• African Kaiser

    Robert Gaudi

    At the beginning of the twentieth century, the continent of Africa was a hotbed of international trade, colonialism, and political gamesmanship. So when World War I broke out, the European powers were forced to contend with one another not just in the bloody trenches, but in the treacherous jungle. And it was in that unforgiving land that General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck would make history.

    If all military histories were as thrilling and well written as African Kaiser, I might give up reading fiction.’ — Washington Post

    At the turn of the twentieth century, European colonial powers scrambled in Africa for trade, land and political advantage. When the First World War broke out, they were forced to contend with one another not just in trenches on the Western Front, but in East Africa’s swamps and savannahs. In that unforgiving landscape, General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck and a small cadre of hardened German officers fought as equals with their African troops against the Allies, creating the first truly integrated army of the modern age.

    African Kaiser is the fascinating tale of a forgotten guerrilla campaign: of rhino charges and artillery duels with scavenged naval guns; of hunted German battleships hidden up unmapped river deltas; of a desperate army in the wilderness, cut off from the world, enduring starvation, malaria, and dysentery; and of the remarkable intercontinental voyage of Zeppelin L59, whose improbable 4,000 mile journey to the Equator and back made aviation history. But mostly, it is the incredible true story of General von Lettow-Vorbeck, the only undefeated German commander of the Great War.

    Author

    Robert Gaudi is a freelance writer and historian. At one time or another, he has worked for the National Endowment for the Arts, tended bar, and managed a classic car restoration shop. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia.

    Reviews

    ‘If all military histories were as thrilling and well written as African Kaiser, I might give up reading fiction and literary bio­graphy. … Gaudi writes with the flair of a latter-day Macaulay. He sets his scenes carefully and describes naval and military action like a novelist. His sentences are models of clarity and vivacity, sometimes further enlivened with wry authorial comments.’ — Washington Post

    African Kaiser is an entertaining and insightful read. Gaudi is superb on what made von Lettow such a formidable exponent of irregular warfare and on the reasons why his African soldiers would have followed him to the ends of the earth.’ — Literary Review

    ‘Robert Gaudi combines a researcher’s meticulous precision with a novelist’s consummate storytelling skill to piece together a thousand shards of forgotten history into this astonishing and irresistible confection.’ — Madison Smartt Bell

    Hardback / July 2017 / 9781849048675 / 448pp

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  • Al-Shabaab in Somalia

    Hansen, Stig Jarle

    Revised and updated paperback edition

    Since early 2007 a new breed of combatants has appeared on the streets of Mogadishu and other towns in Somalia: the ‘Shabaab’, or youth, the only self-proclaimed branch of al-Qaeda to have gained acceptance (and praise) from Ayman al-Zawahiri and ‘AQ centre’ in Afghanistan. Itself an offshoot of the Islamic Courts Union, which split in 2006, Al-Shabaab has imposed Sharia law and is also heavily influenced by local clan structures within Somalia itself. It remains an infamous and widely discussed, yet little-researched and understood, Islamist group. Hansen’s remarkable book attempts to go beyond the media headlines and simplistic analyses based on alarmist or localist narratives and, by employing intensive field research conducted within Somalia, as well as on the ground interviews with Al-Shabaab leaders themselves, explores the history of a remarkable organisation, one that has survived predictions of its collapse on several occasions. Hansen portrays Al-Shabaab as a hybrid Islamist organisation that combines a strong streak of Somali nationalism with the rhetorical obligations of international jihadism, thereby attracting a not insignificant number of foreign fighters to its ranks. Both these strands of Al-Shabaab have been inadvertently boosted by Ethiopian, American and African Union attempts to defeat it militarily, all of which have come to nought.

    Author

    Stig Jarle Hansen is an associate professor at the University of Life Sciences in Oslo where he teaches Norway’s only MA in International Relations. He speaks Somali, Swahili and Arabic and is the author of Al-Shabaab in Somalia (Hurst, 2013). Revised and updated paperback edition, 2016.

