What happens after you click Tweet? The heart-stopping definitive account of the mission to rescue hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls whose abduction ignited a global social media campaign and a dramatic worldwide intervention.
In the spring of 2014, millions of Twitter users, including some of the world’s most famous people, unwittingly helped turn a group of 276 schoolgirls abducted by a little-known Islamist sect into a central prize in the global War on Terror by retweeting a call for their release: #BringBackOurGirls. With just four words, their tweets launched an army of would-be liberators. Soldiers and drones, spies, mercenaries, and glory hunters descended into an obscure conflict that few understood, in a remote part of Nigeria that had barely begun to use the internet.
When hostage talks and military intervention failed, the schoolgirls were forced to take survival into their own hands. As their days in captivity dragged into years, the young women learned to withstand hunger, disease, and torment, and became witnesses and victims of unspeakable brutality. Many of the girls were Christians who refused to take the one path offered them—converting to their captors' fundamentalist creed. In secret, they sang hymns, and kept a diary, relying on their faith and friendships to stay alive.
Bring Back Our Girls unfolds across four continents, from the remote forests of northern Nigeria to the White House; from clandestine meetings in Khartoum safe houses to century-old luxury hotels on picturesque lakes in the Swiss Alps. A twenty-first century story that plumbs the promise and peril of an era whose politics are fueled by the power of hashtag advocacy, this urgent and engrossing work of investigative journalism reveals the unpredictable interconnectedness of our butterfly-wings world, where a few days of online activism can bring years of offline consequences for people continents away.
Wall Street Journal correspondents Parkinson and Hinshaw debut with a riveting chronicle of the 2014 kidnapping of a group of Nigerian schoolgirls by the terrorist group Boko Haram. Drawing on extensive interviews with several of the girls, the authors describe how the Islamic jihadists descended on the girls' school in northeastern Nigeria in order to steal a brick-making machine, and ended up taking 276 of them as hostages and holding most of them for more than three years. Over 100 are still missing, and the ones who escaped or were released tell harrowing stories of starvation, beatings, and forced marriages. Parkinson and Hinshaw sketch the history of Boko Haram and its leader, Abubakar Shekau, a former child beggar; detail the complex diplomatic maneuvers to secure the release of some of the girls; and describe how the 2014 #BringBackOurGirls Twitter campaign, which was amplified by Mary J. Blige and Michelle Obama, brought the girls' plight to the world's attention and led to a large ransom being paid to the terrorist group. Written with compassion and insight, this deeply investigated account brings renewed attention to an ongoing tragedy.