Summary of Searching for Boko Haram

Looking for the book?
We have the summary! Get the key insights in just 10 minutes.

Searching for Boko Haram book summary


8 Overall

7 Importance

9 Innovation

8 Style


Anyone who casually follows international news is familiar with the harrowing story of terrorist group Boko Haram, which, in 2014, snatched 250 young women from their school in a Nigerian town. Most Westerners, however, don’t know the backstory of the lands where Boko Haram rose to power: the Lake Chad Basin. In this study, academic Scott MacEachern fills in these knowledge gaps. Long before Boko Haram grabbed headlines, MacEachern was studying the region as an archaeologist. He puts Boko Haram into historic and geographic context, explaining how the group’s tactics fit into the region’s centuries-long history of religious rivalry, violence and human trafficking. getAbstract recommends approaching this study expecting a cultural history, not a journalistic investigation of recent events. MacEachern doesn’t attempt to give a thorough accounting of Boko Haram’s atrocities. Instead, he focuses on explaining the conditions that led to the group’s rise and informed its strategies.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How Boko Haram fits into the larger historical and geographical context of the Lake Chad region,
  • How slavery, smuggling and banditry inform Boko Haram’s actions, and
  • How clashes with state security forces have affected Boko Haram.

About the Author

Scott MacEachern is a professor of anthropology at Bowdoin College. He has conducted research in Central Africa since 1984.



A History of Violence

Between 2009 and mid-2017, violence connected with the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram left nearly 18,000 people dead and forced millions from their homes. Despite these dramatic numbers, Boko Haram failed to gain international attention until the group kidnapped 250 female students from the Government Secondary School in the town of Chibok: a village situated in the mostly Christian state of Borno. Though its roots date back to the 1990s, the group’s modern identity emerged in the mid-2000s when a Kanuri preacher, Mohammed Yusuf, reorganized the Nigerian Taleban – inspired by Afghanistan’s Taliban – into Boko Haram.

Comment on this summary

More on this topic

Customers who read this summary also read

More by category