Browse all Reviews
The title of A History of Borno, Trans-Saharan African Empire to Failing Nigerian State has two ambiguities. Situated in the Sahel, Borno did not span the Sahara. It was Trans-Saharan by being linked culturally and economically to the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, rather than to the Atlantic. Whether the failing state is Nigeria or Borno is also unclear.
Many years ago, J. H. Overton drew a fine line between Non-Jurors on the one hand and Jacobites on the other. The former, according to Overton, were ‘in no active sense of the term Jacobites’ because they were ‘content to live peacefully and quietly without a thought of disturbing the present government’.
At the heart of this book is a surprisingly straightforward methodology: an examination of responses given by witnesses in church court cases to two questions designed to probe their reliability: what were they 'worth'? (that is, the value of their moveable goods with all their debts paid); and how did they maintain themselves?
For the majority of ordinary people in early modern England, the moral and the economic were closely aligned. Alongside material changes and a growing market ideology, traditional ideas about religion, duty, and community continued to influence economic relationships and practices well into the 18th century.
It is a rare thing for a reviewer to read a book which on its own terms, in its content and argument, leaves nothing open to serious criticism. Professor Diarmaid Ferriter’s Ambiguous Republic: Ireland in the 1970s is one such book.