    Reviews

    ‘Essential reading … Hansen focuses on the complex ideological detours and military tactics of the Shabab from its inception … a succinct and definitive history.’ — The Economist

    Al-Shabaab in Somalia is a judicious and timely study of a poorly understood militant Islamist group. A brave attempt to both historicize and scrutinize Al-Shabaab, it is a must-read for anyone wishing to understand a group that has unleashed havoc in parts of Africa.’ — African Affairs

    ‘E‪xceptional … D‪eserve[s]‪ a broad readership.’ — Nicholas van de Walle, Foreign Affairs‪

    ‘An intimidatingly impressive book. No one else has amassed this level of detail and matched it with analysis. … Stig Jarle Hansen knows more about the positions, decompositions and recompositions of Al-Shabaab than any Western scholar. This book is a real service to us all.’ – Stephen Chan, SOAS, University of London, The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Studies

    ‘If you want to understand the reality of the Al-Shabaab phenomenon in Somalia, its existence in the country and its grounding in that ravaged land, this short book, written by a researcher who actually engaged in person with his research topic, will provide you with more concrete nourishment than a whole raft of official reports.’ — Gérard Prunier, author of From Genocide to Continental War: The ‘Congolese’ Conflict and the Crisis of Contemporary Africa  

    ‪‘Unlike the legion of ivory-tower academics, armchair analysts, and self-promoting pundits who have expatiated about Al-Shabaab without even having set foot anywhere near Somalia, much less ever encountering an adherent of the group, Stig Jarle Hansen is a charter member of the small band of intrepid scholars who, even at the height of the insurgency, still pursued their research in the country, their work consistently informed by direct knowledge of actors and events. His is a comprehensive and accessible treatment of a significant subject. Highly recommended.’ — J. Peter Pham, Director, Michael S. Ansari Africa Center, Atlantic Council, and Editor-in-Chief, The Journal of the Middle East and Africa

    ‘This disturbing but fascinating book not only documents the rise of one of the most dangerous of al-Qaeda’s affiliates but also explains its central importance to Somali politics.  Hansen is a skilful writer whose long experience of Somali life allows him to enter into the thinking of one of the world’s most dangerous fundamentalist groups.’ — Christopher Coker, Professor of International Relations, London School of Economics, and author of Warrior Geeks: How 21st Century Technology is Changing the Way We Fight and Think About War

    ‘So far, no book-length treatment of Al-Shabaab exists in the academic literature, and due to the political and military importance of the group in Somalia and the wider Horn of Africa, policymakers and development workers, as well as area specialists, are in urgent need of such a detailed account.’ –– Markus Hoehne, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology

    ‘Stig Jarle Hansen has written what is undoubtedly the best book on Al-Shabaab […] Predictions of Al-Shabaab’s collapse have occurred frequently since 2008 but, despite notable set-backs, it has survived […] Hansen’s book is an essential tool for those wishing to understand what the future might hold.’ — Magnus Taylor, African Arguments

    ‘A compact and rich history’ — RUSI Journal

    ‘Hansen has travelled widely through Somalia for years and is personally familiar with many of the members and leaders of the movement. As a result, his description of events carries a powerful sense of legitimacy… [He] has put together a remarkably a remarkably detailed account of al-Shabaab’s history … [and] until the distant and unlikely day when something better comes along, Al-Shabaab in Somalia is the definitive book on the subject.’ — Richard J. Norton, Parameters, The US Army War College Quarterly

    Paperback
    March 2016 / 9781849045100 208pp

     

     

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  • Darfur and the British

    R. S. O’Fahey

    This volume presents annotated selections from the British records that were copied in situ by the author in al-Fashir and Kutum in 1970 and 1974 and of which the originals were subsequently destroyed by accident. The British were in Darfur for only forty years (1916–56) and, administratively, their impact was minimal. In retrospect, their most important role was in recording and codifying the customary law and administrative practice under the sultans. Their significance has become the greater recently following reports that the Sudan National Records Office is no long accessible to researchers. Darfur was unique in a Sudanese colonial context in that in 1916 the British conquered a functioning multi-ethnic African Muslim state. Their policy in the forty years of their rule was largely to maintain the system they had inherited from the sultans. Although they made some administrative modifications, it was only in the last few years before independence in 1956 that tentative steps were taken towards change, for example the introduction of local government in the towns. The material described here, a combination of administrative practice and ethnographic reporting, is far from simply academic in importance, but is invaluable on such issues as land tenure, agricultural practice, grazing rights and livestock migration routes, tribal administration and compensation for injury and death.

