complex human interactions. It may entail forms of profit-making, loss, bargain, deal-making and breaking, or other forms of everyday or business relationships which are intimately tied into the very exercise of living. When people speak of ‘corruption’ they are hardly ever talking just about straightforward, single actions, such as ‘bribery’ or ‘embezzlement’, since even such apparently explicable acts contain within them an array of other social and political choices and contexts. Indeed, as this book will explore throughout, the idea of ‘corruption’ in any particular context is central not only to how the state operates, but also to how the state is imagined and discussed. It is a term whose ambiguity invites the use of inverted commas in many respects. However, this book, while largely following that convention, argues that its implications and effects were often real and unambiguous.