Though the author sets aside “Boko Haram’s treatment of women” due to “reasons of space,” he offers a highly useful, timely,...

BOKO HARAM

THE HISTORY OF AN AFRICAN JIHADIST MOVEMENT

A diagnostic study of the ultraconservative “mobile jihadist gang” from Nigeria that has taken a violent toll on government and civilians alike.

In 2014, the kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls from the Nigerian town of Chibok brought worldwide attention to this terrorist group whose name derives in Hausa-Arabic from “Western-style education” (boko) and “forbidden” (haram). Thurston (Salafism in Nigeria: Islam, Preaching, and Politics, 2016) systematically examines the movement’s origins as a religious study group in 2002 in the Nigerian city of Maiduguri, led by the charismatic preacher Muhammad Yusuf, through subsequent chronological phases: a decisive turn to violence by 2009, uprising (and death of Yusuf) followed by government suppression, and re-emergence in 2010 as a terrorist group linked to al-Qaida. In the first chapter, “The Lifeworld of Muhammad Yusuf,” the author provides a solid overview of the fluctuating society in northeastern Nigeria from the 1970s, when Yusuf was born and the north of the country lagged in development compared to the south, through the 1990s, when disruptive urbanization and globalization pushed people into migration, poverty, and illiteracy. Western schools, a remnant of British colonialism—Nigeria became independent in 1960—were seen as highly suspect places. As Thurston writes, “Western-educated politicians and technocrats have presided over a system that has stolen much of Nigeria’s wealth, leaving much of the population poor.” With Christian-Muslim tensions rising, ultraconservative Salafi teachings became more popular. The author delves deeply into what Yusuf was actually teaching: a core doctrine of religious exclusivism that clearly demonized anyone thinking otherwise, with a focus on the Quranic slogan, “Chaos is worse than killing.” Thurston also weighs the mostly ineffectual government responses and urges a “long-term, fine-grained approach to understanding the Boko Haram crisis.” This book is a good starting point.

Though the author sets aside “Boko Haram’s treatment of women” due to “reasons of space,” he offers a highly useful, timely, illuminating work about a little-understood terrorist group.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-691-17224-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Princeton Univ.

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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