    Author

    R.S. O’Fahey is Professor of History at the Department of Middle Eastern and African History, University of Bergen, Norway.

    Reviews

    ‘Sean O’Fahey, the premier historian of Darfur, has produced an invaluable compendium of key documents from the brief but significant period of British administration in the province, with insightful commentary. It is a fascinating window into a world that has passed into history, but whose details are still highly relevant to administration and conflict resolution in Darfur today. It is also a record of how the British consolidated Darfur’s older sultanic system of governance, in a way that retains a powerful grip on Darfurians’ political imagination.’ — Alex de Waal, Research Professor and Executive Director of the World Peace Foundation, Tufts University

    ‘This magnificent and carefully evaluated collection of closely commented documents could easily be titled “Understanding Sudan’s Sahelian crisis”, so helpful is it in explaining why the Nilotic giant is choking on his undigested western colony.’ — Gerard Prunier, author of Darfur: The Ambiguous Genocide

    Hardback / January 2017 / 9781850659488 / 352pp

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  • Little Mogadishu

    Carrier, Neil

    ‘Everything you need to know about modern Africa can be found on the crowded streets of Nairobi’s “Little Mogadishu” — the dazzling energy, the unnerving challenges. Neil Carrier has walked those streets, and his rich, nuanced book strips away the cliches and misconceptions to reveal a community in furious flux, wrestling with the dilemmas of a whole continent.’ — Andrew Harding, BBC Africa correspondent and author of The Mayor of Mogadishu

    ‘In this impeccably researched overview, Carrier sheds light on the buzzing economic life of an enigmatic, super-diverse, and marginalized urban neighbourhood. Eastleigh has long been represented through false contradictions (Is it fundamentally Kenyan or Somali? A home or a transit zone? Entrepreneurial success story or cover for pirates and terrorists?). Carrier’s expert demystification contributes to our grasp of refugee studies, urban anthropology, globalization, and development economics.’ — Janet McIntosh, Associate Professor of Anthropology at Brandeis University and author of The Edge of Islam and Unsettled: Denial and Belonging among White Kenyans

    ‘Nairobi’s Somali enclave of Eastleigh is an extraordinary place — a major centre of East African trade as well as of Islamic faith, political intrigue, and refugees seeking a better future. In this wonderful book, Neil Carrier depicts Eastleigh in all its vitality and complexity. I immensely enjoyed reading it, and learned much from it.’ — Gordon Mathews, Professor of Anthropology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and author of Ghetto at the Center of the World: Chungking Mansions, Hong Kong

    Nairobi’s Eastleigh estate has undergone pro- found change over the past two decades. Previously a quiet residential zone, the arrival of vast numbers of Somali refugees catalysed its trans- formation into ‘Little Mogadishu’, a global hub for Somali business. Dozens of malls and hotels have sprouted from its muddy streets, attracting thousands of shoppers. Nonetheless, despite boosting Kenya’s economy, the estate and its residents are held in suspicion over alleged links to Islamic terrorism, especially after the 2013 Westgate Mall attack, while local and international media have suggested with little evidence that its economic boom owes much to capital derived from Indian Ocean piracy. In contrast to such sensationalised reporting, Little Mogadishu is based on detailed historical and ethnographic research and explores the social and historical underpinnings of this economic boom. It examines how transnational networks converged on Eastleigh in the wake of the collapse of the Somali state, attracting capital from the Somali diaspora, and bringing goods—especially clothes and electronics—from Dubai, China and elsewhere that are much in demand in East Africa. In so doing, Little Mogadishu provides a compelling case-study of the developmental impact diasporas and transnational trade can have, albeit in a country where many see this development as suspect.

