Book Review

In Black and White By Donald McRae Reviewed By Adeyinka Makinde There are few biographies that opt to feature a parallel chronology of the lives of two people. Such are the demands placed on the author to deliver a meaningful enough summation on one character that the addition of a second seems at once a daunting, near impossible concept. In many ways such an undertaking will lack a central focus unless both protagonists are linked inextricably in their raison d'etre or their rivalry or other binding phenomena as were say Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin. Both of the subjects must…
Defeating Dictators, George Ayittey (New York: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2011) 282 pages Book Review by Ozodi Osuji Ayittey wants to fight and defeat tyranny in Africa and around the world. He described the various tyrannical (dictatorial, despotic or autocratic) rulers in the extant world and made a cogent argument as to why they should be defeated and replaced with a mix of Western type liberal democratic institutions and borrowings from indigenous societies. The book provided excellent descriptions of extant despotic rulers and their countries and pointed out that contrary to what folks may think that these despotic rulers are alien to African…
Sally H. Jacobs, The Other Barack (New York: Public Affairs Books, 2011) 300 Pages A book Review Plus by Ozodi Osuji Before I embark on this unusual sort of book review, let me take this opportunity to thank Sally H. Jacobs, a reporter for the Boston Globe, for writing this excellent book. She has done us a world of good. Sally, thank you. I particularly thank you for not engaging in analysis in your book; you, as a trained reporter, did your job well: you provided a straight-up report on the character called Barack Hussein Obama Senior; you did not…
Paul Steinhardt and Neil Turok, Endless Universe: Beyond the Big Bang (New York: Doubleday, 2007). (How did the universe begin and how would it end?) A Book Review by Ozodi Osuji Steinhardt (of Princeton University) and Turok’s (of Cambridge University) views on the origin and nature of the universe is fascinating. I, therefore, feel an urge to share with those who have not read them what they said. These two men, one an astrophysicist, the other a mathematical physicist, posit what they call a cyclic universe. I will devote a bit of time to explaining their hypothesis thus the book…
Healing Insanity: A Study of Igbo Medicine in Contemporary Nigeria By Patrick E. Iroegbu Healing Insanity: A Study of Igbo Medicine in Contemporary Nigeria is an original and in-depth study on endogenous medical system in an African society. It is craftly written; and provides a solid insight, through case studies and theory, into how insanity affects patients and the society. Particularly, it explores various collective representations and strategies regarding insanity and healing as it examines the healing institutions, healers, and ritual cults. The central question is, given the patterns of healing, how do the Igbo shape the incidence and symptoms…
Book Review: Time to Reclaim Nigeria, a book of essays by journalist and columnist, Chido Onumah By Prof. Harry Garuba* When I received the soft copy of the galleys of this book in the short interval between committee meetings, I was so captivated by the title that I immediately started reading and had to be reminded by phone that the second session had begun. The idea of reclaiming Nigeria struck a deep chord in me as I recalled the many incidents of tortured delay at airports as soon as I produce my passport. Or the moments of discomfort and dissimulation…
 Author: David Baronov. Publisher: Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2008. Pages 248 I just picked up this book The African Transformation of Western Medicine and the Dynamics of Global Cultural Exchange written by David Baronov (2008) with a view to doing some pleasure reading much like I commonly surf the internet. But this book turned out to be different to me. It held me up reading and thinking with the narratives until I finished it. I am just happy to have read the work and gained some deep critical and historical grounded insights from the ontological arguments. A book of 248…
The post-World War era of de-colonisation of African and Asian territories run by the European powers was a phenomenon filled with variant levels of political intrigue, social transformation, and inevitably bloodshed. The pre-war sentiments driving the various nationalist movements agitating for independence was given an added impetus by the diminishing capacities of the empires of France and Britain, both of which would yield to the demand by United States president Franklin D. Roosevelt that they break up their empires. The ‘Wind of Change’, to quote Harold MacMillan’s famous declaration of the early 1960s, would blow across both continents where a…
In a recent piece in NEXT ‘Making the Next 50 Count’ (http://bit.ly/bThmiw) I noted a seemingly conscious effort to erase parts of our national history by making it seem like they never happened, letting them fizzle out of memory. In that piece, I argued; for us to make the most of the next fifty years of Nigeria’s life as a nation, we must go back to our history and for once take seriously the lessons of the past. If we accept that the last fifty years of nationhood has been more or less wasted, then, we must make a conscious…
Wednesday, 23 November 2011 02:58

