Both an informative primer on Nigeria’s history of Islamist conflict and a passionate testimonial on behalf of the 218...



An empathetic inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the 2014 kidnapping of 276 girls from the Chibok Secondary School in Nigeria by the Islamist group Boko Haram.

Nigerian-born poet and novelist Habila (Oil on Water, 2010, etc.) seeks to remind the global community of the plight of the kidnapped girls, most still presumed to be held somewhere in Boko Haram’s forested strongholds in northern Nigeria or in the terrorist group’s bolt-holes in neighboring Niger, Chad, and Cameroon. The author is less interested in assigning blame to former president Goodluck Jonathan’s halfhearted counterterrorism efforts or the international community’s short attention span than in detailing the complex fault lines that perpetuate Boko Haram’s brutal insurgency. After at least two centuries of ethnic and religious conflict, Habila writes that most Nigerians—especially in the north—are “always Muslim or Christian first, ethnic affiliation second, and Nigerian third.” The author briefly traces the history of these conflicts but leaves a more thorough accounting in the hands of historians. While Habila’s purpose is essentially journalistic, he does not shy away from heartbreaking literary asides. He writes of visiting Chibok years after the girls were taken: “it was like going to Hamelin and feeling the weight of the absent boys taken by the Pied Piper.” Habila also identifies long-running themes, tying Boko Haram’s kidnappings back to the Sokoto Caliphate, a 19th-century political entity established through jihad and economically sustained by enslaved Christians from Nigeria’s “Middle Belt.” According to the author, when Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, announced in a propaganda video, “I took your girls. I will turn your girls into slaves,” their parents, “descendants of the Middle Belt ‘pagans,’ understood exactly what he was saying.”

Both an informative primer on Nigeria’s history of Islamist conflict and a passionate testimonial on behalf of the 218 Chibok girls still missing.

Pub Date: Dec. 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9971264-6-4

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Columbia Global Reports

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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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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Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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