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  • Lost Islamic History

    Firas Alkhateeb

    REVISED AND EXPANDED EDITION

    Over the last 1,400 years, a succession of Muslim polities and empires expanded to control territories and peoples stretching from southern France to East Africa and South East Asia. Yet many of the contributions of Muslim thinkers, scientists and theologians, not to mention statesmen and soldiers, have been overlooked. The bestselling Lost Islamic History, now in a new updated edition, rescues from oblivion a forgotten past, charting its narrative from Muhammad to modern-day nation-states.

    Yet many of the contributions of Muslim thinkers, scientists, and theologians, not to mention rulers, statesmen and soldiers, have been occluded. This book rescues from oblivion and neglect some of these personalities and institutions while offering the reader a new narrative of this lost Islamic history. The Umayyads, Abbasids, and Ottomans feature in the story, as do Muslim Spain, the savannah kingdoms of West Africa and the Mughal Empire, along with the later European colonisation of Muslim lands and the development of modern nation-states in the Muslim world. Throughout, the impact of Islamic belief on scientific advancement, social structures, and cultural development is given due prominence, and the text is complemented by portraits of key personalities, inventions and little known historical nuggets. The history of Islam and of the world’s Muslims brings together diverse peoples, geographies, and states, all interwoven into one narrative that begins with Muhammad and continues to this day.

    Table of Contents

    1. PRE-ISLAMIC ARABIA
      2. THE LIFE OF THE PROPHET
      3. THE RIGHTLY GUIDED CALIPHS
      4. THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE MUSLIM STATE
      5. INTELLECTUAL GOLDEN AGES
      6. THE ISLAMIC SCIENCES
      7. UPHEAVAL
      8. AL-ANDALUS
      9. THE EDGE
      10. REBIRTH
      11. DECLINE
      12. OLD AND NEW IDEAS

    Firaz Alkhateeb

    Author

    Firas Alkhateeb holds a Masters degree in Middle Eastern Studies with a specialisation in Islamic intellectual history from the University of Chicago. He previously taught Islamic history at Universal School in Bridgeview, Illinois and currently teaches and studies at Darul Qasim in Chicago. He founded and writes the website lostislamichistory.com. You can follow him on Twitter as well under @khateeb88

    Paperback
    September 2017 / 9781849046893 • 232pp

     

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  • Revolution and Authoritarianism in North Africa

    Volpi, Frédéric

    This book offers a much-needed corrective to dominant approaches to understanding political causality during episodes of intense social mobilisation, specifically with a North African context.

    Drawing on analyses of routine governance and of ‘revolutionary’ mobilisation in four countries of the Maghreb — Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya — before, during and after the 2011 uprisings, Volpi explains the different trajectories of these uprisings by showing how specific acts of protest created new arenas of contention that provided actors with new rationales, practices and, ultimately, identities.

    The book illustrates how the dynamics of revolutionary episodes are characterised by the social and political de-institutionalisation of routine mechanisms of (authoritarian) governance. It also details how post-uprising re-institutionalisation and/or conflict are shaped by reconstructed understandings of the uprisings by actors, who are themselves partially the products of these episodes of phenomena.

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  • The Circassian

    Fortna, Benjamin

    Eşref Kuşçubaşı remains controversial in Turkey over fifty years after his death. Elsewhere the man sometimes called the ‘Turkish Lawrence of Arabia’ is far less known but his life offers fascinating insights into the traumatic, increasingly violent struggles that ended the Ottoman Empire and ushered in the modern Middle East. Drawing on Eşref’s private papers for the first time, these pages tell the story of the making of a headstrong ‘self-sacrificing’ officer committed to defending the empire’s shrinking borders. Eşref took on a string of special assignments for Enver Pasha, the rapidly rising star of the Ottoman military, first in Libya against the Italians, then in the Balkan Wars and World War I, before being captured by the forces of the Arab Revolt and turned over to the British and imprisoned on Malta. Released in 1920, he joined the national resistance movement in Anatolia but fell out with Mustafa Kemal’s leadership and switched sides, earning him banishment from the Turkish Republic at its founding and exile until the 1950s. Never far from the action or controversy, Eşref’s dynamic story provides an important counterpoint to the standard narrative of the transition from empire to nation state.

    Author

    Benjamin C. Fortna is Professor and Director, School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies at the University of Arizona. His research focus is the late Ottoman Empire and early Turkish Republic.

