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On April 14, 2014, 276 girls from the Chibok Secondary School in northern Nigeria were kidnapped by Boko Haram, the world's deadliest terrorist group. Most were never heard from again. Acclaimed Nigerian novelist Helon Habila, who grew up in northern Nigeria, returned to Chibok and gained intimate access to the families of the kidnapped to offer a devastating account of th On April 14, 2014, 276 girls from the Chibok Secondary School in northern Nigeria were kidnapped by Boko Haram, the world's deadliest terrorist group. Most were never heard from again. Acclaimed Nigerian novelist Helon Habila, who grew up in northern Nigeria, returned to Chibok and gained intimate access to the families of the kidnapped to offer a devastating account of this tragedy that stunned the world. With compassion and deep understanding of historical context, Habila tells the stories of the girls and the anguish of their parents; chronicles the rise of Boko Haram and the Nigerian government's inept response; and captures the indifference of the media and the international community whose attention has moved on. Employing a fiction writer's sensibility and a journalist's curiosity, THE CHIBOK GIRLS provides poignant portraits of everyday Nigerians whose lives have been transformed by extremist forces. Habila illuminates the long history of colonialism--and unmasks cultural and religious dynamics--that gave rise to the conflicts that have ravaged the region to this day.


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On April 14, 2014, 276 girls from the Chibok Secondary School in northern Nigeria were kidnapped by Boko Haram, the world's deadliest terrorist group. Most were never heard from again. Acclaimed Nigerian novelist Helon Habila, who grew up in northern Nigeria, returned to Chibok and gained intimate access to the families of the kidnapped to offer a devastating account of th On April 14, 2014, 276 girls from the Chibok Secondary School in northern Nigeria were kidnapped by Boko Haram, the world's deadliest terrorist group. Most were never heard from again. Acclaimed Nigerian novelist Helon Habila, who grew up in northern Nigeria, returned to Chibok and gained intimate access to the families of the kidnapped to offer a devastating account of this tragedy that stunned the world. With compassion and deep understanding of historical context, Habila tells the stories of the girls and the anguish of their parents; chronicles the rise of Boko Haram and the Nigerian government's inept response; and captures the indifference of the media and the international community whose attention has moved on. Employing a fiction writer's sensibility and a journalist's curiosity, THE CHIBOK GIRLS provides poignant portraits of everyday Nigerians whose lives have been transformed by extremist forces. Habila illuminates the long history of colonialism--and unmasks cultural and religious dynamics--that gave rise to the conflicts that have ravaged the region to this day.

30 review for The Chibok Girls: The Boko Haram Kidnappings and Islamist Militancy in Nigeria

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nnedi

    This was exactly what I wanted. It gives background about the Chibok kidnappings and Boko Haram in a personal up-close way that only journalist writer Helon Habila can. I find almost all reports and news stories about the Chibok girls to be sterile and inconsistent, and the interviews with those involved seem to drip with fear. This is the first time I've really felt like I was getting some truth. Helon travelled to these places and met personally with people and he discusses his journey there a This was exactly what I wanted. It gives background about the Chibok kidnappings and Boko Haram in a personal up-close way that only journalist writer Helon Habila can. I find almost all reports and news stories about the Chibok girls to be sterile and inconsistent, and the interviews with those involved seem to drip with fear. This is the first time I've really felt like I was getting some truth. Helon travelled to these places and met personally with people and he discusses his journey there and back (which was just as interesting and eye-opening as what he learned about the kidnappings and Boko Haram). Excellent book, great resource.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Chibok is a poor and neglected town in Nigeria, where much of the population work in agriculture and life was fairly uneventful in this obscure corner of the country, until an event which brought it to the world’s notice. On the 14th April, 2014, members of Boko Haram kidnapped 276 schoolgirls. Less than fifty managed to jump off the vehicles which they were loaded into. Only one other girl has been rescued. The rest, tragically, are still missing. Author , Helon Habila, travelled to Chibok; a to Chibok is a poor and neglected town in Nigeria, where much of the population work in agriculture and life was fairly uneventful in this obscure corner of the country, until an event which brought it to the world’s notice. On the 14th April, 2014, members of Boko Haram kidnapped 276 schoolgirls. Less than fifty managed to jump off the vehicles which they were loaded into. Only one other girl has been rescued. The rest, tragically, are still missing. Author , Helon Habila, travelled to Chibok; a town in lockdown since the events of 2014. While telling the story of the terrible events in Chibok, he also explains the current political situation in Nigeria. The checkpoints, the roadblocks, the schools burnt down in local villages he passes through, the villages abandoned, the ethnic and religious divisions, intolerance and corruption are all shown without emotion and are the more shocking for the journalistic style. Boko Haram is the nickname for a group named Jama’atu Ahlis Surina Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad, or “the people committed to the propaganda of the Prophet’s teachings and Jihad,” which was founded by Mohammed Yusuf. With such a long name, they presumably needed a shortened version; Boko Haram, which means (loosely translated), “Western education is abhorrent.” Indeed, two months before the attack in Chibok, Boko Haram terrorists invaded the Federal Government College, killing fifty nine young boys. It was a chilling rehearsal for Chibok. Previously, the terrorists had been robbing banks; but as they were pushed back into the forest, kidnapping became an easier way to make money, as well as providing women to cook, clean and to act as ‘wives.’ One of their main aims is to stop education, especially that of girls. Habila explains the history behind the events and he also shows the impact that they have caused. Not only to the parents of the girls; many of whom have suffered physically, mentally and even died after the loss of their daughters, but also to the community and families. One of the most shocking parts of the book, though, comes when he interviews three of the girls themselves and they tell their story in such a straight-forward way. Even more shocking though, was (and is) the political inactivity after the girls were taken. In fact, one minister erupted when being interviewed on television, so incensed was he about being questioned about the missing girls. It seems almost impossible that such a terrible thing as young girls being taken by force, for no other reason than wanting an education, has simply been ignored by the government of the country that is meant to protect them. This is an extremely important read. It gives a good background to the political situation in Nigeria and explains, without emotive language, but in a very moving way, the events in Chibok. He also tells of those, such as the Education Must Continue Initiative, who are fighting against Boko Haram and who helped some of the girls who did escape that day. The people Habila interviews are so remarkably stoic that I have to say I was astounded, tearful and extremely angry at the end of this book. A very moving read, which I highly recommend. I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Trish

