Figures in a Spare Landscape
Serving in the Twilight of Empire,
Bornu Province, Nigeria, 1959–60
Peter Haring Judd
Fully illustrated with maps, documents, and photographs
taken by the author from the time period covered
ISBN 978-1-947980-86-0 b&w pbk. 266 pages $18.00
ISBN 978-1-947980-57-0 color pbk. $30.00
ISBN 978-1-947980-58-7 color hdc. $40.00
published by Ma'arri, an imprint of Spuyten Duyvil Publishing
“When news of the kidnappings and murders of the Boko Haram surfaced in the 2010s I found datelines from once familiar towns and villages. I looked through my old notebooks and photo slides. They recall places and peoples now long gone and must be shared in homage to who and what was. Here they are.”
Peter Judd is always a rewarding historian. His latest work, Figures in a Spare Landscape, benefits from the same strengths as his other works: historical modesty and a devotion to the close study of unconventional sources. In this case, Judd’s source is himself. Based on diaries kept while he was teaching in Bornu Province, Nigeria, the book understands its position very clearly.
Judd’s position in Nigeria was that of a white, upper-class, very well-educated American man who was teaching in Nigeria because he was interested and motivated by ideals, but also because he wasn’t sure what to do at “home.”
The moment was 1959-60, one year before Nigerian independence from British rule. In fact, one of Judd’s responsibilities was the organizing and teaching of election supervisors. It would have been easy to say that it was a historic year, the year of independence. It would, therefore, also have been easy for Judd to say that he was participating in something historic. However, one of the many strengths of Figures in a Spare Landscape is Judd’s ability to make the “greatness” of things disappear and give evidence of the way individuals are able, but also quite unable, to see or understand their position and opportunities.
Peter Haring Judd graduated from Harvard College AB cum laude in 1954; he served two years in the US Army as an enlisted man in Staff Communications at the Pentagon. In 1959-60 he served as Education Officer in the Northern Region of Nigeria, assigned to the Provincial Secondary School, Maiduguri. He earned a PhD from the Department of Political Science at Columbia University.
African Independence: the exploding emergence of the new African nations was a mass-market paperback that sold tens of thousands of copies. (New York: Dell Publishing Co, 1962).
The Hatch and Brood of Time: Five Phelps Families in the New World, 1730 1880 (Boston: the Newbury Street Press, 1999), received the year 2000 award for family history from the Connecticut Society of Genealogists and from the American Society of Genealogists, the Donald Lines Jacobus Award, the leading award in the field.
More Lasting than Brass: A Thread of Family from Revolutionary New York to Industrial Connecticut (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2004) received the Grand Prize in genealogy from the Connecticut Society.
Four American Ancestries: White, Griggs, Cowles, Judd… and related families (2006),(a three-volume account of the direct paternal and maternal ancestries of his four grandparents.
Affection: 90 Years of Family Letters, 1850s 1930s, Haring, White, Griggs Judd Families of New York and Waterbury Connecticut (2008), a two-volume compilation of family letters that received the Connecticut Society’s Literary Awards prize in family history.(A revised edition is planned for 2019), The Akeing Heart, Passionate Attachments and Their Aftermath: Sylvia Townsend Warner, Valentine Ackland and Elizabeth Wade White (2012). A revised edition was published in 2018 by Handheld Press, UK and is available worldwide from Amazon.
Figures in a Spare Landscape: serving in the twilight of empire, Nigeria 1959–60 (Ma’arri, New York (2018).