    Reviews

    ‘A highly original and important study. Fortna has found a treasure trove of original documents and handwritten memoirs of one of the leading militants of the Young Turk era. He has been able to combine this  archive with important primary sources from the Ottoman and Turkish military archives as well as from the National Archives in the UK. The result is a unique insider’s view of the traumatic and violent final decade of the Ottoman Empire.’ — Erik-Jan Zürcher, Professor of Turkish Studies, University of Leiden

    ‘Ben Fortna provides us with an honest history, of Eşref’s personal trajectory as much as his entanglements with the many world-historical events of his day. In doing so he helps pave the way toward a more nuanced understanding of the woefully understudied transition from the Ottoman Empire to the modern state of Turkey.’ — Christine Philliou, Associate Professor of History, University of California, Berkeley, and author of Biography of an Empire: Governing Ottomans in an Age of Revolution

    ‘Benjamin Fortna balances deftly the grand sweep of imperial collapse with the immediacy of biography. He explores the motivations and methods of Eşref, a “hard man” of the Young Turk era and notorious activist in the sensational events of the 1908-23 period, offering a rare alternative to the normal “clash-of-nations” depiction of the era. The result is a remarkably absorbing, insightful book.’ — Frederick Anscombe, Head of the Department of History, Birkbeck, University of London; author of State, Faith and Nation in Ottoman and Post-Ottoman Lands

    ‘Benjamin Fortna’s book is a major contribution to the history of the under-researched Special Organization (Teşkilât-ı Mahsusa). A biography of a leading CUP self-sacrificing volunteer, Eşref Kuşçubaşı, who occupied significant positions in the organization, The Circassian not only reproduces extremely important and hitherto unused documents and private papers but also draws a much larger picture of Ottoman intelligence and undercover operations during the final years of the empire.’ — M. Şükrü Hanioğlu, Garrett Professor in Foreign Affairs, Princeton University

    ‘Eşref Bey has become a legendary figure, blurring the boundaries between historical reality and popular imagination. It is partly because of this legend and partly because Eşref fought directly opposite another legendary figure that he has been referred to as the Turkish Lawrence of Arabia”. This tag is problematic — Eşref was an Ottoman of Circassian background and, somewhat ironically in the circumstances, he considered T. E. Lawrence as having developed into a legendary figure who far surpassed his historical role—but it is one that has stuck.’ — from Professor Fortna’s Introduction

     

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  • The Mayor of Mogadishu

    Harding, Andrew

    ‘Africa can be explained in dry prose, in figures, in newspaper reports; or it can be explained, as Andrew Harding does in this book, through an astonishing personal story, vivid and utterly memorable. This is a triumph of a book: surprising, informative, and humane.’ —Alexander McCall Smith

    ‘Andrew Harding is one of the great foreign correspondents in any medium. He has a sympathy for Somalia and its people that shines through this powerful book. He disdains cliché and reductive analysis, in the process creating some of the most beautiful writing about Africa that I have ever read.’ —Fergal Keane, BBC journalist

    ‘An excellent portrait of Somalia. Harding captures the agony the country has suffered for the last 25 years but also the strength, resilience and the humour of its remarkable people.’ —Richard Dowden, author of Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles

    A dramatic and unexpectedly uplifting story from inside ‘the world’s most failed state’, The Mayor of Mogadishu is a powerful, timely exploration of what it means to lose your country and then to reclaim it. Andrew Harding, one of the BBC’s most experienced foreign correspondents, tells the story of the tumultuous life of Mohamoud ‘Tarzan’ Nur, an impoverished nomad who was abandoned in a state orphanage in newly independent Somalia before becoming a street brawler and activist. When the country collapsed into civil war and anarchy, Tarzan and his young family became part of an exodus, eventually spending twenty years in north London. But in 2010 Tarzan returned to become the mayor of Mogadishu, a ruined and almost unrecognisable city now mostly controlled by the Islamist militants of Al-Shabaab. For many in the Somali capital and in the diaspora, Tarzan became a galvanising symbol of courage and hope for Somalia. But for others he was a divisive thug who sank beneath the corruption and clan rivalries that continue, today, to threaten the country’s revival. The Mayor of Mogadishu is a rare insider’s account of Somalia’s unravelling, and an intimate portrayal of one family’s extraordinary journey.

