(OLDIE!) Review: “A History of Niger, 1850-1960” – Finn Fuglestad

(This is an OLDIE – an old review from years ago! My views and opinions might have changed since then.)

A better title for Finn Fuglestad’s “A History of Niger: 1850-1960” would be “Niger: The French Weren’t That Bad,” since the Fuglestad’s seems intent on whitewashing French colonialism in Africa.

An example of this pro-French bias is Fuglestad’s description of France’s relationship with Niger. Only “with the wisdom of hindsight,” Fuglestad writes, is it possible to recognize the “absurdity of a situation in which one of the world’s poorest people (the Nigeriens) was to provide one of the richest (the French) with all sorts of commodities at the lowest possible price,” since it was far less evident at the time! The French also genuinely, if mistakenly, believed that Nigeriens would willingly suffer and die for France.

If it wasn’t for the limited amount of material available on the history of Niger I’d recommend staying away from this book!

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