    Helon Habila trained as a journalist in Nigeria where he grew up. He is now a celebrated prize-winning novelist residing in Virginia, where he teaches. He’d read the stories of the April 2014 Boko Haram kidnappings of schoolgirls from Chibok and thought that perhaps there were some clues missing. How had this happened and why haven’t the girls been found? Searching for clues in country, it must be said, sounds terrifying and risky. Boko Haram as an organization has the madness of a wounded animal Helon Habila trained as a journalist in Nigeria where he grew up. He is now a celebrated prize-winning novelist residing in Virginia, where he teaches. He’d read the stories of the April 2014 Boko Haram kidnappings of schoolgirls from Chibok and thought that perhaps there were some clues missing. How had this happened and why haven’t the girls been found? Searching for clues in country, it must be said, sounds terrifying and risky. Boko Haram as an organization has the madness of a wounded animal and so is exceedingly dangerous. It is also profoundly anti-democratic and filled with a religious fervor Islamist scholars say has nothing to do with Islam. When the Boko Haram’s founding leader Yusef was killed by government security forces, the man who took over was even less stable and more brutal. Government forces under the presidency of Goodluck Jonathan, it turns out, did not put much credence in the veracity of kidnapping claims. Nigeria was to host the World Economic Forum the following month, and Goodluck Jonathan was convinced political opponents were trying to sabotage the event. None of which explains why the government wasn’t able to make a larger effort to find the girls after the forum. Goodluck Jonathan lost the presidency the following year, the first time in Nigeria’s history an incumbent lost to a challenger. His incompetency and corruption in office may have been a factor. The road Habila travelled to get to Chibok was pocked with exploded ordnance and littered with large shell casings. He was in a convoy with military trucks in front and at back, mounted with machine guns, with armed motorcycle outriders on the sides of his vehicle. They drove very fast and quiet, past abandoned villages whose buildings had been shattered with bullet holes or burned down. Rotting firewood was still stacked where it had been placed by farmers before everyone left. What he ultimately discovered is, as he describes it, shockingly banal: some of the kidnappers were often hostages of a sort themselves. Ordinary boys in dirty shirts and slippers, shooting at whatever they were told to shoot at. Some of the girls managed to escape, but their story is devoid of magnificent acts of heroism or valor. They ran away in the night. Habila’s investigation reminded us that ordinary people are capable of the most extraordinary cruelty and kindness. We just have to decide which it will be for ourselves. It requires attention, to make sure we do not stray into believing that we, as individuals, do not matter. Habila sees the roots for the development of Boko Haram in government mismanagement of the 1970’s, when oil money did not translate into a better life for more educated citizens, but in the “cornering” of state money and privilege for personal use. Small, innocuous opportunities to feather one’s own nest and look the other way opened the door to division, discontent, and hardline religious fervor which rejected secular leadership ("democracy is a challenge to God's sovereignty") and every other religion but the “one, true” religion. Nigeria may seem distant with its dirt roads, searing heat, and sand-filled Sahara winds but these folks have seen that transition from budding democracy to its charade. And these are lessons every nation can take to heart. Habila’s reporting centered on interviewing the girls who escaped, some of whom managed to be protected in the U.S. under the care of a concerned citizen. One managed to attend and finish high school and is anticipating college entrance, but most were ill-prepared for the U.S. education system. The Nigerian government then revoked the agreement the parents had with the benefactor in the U.S. and the government took over guardianship of the girls. The girls he interviewed who stayed in Nigeria have continued their educations, though not in Chibok, which remains almost a dead zone. The vibrancy of the area is almost completely gone, the area isolated and remote now that surrounding towns are deserted. It seems a small story, almost pathetic in its simplicity. We want to hear of success, not failure. We want to know more about the difficulties in finding the remaining girls and why, with even foreign help, the Nigerian military hasn’t been able to beat this seemingly discreet problem. But we will have to wait. That is a story for another time. This book is in pre-production and will be released in December 2016 by Columbia Global Reports. Thanks to CGR and Netgalley for an advance copy.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Tia

    Not what I expected. I will have to look to other resources for the information that I was seeking. The turmoil, despair and corruption are rampant and never ending. This book doesn't hold back. Politics and money have nothing to do with the welfare of humans. I'm left dejected at the close of 'The Chibok Girls'. I was given an eArc of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Toni Osborne