Mr. Fox: Helen Oyeyemi

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A Writer of Slasher Books Finds More Than a Muse Review by Aimee Bender By Helen Oyeyemi 324 pp. Riverhead Books. $25.95. Helen Oyeyemi’s captivating new novel, “Mr. Fox,” begins with a jaunty spirit and a sense of play. We meet Mr. Fox; he is a writer of slasher books, and he has an assistant, a woman named Mary whom he conjured in a trench during his days fighting in World War I. He also has a wife, Daphne. At some point or other, all three of them write. Mr. Fox is also a reference to the English folk tale…
ONE RING CIRCUS: Dispatches from the World of Boxing by Katherine Dunn By Adeyinka Makinde The attraction of the sport of boxing to men and a good fewer women involved in the vocation of constructing words is well documented. Charles Dickens, Ernest Hemingway and Norman Mailer but to name a few had a great affinity to it and featured the game in their novels and in other writings. This attraction is not to o hard to fathom. For in boxing lies an aggregate of the dramas of life. From the politics of matchmaking to the rituals associated with the dressing…
Over four decades have passed since the curtain came down on Sugar Ray Robinson’s career. In many ways it was a conventional end to a fighting man’s career; a denouement that often is at once slow and painful as it is predictable. The irrevocable diminution of his athletic powers was mirrored by the steady regression of his earning power and both were reflected in the sorts of venues where his twilight bouts were staged. There was the penultimate engagement with one Rudolph Bent in the non-descript environs of Steubenville Ohio and before that a range of hotels, auditoriums and even…
Monday, 10 October 2011 07:43

The Making of a Genius: Book Review

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Martin Luther King Jr. once said that: ‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter’. I borrowed this wandering leaf in respect of Obodo Jude’s new book-that which I see as a master piece and an unputdownable with regards to the must read contents. The author has chosen to take the bull by the horn in order to express a heart cry to the world particularly to the Nigerian youth who is out there in search of the Golden Fleece in the wrong places. Hard work does not kill rather it strengthens and better…
Friday, 14 October 2011 02:17

Hedges, When Atheism Becomes Religion

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Chris Hedges, When Atheism Becomes Religion. (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2008) 212 pages A Book Review by Ozodi Thomas Osuji Mr. Chris Hedges: This weekend, I read your book: When Atheism Becomes Religion. As I understand it, you are making an argument to the effect that both religious fundamentalists (Islamic and Christian) and secular fundamentalists (such as Harris, Hitchens, Dennett and Dawkins) could be dangerous to civilization. You seem to say that though they come from different spheres, religion and science; they seem driven by the same impulse. They seem to be motivated by a belief that there is…
By Dr. Abayomi Ferreira Britain, the colonial power that created Nigeria and ruled the new country as one political entity for 46 years granted independence to Nigeria 47 years ago. Nigerian politics has remained trapped in the internecine in fighting that the pre-independence political parties ignited in 1950, some 57 years ago. Available and accessible natural resources have, in the period multiplied many times over since the British handed over power to Nigerian politicians. The population has multiplied more than four times over. But the quality of life continues to slide down the comparative international scale in spite of contemporary…
Over the weekend (April 23/24, 2011) I read Vincent Sarich et al, Race: The Reality of Human Differences (New York: Westview Press, 2004), 285 pages. Apparently, Vincent Sarich is a professor of physical anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. (Could a real professor write this racist track?) He contended that race is a biologically (genetically) determined phenomenon, and attempted to demonstrate this thesis by citing all sorts of silly evidence; the man satisfied himself that he made a cogent argument; he apparently believed that his trash talk succeeded in persuading his reader that he made his case. (Not only…
Viktor E. Frankl (1946). Man's Search for Meaning. (New York: Pocket Books). 221 Pages (Living meaningfully) : A Review In college I read Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning; indeed, I took courses that surveyed the various psychotherapies and his Logotherapy was one of those reviewed. Somehow, however, I put the book and the therapeutic method based on it out of my mind! Last week, I went to the local library and browsed through several book shelves and one of the books that caught my attention was Dr Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning. I recalled that I had read it…
A review of Chinua Achebe. The Education of a British Protected Child. New York: Knopf, 2009; 173 pages The education of a British Protected Child, Achebe's latest book, is a collection of essays written at different times in his long career. The first essay is the Education of a British Protected Child. This essay tells us a little bit about Achebe's birth at Ogidi in 1930. He mentioned his education at Ogidi's St Philip's Church Missionary School, CMS, without elaborating on it. We learn that after elementary school he had a choice to make between attending Dennis Memorial Grammar School…
Malcolm X. The name is forever redolent of an era of tumult and struggle of Americans of African descent seeking to obtain basic legal rights as well as to affirm a pride in their collective heritage. His name conjures images of a bespectacled, alternatively clean-shaven and later goateed orator extraordinaire whose incisive diatribes on the ills of America and its treatment of its black inhabitants brought to prominence a religious sect known as the Nation of Islam. He developed and perfected a rhythmically calibrated style of delivery which was clear and direct, and which he interspersed with a frequently coruscating…
Two things come to mind after reading Alex Von Tunzelmangripping tale of United States decades cum centuries-long foreign policy towards its neighbours in the Caribbean. First is the overly used truism attributed to the philosopher George Santayana that "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it", and secondly, the "Ugly American", a catchphrase derived from a 1950s-era novel penned jointly by Eugene Burdick and William J. Lederer. That the policies and actions of the United States of America should be consistently scrutinized and often-times be subjected to the most devastating sort of criticism is no surprise given…