A gripping account of a disastrous situation in the making.




A dynamic exploration of the geopolitics of oil that link Nigeria with its two biggest customers, Great Britain and the United States, revealing the corruption and poverty—and vitality—that permeate that oil-rich country.

Financial Times legal correspondent Peel, who served as the publication’s former West Africa correspondent for many years, calls Nigeria “a little laboratory for the arrogance of a fossil-fuel-obsessed world” and the Niger Delta region a “Mad Max world of roving bandits.” How it got this way is a long, complicated story, dating back to the palm-oil wars of the 19th century, when Nigeria was created as a state by and for the benefit of the British. Peel’s brief history of European colonialism in the area pulls no punches. His present-day report opens and closes with his intrepid visits to militants in the lawless swamps and jungles of the delta who are determined to get their share of the country’s oil wealth. In between he talks with oil-company executives, an urban hustler and warlord and drivers of Lagos's motorbike taxis and buses; he challenges police bribery; and he spends time aboard a U.S. Coast Guard vessel patrolling Nigeria’s coastal waters for oil-thieving pirates. The author’s message is clear: If the West is looking to Nigeria as insurance against oil-supply problems in the unstable Middle East, the bet is a shaky one. Peel’s vivid reporting reveals the systematic plundering of Nigeria’s assets by native politicians and foreign businessmen alike. While the alleged complicity of Western financial institutions in Nigeria’s internal corruption is not news, the author’s judgment that London is in many ways no better than Lagos is surprising. In both cities he sees the same disparity between the haves and the have-nots, with Lagos being more open and blatant in its injustices and abuses of power. In a note of hopefulness about Nigeria’s future, Peel asserts that its very newness as a nation makes radical change more possible than in older countries like Great Britain, where wrongs have been entrenched and concealed for centuries.

A gripping account of a disastrous situation in the making.

Pub Date: July 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-56976-286-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Lawrence Hill Books/Chicago Review

Review Posted Online: Jan. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2010

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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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