    The Boko Haram Kidnappings and Islamist Militancy in Nigeria On 15 April 2014, 267 girls from the Chibok Secondary School in Northern Nigeria were kidnapped by Boko Haram, Mr. Habila shares with us the personal stories of some of the girls who managed to free themselves. “The Chibok Girls” is poignant portraits of everyday Nigerians whose lives have been transformed by extremist forces. In his chronicle, Nigerian born poet and novelist Helon Habila has written with sensibility an eloquent account The Boko Haram Kidnappings and Islamist Militancy in Nigeria On 15 April 2014, 267 girls from the Chibok Secondary School in Northern Nigeria were kidnapped by Boko Haram, Mr. Habila shares with us the personal stories of some of the girls who managed to free themselves. “The Chibok Girls” is poignant portraits of everyday Nigerians whose lives have been transformed by extremist forces. In his chronicle, Nigerian born poet and novelist Helon Habila has written with sensibility an eloquent account and has illuminated us with the long history of colonialism and cultural and religious differences that eventually lead to conflicts that is ravaging the country. 128 pages of the most devastating experience to both Christians and Muslims: Boko Haram. It took Mr. Habila months of research, travelling in the northeast part of the country, interviewing many people, observing conditions in camps and talking to displace persons adding his experiences as a born Nigerian and interpreting the material in order to somehow be able to articulate to his satisfaction the fears and concerns of the victims of this insurgency and trying to personify the victims beyond mere statistic and transmit his thoughts to us in a simple and comprehensive manner. He did a fabulous job with this heartbreaking story. Even with its small size “The Chibok Girls” contains a wealth of information. I received an advance copy from Columbia Global Reports via “NetGalley” for an honest and unbiased review.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Clynes

    In 2014 276 schoolgirls were kidnapped in Nigeria by the terrorist group Boko Haram. In his short 128 page book, Nigerian born Helon Habila writes about the kidnappings plus Islamist militancy, politics, religion and the culture of life in northern Nigeria. I found this book quite a shock and it has the same awakening effect on me as an episode of Unreported World, a current affairs documentary series on Channel 4 television at home in the UK. http://www.channel4.com/programmes/un... Helon Habila In 2014 276 schoolgirls were kidnapped in Nigeria by the terrorist group Boko Haram. In his short 128 page book, Nigerian born Helon Habila writes about the kidnappings plus Islamist militancy, politics, religion and the culture of life in northern Nigeria. I found this book quite a shock and it has the same awakening effect on me as an episode of Unreported World, a current affairs documentary series on Channel 4 television at home in the UK. http://www.channel4.com/programmes/un... Helon Habila takes the reader on a journey that is far removed from normal life in the Western world. It is quite a shock to read about the daily struggles of ordinary people in northern Nigeria. Helon explains the background to the region with it’s many violent conflicts, corruption, political squabbles and religious differences. Although the title refers to the kidnapped schoolgirls, this short book is basically about the political and religious scene in northern Nigeria. I found this book very easy to follow and the issues involved very familiar. Although it is very sad what has happened over the years to the people of northern Nigeria, their experiences are not unique. Their political and religious struggles are mirrored across the whole of the Middle East and many parts of Asia. Helon’s writing style is very similar to that of Robert Fisk and this book reminded me of Pity the Nation - Robert Fisk’s classic recounting of the clashes in Lebanon. Helon lays the history squarely on the table, explains the culture and the political and religious problems within the society but leaves the reader to make their own mind up regarding the causes and who the bad guys truly are. I liked The Chibok Girls because it is a real story that was not widely covered by the Western media. It brought it home to me just how lucky people in the West are and how the same problems involving Muslims appear to repeat themselves, time and time again throughout Africa, the Middle East and Asia. I was pleased that Helon fully explained all the politics and religious issues involved. I found it informative and although the title is misleading, I got a lot from reading this short book. It was good to be able to learn about a foreign country from the comfort and safety of my sofa. There are many problems in this world and Helon enables us to understand it from the sidelines. I am pleased that Helon did an awful lot of research to give the reader the full picture and put the record into the public domain. He has made a great record and analysis of this period in Nigerian history and for this I think he deserves the top score of 5 stars. Well done mate for giving me a first class read with lots of politics and religion but no sex. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher Columbia Global Reports for giving me a copy of this book on the understanding that I provide an honest review.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Libscigrl

    Other than through the media, I did not know much about the story of the Boko Haram kidnapping of over 250 girls in Chibook, Nigeria. I had hopes that this book would help with some of the details, but was left wanting more...a LOT more. The author shares his own journey to Chibook, which is informative- the scary checkpoints, the kids carrying weapons and wearing fatigues, the bumpy truck rides. He finds a few people to interview that were present the night of the kidnapping, but doesn't go in t Other than through the media, I did not know much about the story of the Boko Haram kidnapping of over 250 girls in Chibook, Nigeria. I had hopes that this book would help with some of the details, but was left wanting more...a LOT more. The author shares his own journey to Chibook, which is informative- the scary checkpoints, the kids carrying weapons and wearing fatigues, the bumpy truck rides. He finds a few people to interview that were present the night of the kidnapping, but doesn't go in to detail- this is what a wanted. Instead, we get more or less a "I heard noise, I looked, the girls were gone" clip. He also finds a girl to interview, but even that didn't provide anything other than "i jumped off the truck and ran". The author spends more time talking about the politics that lead to the kidnapping, which are certainly interesting and informative. There is hardly any mention whatsoever of where the girls are now (either speculatively or truthfully) or what is being done to save them, or what Boko Haram is up to these days. Overall this book left me with more questions than I had to begin with. Thanks NetGalley for the free copy to review.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lanko