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  • Understanding Eritrea

    Plaut, Martin

    The most secretive, repressive state in Africa is haemorrhaging its citizens. In some months as many Eritreans as Syrians arrive on European shores, yet the country is not convulsed by civil war. Young men and women risk all to escape. Many do not survive — their bones littering the Sahara; their bodies floating in the Mediterranean.

    Still they flee, to avoid permanent military service and a future without hope. As the United Nations reported: ‘Thousands of conscripts are subjected to forced labour that effectively abuses, exploits and enslaves them for years.’

    Eritreans fought for their freedom from Ethiopia for thirty years, only to have their revered leader turn on his own people. Independent since 1993, the country has no constitution and no parliament. No budget has ever been published. Elections have never been held and opponents languish in jail. International organisations find it next to impossible to work in the country.

    Nor is it just a domestic issue. By supporting armed insurrection in neighbouring states it has destabilised the Horn of Africa. Eritrea is involved in the Yemeni civil war, while the regime backs rebel movements in Somalia, Ethiopia and Djibouti.

    This book tells the untold story of how this tiny nation became a world pariah.

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  • What is a Refugee?

    Maley, William

    ‘This timely, informative and highly accessible book tackles with the thorny issue of real people in the real world who move out of environments marked by pervasive fear and repression in search of places where they and their children can enjoy safe and more meaningful lives. Maley cuts through much technical jargon and legal terminology to bring to the lay reader an account of how some of the key challenges of refugee protection are being managed in the 21st century. The clarity of the writing and the use of extensive first-hand testimony gives the book a liveliness not often found in work of this nature. Highly recommended for anyone puzzled by the way in which rights of refugees seem to be acknowledged by Western States, but simultaneously criminalised in their search for asylum.’ — Dawn Chatty, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology and Forced Migration and former Director of the Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford

    With the arrival in Europe of over a million refugees and asylum seekers in 2015, a sense of panic began to spread within the continent and beyond. What is a Refugee? puts these developments into historical context, injecting much-needed objectivity and nuance into contemporary debates over what is to be done. Refugees have been with us for a long time — although only after the Great War did refugee movements commence on a large scale — and are ultimately symptoms of the failure of the system of states to protect all who live within it. Providing a terse user’s guide to the complex legal status of refugees, Maley argues that states are now reaping the consequences of years of attempts to block access to asylum through safe and ‘legal’ means. He shows why many mooted ‘solutions’ to the ‘problem’ of refugees — from military intervention to the warehousing of refugees in camps — are counterproductive, creating environments ripe for the growth of extremism among people who have been denied all hope. In a globalised world, he concludes, wealthy states have the resources to protect refugees. And, as his historical account shows, courageous individuals have treated refugees in the past with striking humanity. States today could do worse than emulate them.

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  • Who Killed Hammarskjöld?

    Williams, Susan

    The death of UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld remains one of the biggest mysteries of the twentieth century. Shortly after midnight on 18 September 1961, an aircraft carrying Hammarskjöld and his UN team crashed into dark forest in the British colony of Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), abruptly ending his mission to bring peace to the Congo. Many around the world suspected sabotage, pointing the finger at Britain, Belgium, the USA, and South Africa, as well as the huge multinationals with mining interests in the region. These suspicions have never gone away. A man who cared deeply about social justice, Hammarskjöld sought to shield the newly-independent nations from the predatory aims of the Great Powers. His enemies included colonialists and settlers in Africa who were determined to maintain white minority rule. In Who Killed Hammarskjöld?, Susan Williams carefully navigates a mass of secret documents and witness testimonies suggesting a massive cover-up, to present a case which has already triggered a new investigation by the United Nations.

    Author

    Susan Williams has published widely on Africa, decolonisation and the global power shifts of the twentieth century. Her widely acclaimed book on the founding president of Botswana, Colour Bar (Penguin, 2006), recently became a major motion picture (A United Kingdom). Who Killed Hammarskjöld? (2011) triggered a fresh UN inquiry into the death of the secretary general. She is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London.

