Archive for October, 2010

Around the World – Nigeria

The skyline of Lagos, Nigeria's largest city, at sunrise.

We continue our journey to different parts of the world with a trip to Nigeria. The country is located in the Western part of Africa, with land along the Atlantic Ocean. Since gaining its independence from the UK in 1960, Nigeria has lived through military rule and civilian rule, but its democratically elected government must now deal with increasing ethnic/religious strife. As the most populous country in Africa, the way it deals with these issues may have a profound impact on its neighbors.


Here are a few other interesting details about Nigeria:

  • Oil is the largest industry, and Nigeria is currently ranked 7th in international oil exports.
  • The current president is named Goodluck Jonathan. He has served since the previous president died in May 2010. New elections will take place in 2011.
  • Nigeria encapsulates tropical rainforests, coastal plains, highlands, savannah, and the semi-arid region of Sahel (in which the Sahara is beginning to encroach).



Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles by Richard Dowden

Ake: The Years of Childhood by Wole Soyinka

The Education of a British-Protected Child: Essays by Chinua Achebe

GraceLand by Christopher Abani

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda NgoziAdichie

I Do Not Come to You by Chance by Adaobi Nwaubani

The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi

Married to Africa: A Love Story by G. Pascal Zachary

Measuring Time: A Novel by Helon Habila

Oil on the Brain: Adventures from the Pump to the Pipeline by Lisa Margonelli

The Open Sore of a Continent: A Personal Narrative of the Nigerian Crisis by Wole Soyinka

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Treachery in the Yard: A Nigerian Thriller by Adimchinma Ibe

You Must Set Forth at Dawn: A Memoir by Wole Soyinka



BBC News Country Profile: Nigeria

CIA World Factbook: Nigeria

The Guardian (Nigerian newspaper)

Nigeria: Official Website

Wikipedia: Nigeria



October is a fabulous month (and I’m not biased, although it is my birthday month!). The sights and smells of autumn are in the air – and on the ground – and for some reason,  I find it a great time to get organized before all of the holiday craziness begins.  In case you are looking for something good to read to get into the mood of October, here are a few books with the month in their titles. Those with an * are highly recommended! (All annotations are courtesy of NoveList Plus.)


The Best Game Ever: Pirates vs. Yankees, October 13, 1960 by Jim Reisler

  • A recreation of the epic 1960 World Series finale respectively profiles the Pirates and Yankees teams; cites the contributions of such figures as Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, and Whitey Ford; and recounts the dramatic walk-off home run that decided the outcome of Game Seven.

The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy*

  • The Soviets’ new ballistic-missile submarine is attempting to defect to the United States, but the Soviet Atlantic fleet has been ordered to find and destroy her at all costs. Can Red October reach the U.S. safely?.

Mutiny: The True Events that Inspired The Hunt for Red October by David Hagberg

  • Describes the events that occured on a Soviet warship in 1975, where the crew mutinied against the captain to protest against corruption in the Soviet government.

October 1964 by David Halberstam

  • A study of a seminal season in the history of American baseball offers a close-up look at the 1964 clash between the Yankees, representing the status quo, and the St. Louis Cardinals, a tough, young team on the rise.

October Country by Ray Bradbury

  • The “Undiscovered Country” of the author’s imagination is revealed in a collection of stories that chronicles an underground city where drowned lovers are reunited, a carnival where a miniature man has his dreams fulfilled every night, and a glass jar that hold memories and nightmares.

October Dawn: A Novel Based on the Cuban Missile Crisis by James Walker

  • Tormented over choosing between his faith and his family, Johnny Pera is determined to unravel the truth behind the failed plot to kill Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, and he is haunted by the chance that his own father might have been involved.

October Dreams

  • Horror and Halloween themed fiction and non-fiction written by such authors as Dean Koontz, Christopher Golden, Ray Bradbury, Poppy Z. Brite, and Ed Gorman.