    Does a pretty good job explaining key facts about the fight of Nigeria against Boko Haram and how the country and its people are affected by it. Personal reports, interviews and links to other sources of material regarding the issue. Some reports are pretty bleak, like the father who lost his mind and wandered alone in the forest after his daughter. Received this book from NetGalley, so thanks to them too.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bella Brittan

    Essential reading

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tinea

    A few hours read, a few vignettes of a place and time: southern Borno State during the Boko Haram war. A bit of history and perspective on the war, the staccato attacks of Boko Haram and the long, lazy occupations of unpaid military and civilian vigilantes. One of the few written reminders of the diversity of Borno, the Christians and animists who don't practice Islam, for whom Kanuri and Hausa are foreign languages, who bristled at the state-imposed Sharia and felt its weight before Boko Haram A few hours read, a few vignettes of a place and time: southern Borno State during the Boko Haram war. A bit of history and perspective on the war, the staccato attacks of Boko Haram and the long, lazy occupations of unpaid military and civilian vigilantes. One of the few written reminders of the diversity of Borno, the Christians and animists who don't practice Islam, for whom Kanuri and Hausa are foreign languages, who bristled at the state-imposed Sharia and felt its weight before Boko Haram imposed their violent nihilist vision on everyone else. Habila is from Gombe and had perhaps better access to Chibok than many authors writing for an American audience (he talks to the reader at one point, grounding some Nigerian reality in American lived experience). This served him well as he created scene and mood, but didn't grant him some scoop or particular insight. At the end of the book Habila sums up the banality of the attack on Chibok and the arbitrary luck of escapee and enslaved. This idea of banality is so true in this conflict of hundreds of girls, so many more than just those at school in Chibok, used as disposable domestic slaves and weapons of war, strapped to bombs and pushed into crowds, of thousands of displaced civilians targeted over and over in their camps and mosques and markets by ineffective, poorly made bombs that kill through sheer numbers and perseverance not firepower, sheer numbers of cheap little girls strapped to bombs and pushed into crowds who the militants send out endlessly against the people from the places the militants control, to little military advantage but constant, cruel, numbing terror. why. how pointless. how banal is this conflict. Habila gets his interview with some Chibok girls, and they repeat the same story they've told over and over again to all media. Habila prints it and laments the banality of this story with the same defeatism he laments the banality of bribes at military checkpoints. It seems a disservice to have trekked so far to push these girls to repeat the same story, and then to rewrite it for this book, with no context on their treatment, their wellbeing, the movement to free them, and a throwaway line dismissing the heroism of their escapes-- confusing the present dullness from repetition of the story and perhaps ongoing or new traumas with banality in their heroic moments, erasing their agency and daring instead of seizing and centering it. The mass of untold stories in Nigeria's Northeast makes the horror of attack and capture and the courage of escape seem banal, and Habila's book kept it that way.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Aisha (thatothernigeriangirl)

    A brilliant and brave book! 4 stars (only because I didn’t like the occasional interjection of history lessons with the account) This is my first Habila and I can’t wait to read his fiction to determine which style I like best. This book contained historical lessons on the Boko Haram and it also highlights the discrimination faced by northern Christians in Nigeria, both from the Muslim indigenes (who treat them as second class citizens) and southerners (who ascribe the north to just “Hausa/Fulani” A brilliant and brave book! 4 stars (only because I didn’t like the occasional interjection of history lessons with the account) This is my first Habila and I can’t wait to read his fiction to determine which style I like best. This book contained historical lessons on the Boko Haram and it also highlights the discrimination faced by northern Christians in Nigeria, both from the Muslim indigenes (who treat them as second class citizens) and southerners (who ascribe the north to just “Hausa/Fulani” and Muslim thereby zeroing our their existence) More importantly, the book tells the tale of how ordinary school girls in town of Chibok came to be known as The Chibok Girls. I highly recommend this book.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Cindi Leiter

    This book was a disappointment. If you are a casual news connoisseur, only paying attention to the bullet points, then you already know everything in this book. The author really had to stretch descriptions of the country, give lessons on the laws and corruption in the country. A lot of information about the various Muslim factions.... but I already knew all this. I cannot stress enough how out of touch I am, yet I already knew all the information in the book. So, you already know.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    Short, quick overview of the rise of Boko Haram in Nigeria.... I thought it jumped around a bit but provided some background that was helpful to understand the political climate in the country.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Amie's Book Reviews

