Academic journal article The International Journal of African Historical Studies

The Biafran War: The Struggle for Modern Nigeria

Academic journal article The International Journal of African Historical Studies

The Biafran War: The Struggle for Modern Nigeria

Article excerpt

The Biafran War: The Struggle for Modern Nigeria. By Michael Gould. London and New York NY: I. B. Tauris, 2012. Pp. xviii, 258, maps, photographs, bibliography, appendices, index. £56 cloth, $25.00/£14.99 paper.

The most immediate contribution of this ambitious and incisive book is to distill into a single, accessible volume the sprawling history of the Nigeria-Biafra War (Nigerian Civil War). To date that history has been fragmented across dozens of memoirs, journalistic accounts, and narrowly focused monographs.

Following a forward by Frederick Forsyth, Gould begins his treatment of the war with the failure of Nigeria's First Republic and concludes the book with a thoughtful consideration of the war's legacy. Core chapters construct a narrative of the conflict based on interviews, archival documents, and published accounts that include John de St. Jorre's The Brothers War (Houghton Mifflin, 1972) and John Stremlau's The International Politics of the Nigerian Civil War (Princeton University Press, 1977). Many of the archival documents Gould draws on shine fresh light on the relationship between the United Kingdom and Nigeria, including the place of oil in the conflict, but the book's richest sections use interviews the author conducted between 2007 and 2009 with key Nigerian, Biafran, and British figures from the war years to add texture to events and illuminate issues that have proven difficult to address through written archival or journalistic sources. Gould's interview materials offer insights into topics ranging from the inner workings of Biafra's invasion of the Mid-Western Region to the Nigerian federal government's reliance on revenues from Lagos and the Western Region. The author also dedicates a chapter to assessing the respective roles in the conflict of presidents Yakubu Gowon and Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. …

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