I am letting readers tell the story of their “experience” with Soldiers of Fortune in their own words. Some readers have been kindly submitting reviews of their emotions and thoughts after reading the book. Here is the latest review, written kindly by reader Nnenna Muo:
Soldiers of Fortune, My Personal Journey, by Nnenna Muo
“This book is the story of Nigeria’s political journey between January 1, 1984 and August 27, 1993. This is the story of how things fell apart”
For most of us who were born after the defining military regimes of Major-General Mohammadu Buhari and Major-General Ibrahim Babangida, it could be a little sketchy separating facts from fiction, as everybody seems to be biased in their analysis of both regimes. So, we take what we can and try to imagine what it must have been like. Time and time again however, we fail. Simply because we cannot imagine that which we have no concrete idea of… And so, we yearn to have a truthful, unbiased, creditable account of what our joint history must have looked like. Well, we would have to look further, but, Soldiers of Fortune is a good place to start.
You can not fully understand the simplicity that draws one to this book, until you have done it justice by reading it. There is no grandiose attempt to sound overly scholastic. It is an easy read, gets its points across without being unnecessarily verbose.
“He Walks you like a friend to a logical conclusion”
With research and facts from about 125 publications covering books, articles and legislation (yes, I counted), I dare say Mazi Max Siollun was very thorough with his research. He presents facts from different sources, and walks you like a friend, to a logical conclusion of the gray areas in Nigeria’s government from 1983 – 1993.
There are little facts in the book however, that would make one realise on reading, that oral literature also plays a huge role in getting acquainted with history, and Mr Siollun does not overlook this aspect at all.
How else would he have known that Maryam Babangida held her 6 month old daughter in her hands while IBB’s living quarters was attacked in 1990? How else would he have known that we had a Mary Antoinette-esque “leader” in Dikko back in the days? These little seemingly unimportant facts helps one understand the quality of work one has on a platter.
This book simply exposes the nitty-gritty of the workings of governance in the time it covered, analyses these critically, fairly points out the failures and successes of those regimes and most importantly, piques your interest in Nigerian history. It just leaves in you a desire to start by reading all the books in the bibliography, to be very honest.
“You definitely can’t go wrong with SOF.”
Are you interested in the History of Nigeria? This is a good place to start right. Are you reading for pleasure? This is a good piece for your reading pleasure. Are you a curious mind? Just reading to gain some understanding? You definitely can’t go wrong with SOF.
The book comes packaged in a lovely shade of golden-yellow containing 3 newspaper clips of Babangida, Buhari and Abiola as its front cover. Its writing is very catchy as well, and its extensive use of dates cannot be faulted. It treats its topics profoundly and has very cohesive maps of the country. It comes with some picture spreads of the key players of the polity at the time, which is a very thoughtful addition (I must say).
In spite of the simple, factual approach to this work nonetheless, not all truths are pleasant, and one is bound to realise this. There was obviously no other way to paint some of the pictures this book presented on a lighter note. I found a few truths rather depressing but educational. This is what the book offers. No beautified, white-washed facts. What the country saw in those years is what you get. Really.
Sadly, being a very critical reader/eye myself, I discovered that the 336 paged book has a single editorial mistake which could easily have been overlooked (but I can’t) on page 150. I do hope future editions correct this dot of imperfection on an otherwise perfectly, deeply satisfying read.
Finally, if the aim of Soldiers of Fortune by Max Siollun was to fill the void that our renewed interest in history has created as it postulates, then I must say this is a very good job, and I look forward to reading more works from this author.