    I am torn as to how to review this book and what rating to give it. The reason for this is that the title; THE CHIBOK GIRLS is misleading. Why do I think it is misleading? Well, if you read the official description you are lead to believe that author Helon Habila has uncovered new information about the kidnapped girls and has maybe even met with some of them therefore providing readers with new information that no one else has been able to uncover. At least, that is what I believed when I began I am torn as to how to review this book and what rating to give it. The reason for this is that the title; THE CHIBOK GIRLS is misleading. Why do I think it is misleading? Well, if you read the official description you are lead to believe that author Helon Habila has uncovered new information about the kidnapped girls and has maybe even met with some of them therefore providing readers with new information that no one else has been able to uncover. At least, that is what I believed when I began reading this book. He does meet with some of the girls who escaped during the first days of the kidnappings, but these are the same girls whose stories have already been told. After reading the final page I realized that the only new information contained in this book regarding the kidnapped Chibok girls is not about the girls themselves, it is about their families. While I was very interested in the information about the families and how they are handling the knowledge (or lack thereof) of their daughter’s kidnapping, I was also extremely disappointed. I had hoped for more. I had hoped that some new information about the girls had come to light and that maybe there was finally some hope on the horizon for the kidnapped girls and their families. With that said, this book is exceptionally well written and the author does an outstanding job of describing just who and what Boko Haram is and where they came from. In fact, it is the best book I have ever read on the history of the Boko Haram Terrorist group. Helon Habila has written the history in such a way that readers understand how such a group could possibly gain the number of followers that it has. Readers will also learn the extent of the corruption in the Nigerian government and how and why Nigerian residents have become so completely disillusioned. These parts of the books are utterly fascinating. I feel that it must be said that I applaud the courageousness of the author to travel to such an unstable and extremely dangerous part of the world in an attempt to keep the story of the kidnapped girls from Chibok from disappearing into obscurity. The story of the author’s travels are also included in this book and readers will find themselves on the edge of their seats and biting their lips in fear and anticipation as the reader faces very real life-and-death situations on his quest for the truth. I rate this book as 4 out of 5 Stars and highly recommend it to anyone interested in finding out more about Boko Haram or about what life is currently like for those living in Nigeria. I hope that this book will keep the story of the Chibok girls in the media and maybe even led to some new information about where they may be located. * I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley To read more of my reviews visit my blog at http://AmiesBookReviews.wordpress.com

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ilana

    Do you remember the hashtag #bringbackourgirls? It made quite a storm on social media shortly after the 267 girls from the Chibok Secondary School in Nigeria were kidnapped by terrorists from the Boko Haram group in Nigeria. However, the time passed, the fate of the girls is still unknown, but the social media and the world in general got busy with more terror and kidnappings acts taking place all over the world. Helon Habila is going to his native Nigeria, to Chibok, revealing the fine or deep Do you remember the hashtag #bringbackourgirls? It made quite a storm on social media shortly after the 267 girls from the Chibok Secondary School in Nigeria were kidnapped by terrorists from the Boko Haram group in Nigeria. However, the time passed, the fate of the girls is still unknown, but the social media and the world in general got busy with more terror and kidnappings acts taking place all over the world. Helon Habila is going to his native Nigeria, to Chibok, revealing the fine or deep social and cultural divisions, and the everyday struggle for survival. He observes with the educated eye of the journalist and writers with the inspiration of the novelist, keeping perfectly the balance between a featured report and a work of fiction. It reminded me of his Oil on Water, a novel which I liked. The case of the Chibok girls could be a revelation about the entire situation in Nigeria and the tensions created by the raise of the Boko Haram, of whose expansion the authorities were aware without intervening to stop it. An interesting testimony about a case that deserve more attention and constant action for finding the kidnapped girls. Disclaimer: Book offered by the published in exchange for an honest review

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nickegreengrass

    Considering the author travelled to Chibok to research this book; and considering he talked to kidnapped girls and their families you'd think the final results would have produced something a little heartier. I learned nothing in reading this that an hour on WikiPedia wouldn't have taught me. Which is too bad. Because the author is really good and reading it nice. It just lacked substance. I just can't justify paying the jacket price of $18.95 to learn nothing of value about the missing girls that Considering the author travelled to Chibok to research this book; and considering he talked to kidnapped girls and their families you'd think the final results would have produced something a little heartier. I learned nothing in reading this that an hour on WikiPedia wouldn't have taught me. Which is too bad. Because the author is really good and reading it nice. It just lacked substance. I just can't justify paying the jacket price of $18.95 to learn nothing of value about the missing girls that I didn't already know...or couldn't have found with a simple google search. If you know nothing at all about the Girls of Chibok and Boko Haram and you're hell bent on reading a book about it then take this one out of the library. If you're looking for something mind bending then you'll just have to wait for somebody else to come along and write that book for you. Besides, there are documentaries on NetFlix and tons of free articles you can get online that tell you everything this book does.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rejoice Tapon

    Considering that the author traveled to Chibok Adamawa State to research this book in order to talk to the families of the kidnapped girls, you would think that he would have gotten a lot of interesting information. The final result should have produced something meatier. I learned nothing from reading this book that an hour on Wikipedia wouldn't have taught me. I used to study in GSS Madagali, which is about 146km away from Chibok. I know exactly where the school is I even have a couple of girlfr Considering that the author traveled to Chibok Adamawa State to research this book in order to talk to the families of the kidnapped girls, you would think that he would have gotten a lot of interesting information. The final result should have produced something meatier. I learned nothing from reading this book that an hour on Wikipedia wouldn't have taught me. I used to study in GSS Madagali, which is about 146km away from Chibok. I know exactly where the school is I even have a couple of girlfriends there. It's not as bad as he describes. I felt that I wasted my time reading this book. At least it was short.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I received a copy of this book free from the publisher via netgalley.com. A soul wrenching account of the disappearance of the Chibok girls, stolen from their school dorm. This book looks into the effect on the survivors, families affected and the community as well as the events that led to this tragedy.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Maura Muller

    Disappointing. As others have mentioned, I had high hopes for this book, but I was left feeling that I could have simply read a few past articles in the New York Times and learned more. This author risked his life to travel to such dangerous territory but returned with a book that doesn't seem worth his efforts.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Liliyana Shadowlyn

    A powerful look inside a horrible event, the aftermath, and what led up to it. Reading this feels like you are watching the gut-wrenching events unfold in front of you. It's information that the news never covered, and a story that needs to be told. Received for review

  21. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Kass

    Such an informational and emotional book. Check out my full review here: http://basicbookblog.com/the-chibok-g... Such an informational and emotional book. Check out my full review here: http://basicbookblog.com/the-chibok-g...

