A remarkable story about a war during which thousands followed Fadoyebo’s example and fought valiantly for, and with little...



One Nigerian soldier’s poignant history highlights the enormous and little-known contribution of West African troops in the British Army during World War II.

The colliding forces of racism, colonialism and nationalism came to play in the extraordinary journey of Isaac Fadoyebo (1925-2012), from the Yoruba village of Emure-Ile. In 1942, the young man enlisted in the Royal West African Frontier Force; he served in a medical unit in the depths of the Burmese jungle and managed to survive the war after his unit was decimated by Japanese attack in 1944. British author Phillips, a senior correspondent for Al Jazeera English, came across Fadoyebo’s obscure published account at London’s Imperial War Museum and recognized its significance as one of only a few from the point of view of the African participants. Why would a Nigerian youth enlist in the colonial army to fight a war that was anathema to himself and his enslaved people? With little desire to stay and work the family farm and not enough money for advanced schooling, Fadoyebo swallowed the recruiter’s propaganda pitch, which promised a rich return of British justice, pay and the prospect of a good job after the war. At the time, Nigeria was a “model” British protectorate, and the people were considered cheerful and dependable, with an “instinctive respect for position and authority.” As a medical orderly, Fadoyebo had to infiltrate the perilous Arakan mountain region to check the invading Japanese; he was gravely wounded in the leg after the attack and left for dead in the jungle. Thanks largely to the care of a kindly Muslim villager, Fadoyebo made it through, returning to his village a rare and triumphant survivor to face the next step in gaining his country’s independence from Britain.

A remarkable story about a war during which thousands followed Fadoyebo’s example and fought valiantly for, and with little recognition from, the British Empire.

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-78074-522-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Oneworld Publications

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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