In This Review

Nigeria, Africa, And The United States: From Kennedy To Reagan
Nigeria, Africa, And The United States: From Kennedy To Reagan
By Robert B. Shepard
Indiana University Press, 1991, 208 pp

This book traces U.S.-Nigerian relations over six American administrations, situating the relationship within the context of U.S. policy toward other regions of the continent, particularly southern Africa, where Nigeria has sometimes claimed to have interests of its own at stake. Although little new information is marshalled regarding American policies in Africa, the lesser known Nigerian side of the relationship is presented in illuminating detail. Policy positions taken by Lagos are shown to reflect not only economic uncertainties but also Nigeria's volatile domestic politics, the personal styles of particular Nigerian leaders and the political self-image Nigeria has assumed as Africa's most populous and collectively egotistical nation. The author believes that America's erratic relationship with Nigeria holds lessons for policymakers who until recently have focused too narrowly on crisis intervention or routine maneuvers to block Soviet expansion in Africa. Sidestepping consideration of whether the "Third World" is itself still an appropriate category for policy formulation, he suggests that American diplomacy should be driven less by broad doctrines and more by flexible and well-informed assessments of "the peculiarities and particulars of specific Third World states."