  22. 4 out of 5

    Liralen

    The Chibok Girls covers, in brief, the events of April 14, 2014, when nearly three hundred girls were kidnapped in Nigeria. The kidnapping spawned a 'bring back our girls' campaign, but as of late 2019 more than a hundred of the kidnapped girls are still missing—in some cases still captive, in others dead. Habila comes at the events as a reporter, digging into Nigeria's history to explain the rise of Boko Haram. It's a really useful background. That said, the title of the book is misleading: it's The Chibok Girls covers, in brief, the events of April 14, 2014, when nearly three hundred girls were kidnapped in Nigeria. The kidnapping spawned a 'bring back our girls' campaign, but as of late 2019 more than a hundred of the kidnapped girls are still missing—in some cases still captive, in others dead. Habila comes at the events as a reporter, digging into Nigeria's history to explain the rise of Boko Haram. It's a really useful background. That said, the title of the book is misleading: it's not about the girls. It's not even really about the kidnapping. At the very very end of the book, Habila talks about a chance he had to sit down with three of the kidnapped girls, who managed to escape the night of the kidnapping:There was really nothing new in their story. Except for the particular details, it was the same story I had read in the papers, the same story told by the girls in America in their various interviews. They woke up to sounds of gunfire, they were herded into trucks, and they jumped off and ran into the night. There was nothing more to tell. Surely, their interviewers must tell themselves, there had to be something more some individual act of valor, some unique observation? But there wasn't. The shocking banality of it.Hauwa, Ladi, and Juliana were ordinary girls, young enough to be my daughters, who had been raised to almost mythic status by their extraordinary experience. The same could even be said about many Boko Haram members, who were ordinary boys in dirty shirts and slippers, shooting at whatever they were told to shoot at by their handlers. ... Hauwa, Ladi, and Juliana were ordinary girls who had taken a leap of faith off that truck and into the night, and that had made the difference between them and those who were taken. Like most things in life, it all came down to chance, opportunity, and desperation. There was no single explanation. (109)And...gosh, my feelings are mixed. On the one hand, no, these three probably have no more story about the day of the kidnapping than they've already told. On the other hand, if a book is indeed meant to be about the girls in question...there are a lot more stories to tell. I knew nothing, going into the book, about the lives of the girls at the girls' secondary school in Chibok—their lives at school or their lives at home, their personalities, their families, anything like that. And...I know nothing more about their lives, having finished the book. I assume that Habila simply didn't have that kind of access—he talks about the hoops he had to jump through just to do the on-the-ground research he was able to do for this book. When he visited Chibok, the town was still under heavy guard and journalists weren't welcome. In some ways Habila was in a good position to write a book about Boko Haram and the Chibok kidnappings (having grown up in Nigeria, he was familiar with the area and the cultures, but he also had outside perspective and resources), but in other ways...perhaps someday one of the girls who escaped later will be in a position to write a book, or a journalist will tell the stories of the girls and their families and as much as can be known of what has become of them. In the meantime...this is useful, but mostly for background.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Anna M

    Acclaimed Nigerian author Helon Habila takes readers on a journey through a series of insights and recollections of a nation's traumatic event through his thoughtfully written story based on true actions of the past. His novel, The Chibok Girls: The Boko Haram Kidnappings and Islamist Militancy in Nigeria is written in “dedication to the 218 Chibok Girls still missing, and to all victims of the Boko Haram insurgency”. Habila grew up in Northern Nigeria later establishing himself as a journalist Acclaimed Nigerian author Helon Habila takes readers on a journey through a series of insights and recollections of a nation's traumatic event through his thoughtfully written story based on true actions of the past. His novel, The Chibok Girls: The Boko Haram Kidnappings and Islamist Militancy in Nigeria is written in “dedication to the 218 Chibok Girls still missing, and to all victims of the Boko Haram insurgency”. Habila grew up in Northern Nigeria later establishing himself as a journalist and author in the United States. Helon made his return to Nigeria following the April 14, 2014 Boko Haram kidnapping of 276 girls from the Chibok Secondary School. Driven by the lust for journalism and the heartache for his home nation, Helon returned to the turmoiled cities of Nigeria passing through several checkpoints and poverty stricken landmarks along the way. The story was well developed, and I felt well educated on the necessary background information of the attacks due to Helon's development describing the Islamic extremist group’s rise to power and other accounts of government corruption. The story is raw and emotional. Helon evokes the traumatic mood sprawling among Nigerian communities through his personal experience and observation in the settings. He is able to confront parents who lost their daughters to the kidnapping and vividly creates the picture of anguish stricken loved ones with nothing to do to save their daughters. Helon is also granted the opportunity to speak to kidnapped girls who escaped. The escaped girls stories along with missing child parents are noted as seeming repeated perhaps to other media outlets over the years. Personally, I believe that there are missing truths from the girls stories and the parents stories if they are being held back by media and the fear of exposing themselves; however, no one will truly know the pain of these victims. It is a horrible truth in the world which Habila raises the attention of, amounting to the #BringBackOurGirls campaign. Although I will never be able to feel a sliver of the devastation these victims have been horribly faced with, Habila exposes the importance of awareness and drive for attention surrounding the horrific event and other attacks by Boko Haram through primary sources and personal observation in the Nigerian community. The author develops a raise for awareness and the drive for change due to most media and most of the world losing attention and not caring about the significance of the event. I thought the 110 pages of facts and insights was very well written. I would 10/10 recommend this nonfiction story to anyone interested in the finding out more about the devastating event of April 14, 2014. .