October Fury by Peter A. Huchthausen

  • The former Soviet naval analyst revisits the tense, terrifying thirteen days that constituted the Cuban Missle Crisis to recreate the near apocalyptic confrontation between nuclear superpowers.

October Horse: A Novel About Caesar and Cleopatra by Colleen McCullough

  • A novel of the final days of the Roman Republic explores the love affair between Julius Caesar and Cleopatra, the assassination of Caesar, and the struggle for power that leads to the rise of the Roman Empire.

October Light by John Gardner

  • Living in her older brother’s Vermont farmhouse, penniless widow Sally Abbot finds their clashing values escalating to the point that her brother banishes her to her room with a mainstream novel she has been reading, a book that becomes reflective of their turbulent family history.

October Sky: A Memoir by Homer Hickam*

  • The author traces the boyhood enthusiasm for rockets that eventually led to a career at NASA, describing how he built model rockets in the family garage in West Virginia, inspired by the launch of the Soviet satellite “Sputnik”.

October Song by Beverly Lewis

  • As Katie and Daniel adjust to marriage, Katie reaches out to her family for acceptance, Rachel’s husband Philip tries to fit in with his new Amish peers, and Levi continues his courtship of Lydia.

Queen of October by Shelley Fraser Mickle

  • In 1959, Sally Maulden, 13, goes to live with her grandparents in Coldwater, Arkansas, while her parents are considering a divorce, and she discovers an eccentric group with their own agendas.

Silence in October by Jens Christian Grendahl

  • Stunned when his wife of eighteen years leaves him with no explanation, an art historian struggles to make sense of his life and marriage and begins to realize that two people can live together for years without ever really knowing each other.

Three Weeks in October: The Manhunt for the Serial Sniper by Charles A. Moose

  • The Montgomery County police chief at the head of the manhunt for the serial snipers who shot random victims during a three-week period in Maryland and Virginia recounts the investigation that ultimately lead to the suspects’ capture.

Around the World – Turkey

Since September came and went without a visit to a new country, we’ll visit two in October. The first is Turkey – a country that straddles two continents.


The Bosphorus Bridge links the Asian and European parts of Istanbul.


Turkey, as a country, has  only existed politically since 1923, after the Ottoman Empire collapsed at the end of World War I. But the region, because of its strategic location, has a much longer history, going back to the city-state of Troy and beyond. Here are a few more interesting facts about the country:

  • The city of Byzantium, became New Rome, then Constantinople, then Istanbul. (And is the inspiration of the goofy song “Istanbul” – my favorite version is by They Might Be Giants).
  • Although the country’s religious make-up is almost 99% Islam, the country does not have an official state-recognized religion.
  • Turkey is one of the founding member of the United Nations and is a close ally to the U.S.



The Armenians in the Late Ottoman Period

Constantinople: City of the World’s Desire, 1453-1924 by Philip Mansel

Crescent and Star: Turkey Between Two Worlds by Stephen Kinzer

The Goddess and the Bull by Michael Balter

The Grand Turk: Sultan Mehmet II, Conqueror of Constantinople and Master of an Empire by John Freely

A Guide to Biblical Sites in Greece and Turkey by Clyde E. Fant

Hagia Sophia: A History of Constantinople by Patrick Balfour Kinross

The Lost and Found: The 9,000 Treasures of Troy: Heinrich Schliemann and the Gold that Got Away by Caroline Moorehead

The New Turkey: The Quiet Revolution on the Edge of Europe by Chris Morris

Osman’s Dream: The Story of the Ottoman Empire, 1300-1923 by Caroline Finkel

Paradise Lost: Smyrna 1922: The Destruction of a Christian City in the Islamic World by Giles Milton

Reset: Iran, Turkey, and America’s Future by Stephen Kinzer

A Traveller’s History of Turkey

The Turks Today by Andrew Mango


Or, check out a work of fiction by the noted Turkish author (and winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize for Literature), Orhan Pamuk.



BBC News Profile: Turkey

CIA World Factbook: Turkey

Go Turkey Travel & Tourism

History of Constantinople


Wikipedia: Turkey