     

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  • ‘Eat the Heart of the Infidel’

    Andrew Walker

    A deeply researched and gracefully written history of Boko Haram’s cultural and religious hinterland in northern Nigeria

    Boko Haram’s appetite for violence and kidnapping women has thrust them to the top of the global news agenda. In a few years, they have all but severed parts of Nigeria, Africa’s most populous state and largest economy, from the hands of the government. When they speak the world sees a grimacing ranting demagogue who taunts viewers claiming he will ‘eat the heart of the infidel’ and calling on Nigerians to reject their corrupt democracy and return to a ‘pure’ form of Islam. Thousands have been slaughtered in their campaign of purification which has evolved through a bloody civil war. Civilians are trapped between the militants and the military and feel preyed upon by both.

    Boko Haram did not emerge fully formed. In Northern Nigeria — which has witnessed many caliphates in the past — radical ideas flourish and strange sects are common. For decades Nigeria’s politicians and oligarchs fed on the resources of a state buoyed by oil and turned public institutions into spoons for the pot. When the going was good it didn’t matter. Now a new ravenous force threatens Nigeria.

    Author

    Andrew Walker has been writing about Nigeria since 2006. He worked in Abuja for The Daily Trust and reported from there for the BBC.

    Table of Contents

    Preface: The Strange Tale of John Henry Dorogu

    Part 1

    If you Can’t Beat them, Shun Them
    Disputed Territory
    Modes of Dealing

    Part 2

    Heart Rot
    Big Potato on Top
    Stomach Infrastructure
    Eating the Cords of Society

    Part 3

    The Rest of Us Are Just Hawking Peanuts
    Kill Zones
    Strange Cartography
    Off With the Rat’s Head

    Acknowledgements
    Bibliography
    Index

    Reviews

    ‘Walker’s book is anecdotal, well researched and engaging. He has a novelist’s eye for story and situation. But the most important thing is that he knows Nigeria well, having lived there for about a decade … there is no denying the author’s mastery of his subject and the usefulness of this overview to anyone interested in Nigerian history and the role of religion in Nigerian politics.’ — The Guardian

    ‘A fascinating and disturbing read. ‘Eat the Heart of the Infidel’ is vital for anyone interested in understanding the origins of Boko Haram.’ — Jon Lee Anderson, New Yorker staff writer, and author of Guerrillas: Journeys in the Insurgent World

    ‘a major addition to existing literature on Boko Haram … The book is a reader’s delight. The journalistic background of the author gives life to the book and enthrals in many ways. It provides a dispassionate analysis of Nigeria’s history, particularly of the north, and the prevailing structural and societal imbalances that gave rise to Boko Haram … dutifully analysed and beautifully written.’ — LSE Review of Books

    ‘Boko Haram have often appeared as nothing more than a Nigerian offshoot of Al Qaeda. Andrew Walker’s wide-ranging, solidly-researched and grippingly-told story shows a more complex and troubling picture of a group whose historical precedents go back centuries, and whose recent rise owes as much to local social injustice, political instability and local rivalries as to religious fanaticism. The conflict as Walker presents it is over nothing less than Nigeria’s identity.’ — Anthony Sattin, author of The Gates of Africa

    ‘Global responses to modern day terrorism have been marked by a crisis of imagination and an inability to look back in search of the solutions that would enable us to move forward. Andrew Walker’s book provides us with a rare insight into the historical and cultural factors that drive insurgencies, a veritable road map into this complex world.’ — Dr Fatima Akilu, expert on countering violent extremism and Director, Neem Institute

    ‘In a sea of shabby work on Boko Haram, from the excessively sensational to the simplistic, Andrew Walker’s stands out by going many extra miles, reaching the heart of several matters either unexplored or inadequately dealt with by most previous commentators. Whatever one makes of the connections he teases out between contemporary events and historical figures in northern Nigeria, one thing is evident: ‘Eat the Heart of the Infidel’ is well-researched, deeply contemplated, and beautifully written.’ — Elnathan John, Nigerian novelist, satirist and writer

    Paperback / February 2016 / 9781849045582 / 264pp

     

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