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mara Hamm

    In 2014, 276 young girls were kidnapped from the Government Chibok Secondary School by the Boko Haram terrorist group. Only a few of the girls were able to escape at the scene, roughly 20 girls were freed, and the rest of them have not been seen from or heard of since they have been abducted. Helon Habila, the author of The Chibok Girls: The Boko Haram Kidnappings and Islamic Militancy in Nigeria, is a native Nigerian. He returned to his home country to investigate the kidnappings and interview p In 2014, 276 young girls were kidnapped from the Government Chibok Secondary School by the Boko Haram terrorist group. Only a few of the girls were able to escape at the scene, roughly 20 girls were freed, and the rest of them have not been seen from or heard of since they have been abducted. Helon Habila, the author of The Chibok Girls: The Boko Haram Kidnappings and Islamic Militancy in Nigeria, is a native Nigerian. He returned to his home country to investigate the kidnappings and interview parents and families of the kidnapped girls. He shares these encounters, using pathos to add a personal element. This had the novel off to a good start, but after about 30 pages, he turns to a more monotonous tone and gives background of the terrorist group. From this point on the book is almost purely informational with no exciting climax, which might push people away from reading it. Despite this, the information is engrossing, and because of this, I finished the book quickly. He talks little about any actions that have been done to help the remaining captives and what actions are being taken to combat the terrorist group, but the book is a good start to learning about the group in general. One of the aspects that I enjoyed about the novel was how Habila detailed the ultimate failure of the government and the dysfunction of society in this situation: “The people copy their rules, just as children ape their parents. Violence is a symptom of a dysfunctional system, where people have no patience for or confidence in due process. The poor don’t believe they can get justice from the courts, because usually they can’t; the elite know the system is rigged because they rigged it.” He perfectly highlights the underlying thing that everyone in these terrorist-ridden countries is afraid of: a militant group can and will take over how the country operates. Overall, I enjoyed the novel. It is based on a compelling topic, but I think that the author could’ve used a better story-telling technique, using more of what he found while on his return to Nigeria, rather than just providing mainly background on the terrorist group itself.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Temilade

    The 2014 abduction of 276 secondary school girls from the Government College, Chibok by the Boko Haram sect remains a sore subject for many Nigerians. It has inspired hundreds of articles, documentaries, music etc; sparked a political revolution, brought attention to lackadaisical attitude of our federal government and the corruption that is literally threatening to destroy us. The situation is made even more pathetic by the fact that the bulk of these children are yet to be found 2 years later. I The 2014 abduction of 276 secondary school girls from the Government College, Chibok by the Boko Haram sect remains a sore subject for many Nigerians. It has inspired hundreds of articles, documentaries, music etc; sparked a political revolution, brought attention to lackadaisical attitude of our federal government and the corruption that is literally threatening to destroy us. The situation is made even more pathetic by the fact that the bulk of these children are yet to be found 2 years later. In this book, Heleon Habila takes us with him on his trip to Chibok, we meet some of the parents of the abducted girls, get a feel of the state of affairs in this town before and since the abduction. They narrate events that tug at your heart strings and sound unbelievable, given that this is the country I live in. The writer takes us from these sad accounts straight into a brief account of Nigeria's bloody history. This, I think, is the most important part of this book, because nobody has ever presented Nigeria's history to me with such frankness. All I remember from school is a sterile account of power exchanging hands with no mention of the gallons of blood shed in the process. This transition is genius, as it takes you from sadness and grief to anger in just a few pages. The author also makes a case for how the political squabbles and self-centeredness of our leaders created a fertile environment for an organization like Boko Haram to thrive. This book is well written but it doesn't tell us anything we don't already know. What the author does so well however is humanise the families directly affected by Boko Haram's reign of terror. He writes about strong, willful people determined to survive in a system that seems to be working actively against them. I was provided with a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

    I found this brief title on my public library's "Did You Miss This?" shelf and it immediately took me back to April 2014 when I watched in horror as every news outlet in the nation replayed news of these school children being taken by Boko Haram. I had to pick it up and read it. I know very little of Nigeria, the continent of Africa, or even Boko Haram. I still don't know much. What I have gleaned from this small book tells me Boko Haram is a militant group that attacks mostly targets Christians I found this brief title on my public library's "Did You Miss This?" shelf and it immediately took me back to April 2014 when I watched in horror as every news outlet in the nation replayed news of these school children being taken by Boko Haram. I had to pick it up and read it. I know very little of Nigeria, the continent of Africa, or even Boko Haram. I still don't know much. What I have gleaned from this small book tells me Boko Haram is a militant group that attacks mostly targets Christians and does not want the girls of their region to be educated. It tells me the past government was corrupt and created a situation in which Nigeria, a country with the wealth and resources to be a jewel in Africa's crown, became a region that has been terrorized and kept in poverty and ignorance (no education) by a small group that does not desire "Western" influence in their lives. Many of the Chibok Girls are still missing. Their parents still grieve their loss. It is shameful that any group of people would kill and terrorize any other. It is more shameful that a group would do this to their own people. It is most shameful that there are parts of our country living with the same fears, in poverty, and denied the education that should be their birthright. A reminder to everyone that we are charged with caring for each other and that there are still people on this planet who can lose their whole lives, livelihood, and precious children at the random whim of violent oppressors.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Robby Horvath

