Academic journal article African Studies Quarterly

Michael Gould. 2012. the Struggle for Modern Nigeria: The Biafran War 1967-1970

Academic journal article African Studies Quarterly

Michael Gould. 2012. the Struggle for Modern Nigeria: The Biafran War 1967-1970

Article excerpt

Michael Gould. 2012. The Struggle for Modern Nigeria: The Biafran War 1967-1970. London: I.B. Tauris. 258 pp.

The Story of the Nigerian Civil War from 1967-1970 has been revisited time and again from various perspectives. In The Biafran War, Gould uses archival information coupled with interviews and personal knowledge of key players in the war to clarify the events that led up to and prolonged the war. The first half of the book, Chapters 1-4, chronologically details events before and during the war. The second part of the book from Chapters 5-7 revisits the same narrative of the war topically, addressing the factors that contributed to the longevity of the war like the two leaders Gowon and Ojukwo's personalities. He also uses the opportunity to dispel popular myths about the war including clarifying the number of casualties and the international influences on the war. The result is a well-crafted historical account of a young Nigeria struggling to define its own future while burdened by colonial legacies.

The book demonstrates the role colonial legacies played in Nigeria's internal conflicts that caused the civil war. Chapter one details how Britain's indirect rule through the Northern region ignited tensions among Nigerians that would later cause the war. After the colonial era, afraid to lose power to other regions, especially people from the East whose higher levels of education had granted them senior positions in the North, Northerners began to attack Easterners who were residing in Northern territory. This attack on Easterners compounded by other issues spurred the Eastern Region or Biafra's choice to secede from the Nigerian Federation.

One of book's major contributions is its analysis of the international influences on the war. In chapter five, as Gould discusses factors that contributed to the longevity of the war he speaks to the role the international community played in the war. Gould provides in-depth explanation of the British government's strategy during the Biafran war. Though, they remained an avid supporter of the Nigerian Federation, the British also courted Biafra at times in an effort to protect their economic interests, mainly in Nigeria's growing oil industry. France and Russia sponsored the Eastern Region's accruement of arms in hopes of furthering their goals for partnership. Still, international media proved to be an equally powerful player in prolonging the war as it skewed mass opinions from one side to the other especially exaggerating the number of war casualties and the showcasing starving Biafran children, which caused a flood of support in the form of humanitarian aid. …

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