Tolstoy wrote that all happy families are happy alike, while every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. It is tempting to say the same thing of states, as successful states enter an increasingly homogenous globalized economy and weaker states slip into individualized chaos. That would be only partly true. While the state-building efforts considered in this article demonstrate the importance of local contexthistory, culture, individual actors-they also outline some general lessons that may be of assistance in addressing problems confronting states emerging from conflict. Put another way, structural problems and root causes are part of the problem of “state failure”, but an important question for policy-makers is how weak states deal with crisis. The nature of such a crisis can vary considerably. The emphasis here is on post-conflict reconstruction of states-a central concern, inasmuch as around half of all countries that emerge from war lapse back into it within five years.1