    On the 14th of April, 2014, 276 schoolgirls were kidnapped by the world's deadliest terrorist organization, the Boko Haram. This is a great topic to build write a riveting story about, however, the author of The Chibok Girls: The Boko Haram Kidnappings and Islamist Militancy in Nigeria failed to bring emotion into a emotion filled topic. The author shied away from telling about the actually kidnappings, but more of the history behind it and what led up to it. Going into reading it, I was expect On the 14th of April, 2014, 276 schoolgirls were kidnapped by the world's deadliest terrorist organization, the Boko Haram. This is a great topic to build write a riveting story about, however, the author of The Chibok Girls: The Boko Haram Kidnappings and Islamist Militancy in Nigeria failed to bring emotion into a emotion filled topic. The author shied away from telling about the actually kidnappings, but more of the history behind it and what led up to it. Going into reading it, I was expecting a different outcome, which did make the book less enjoyable. The book was very factual, with a lot of information about the politics in Nigeria and other terror acts by Boko Haram. The most detailed information was about everything other than the kidnappings, which I found frustrating. However, the interviews with parents, and the escaped girls did add an interesting perspective on the situation and a very emotional testimony in a book of all facts. All the facts about the lead up to the kidnappings really sparked my interest on the the actual kidnapping situation, which the book lacked. The book gave a perfect background to the the kidnapping but failed to produce any story about the kidnapping itself. The book is basically a prequel to the actual story, but the author never wrote a actual mainline story to the kidnapping. Overall, the book was a introduction to the Boko Haram Kidnappings, but was not enough to learn all about it.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Chazzbot

    Written as a first-person journalistic essay, Habila provides an overview of the rise of Boko Haram and the circumstances of the schoolgirl kidnappings. Habila travels extensively through Nigeria, reporting on towns and villages that are both situated outside the influence of Boko Haram, and those that are regularly threatened by its tactics. It should be noted that Habila is not attempting to "solve" the fate of the schoolgirls (though he does tell the story of a few who managed to escape) or p Written as a first-person journalistic essay, Habila provides an overview of the rise of Boko Haram and the circumstances of the schoolgirl kidnappings. Habila travels extensively through Nigeria, reporting on towns and villages that are both situated outside the influence of Boko Haram, and those that are regularly threatened by its tactics. It should be noted that Habila is not attempting to "solve" the fate of the schoolgirls (though he does tell the story of a few who managed to escape) or provide a comprehensive history of Islamist militancy in Nigeria (the title is somewhat misleading in that regard). However, this is an engaging, informative account. It reminded me a lot of a National Geographic article (minus the photographs). The book is part of a relatively new series, Columbia Global Reports, which offers relatively short monographs on current topics. The idea of the series should be applauded, and after finishing this edition, I began looking for others in the series. More in depth than most internet articles, but still easily read in a short amount of time for those who want to stay informed, but can't make a commitment to a longer, fuller account.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Gsmyles

    Very fast read about Nigeria. Learn about the history of political system in brief and the divide between Muslims and Christians. Feel how it must have been to travel or live around the North where Boko Haram (a terrorist group) operates and learn about the kidnapping of over 200 girls from a government school in Chibok. About 50 escaped while being kidnapped but it is unclear to me if the school was involved with the atrocity (suggested but not proven), and since there are few girls that have b Very fast read about Nigeria. Learn about the history of political system in brief and the divide between Muslims and Christians. Feel how it must have been to travel or live around the North where Boko Haram (a terrorist group) operates and learn about the kidnapping of over 200 girls from a government school in Chibok. About 50 escaped while being kidnapped but it is unclear to me if the school was involved with the atrocity (suggested but not proven), and since there are few girls that have been rescued since being forced into slavery and likely marriages with Boko Haram members, there is not much to report even years after the incident. A true tragedy and not sure why the town of Chibok even has the military protecting or guarding it anymore-- seems futile. The efforts should have been put forth to bring the girls home.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kristian

    The adventures of an American professor of Nigerian heritage, as he attempts to investigate the disappearance of 276 girls from a secondary school in Nigeria. This book was most valuable as a toe dip into life in modern day Nigeria, a brief history lesson about the country and the factors that lead to the events of the kidnapping. I loved the additional detail of the towns of Northern Nigeria which enriched the narrative of the events. As soon as I finished, I wanted to read it again to insure I The adventures of an American professor of Nigerian heritage, as he attempts to investigate the disappearance of 276 girls from a secondary school in Nigeria. This book was most valuable as a toe dip into life in modern day Nigeria, a brief history lesson about the country and the factors that lead to the events of the kidnapping. I loved the additional detail of the towns of Northern Nigeria which enriched the narrative of the events. As soon as I finished, I wanted to read it again to insure I digested it correctly, and I was able to enjoy it even more and with a greater understanding of places and the people involved.

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