By Professor Saine
A Political History of The Gambia, 1816-1994 by Arnold Hughes and David Perfect, Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 2006, Pp.530, $90.00 The first of its kind, A Political History of The Gambia is a well-written and richly documented volume that tells an important story about a tiny West African country whose viability as a nation at independence in 1965, was questionable.
The introduction is a clear articulation of the bookâ€™s objectives and its various sub-sections. It is both thematically and logically organized and each of the eleven chapters and their sub-sections flow well into each other to reveal an interesting and complex interplay of history, political actors and outcomes.
Consequently, the volume is a detailed account of The Gambiaâ€™s modern political history, from its establishment as a colony in the 1800s to the 1994 coup dâ€™etat that overthrew Sir Dawda Jawara, the countryâ€™s founding president. It brings together previously published information in academic journals, books and monographs and with additional rich and varied data, the authors were able to complement, sometimes modify and extend in refreshing detail their own and earlier conclusions of other scholars.
A Political History of The Gambia must be included among the most important books ever to be published on The Gambia. It is thorough in its analyses, historically accurate and coherently written. The bibliography is very comprehensive and includes almost everything ever written on the subject. These include academic journal and newspaper articles, colonial documents, etc. This book is indeed a treasure trove of sources of very high caliber, which has unquestionably pushed analyses of Gambian political history much further. Arnold Hughes and David Perfect must be commended for having written a coherent and readable book that has special appeal to laypersons and specialists alike.
It is also a book that will remain a lasting contribution to Gambian Studies, in particular, and African Studies, generally. It is a rare gift to a country, its people and generations to come by two British scholars whose combined years of research and interest on/ in The Gambia span over half a century. I strongly urge Gambians, friends of The Gambia and Africanists every where to purchase and carefully read this book. For more information on The Political History of The Gambia, visit http://www.urpress.com/ Professor Abdoulaye Saine Department of Political Science Miami University Oxford, OH 45056