New Africa Book of the Day – 30 March 2015

Boko Haram: Inside Nigeria’s Unholy War, by Mike J. Smith

Release Date: March 30, 2015
Publisher: I.B. Tauris

An insurgency in Nigeria by the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram has left thousands dead, shaken Africa’s biggest nation and worried the world. Yet they remain a mysterious-almost unknowable-organization. Through extensive on-the-ground reporting, Smith takes readers inside the violence and provides the first in-depth account of the conflict. He traces Boko Haram from its beginnings in Nigeria’s remote northeast to its transformation into a hydra-headed monster, deploying suicide bombers and abducting schoolgirls. Much of the book is told from the perspective of Nigerians who have found themselves caught between the violence of insurgents, brutal security forces and an inept government. It includes the stories of a police officer left paralyzed, women whose husbands have been murdered and a sword-wielding vigilante using charms to fend off insurgent bullets. Smith questions whether there can be any end to the violence and the ways in which this might be achieved. Interspersed with Nigerian history, this book delves into the roots of the unholy war being waged against the backdrop of an evolving extremist threat worldwide.

American journalist Mike J. Smith is the former West Africa bureau chief for AFP. He is based in Nigeria and Paris.