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Nigeria: A New History of a Turbulent Century


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Known as the African Giant, Nigeria’s story is complex and often contradictory. How, despite the ravages of colonialism, civil war, ongoing economic disappointment and most recently the Boko Haram insurgency, has the country managed to stay together for a hundred years? Why, despite an abundance of oil, mineral and agricultural wealth, have so many of its people remained in poverty? These are the key questions explored by Richard Bourne in this remarkable and wide-ranging account of Nigeria’s history, from its creation in 1914 to the historic 2015 elections and beyond.

Featuring a wealth of original research and interviews, this is an essential insight into the shaping of a country where, despite the seemingly dashed optimism that was raised at independence, there remains hope ‘the Nigeria project’ may still succeed.

Nigeria is a place of superlatives … Africa’s most populous nation and … the continent’s largest economy also has one of its worst corruption problems. The output of the Nollywood film industry is staggering, as is the number of children who die yearly from malaria … Bourne’s account … introduces readers to an array of characters who played critical roles in shaping the nation … [and] fills a gap for a one-stop history of the first century.

–Maggie Fick, Financial Times (West Africa correspondent)

… a work of immense research and knowledge, but also personal relationships and engagement by the author, which give it a personality and immediacy… I wholeheartedly recommend the book for anyone seeking to know more about the enigma that is Nigeria and the reasons for its survival, and for the optimism that many, including Richard Bourne, have that Nigeria’s second century could surprise the world…

–Keith Somerville, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, author of Africa’s Long Road Since Independence.

Any attempt at a history risks being grimly repetitive… So Richard Bourne is to be congratulated for avoiding such sameness in his ‘new history’. By focusing on the streams that have shaped the nation, he captures one that is multi-dimensional in its fault lines, tantalising in its possibilities, yet exasperating in its performance. If anything, Bourne is guilty of understatement when he calls Nigeria’s first hundred years ‘turbulent’.

–Tim Butcher, The Spectator

Richard Bourne has in this book, tackled the challenge with detailed research and admirable perspicacity. Recommended reading for all those interested in Nigerian history

–Emeka Anyaoku, Former Commonwealth Secretary-General

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