The African Wars (Hardback)
Warriors and Soldiers of the Colonial Campaigns
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In The African Wars Chris Peers provides a graphic account of several of the key campaigns fought between European powers and the native peoples of tropical and sub-tropical Africa in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. His pioneering and authoritative study describes in vivid detail the organization and training of African warriors, their weapons, their fighting methods and traditions, and their tactics. He concentrates on the campaigns mounted by the most successful African armies as they struggled to defend themselves against the European scramble for Africa. Resistance was inconsistent, but some warlike peoples fought long and hard - the Zulu victory over the British at Isandhlwana is the best known but by no means the only occasion when the Africans humiliated the colonial invaders.
Chris Peers is a leading expert on the history of the armies of nineteenth-century Africa and has written widely on the subject. He has also compiled a series of books on the armies of China. He has contributed many articles to military history, wargaming and family history magazines, and his major publications include Warlords of China, 700BC-AD1662, Warrior Peoples of East Africa and Soldiers of the Dragon.
The African Wars an important read for anyone interested in colonial warfare.New York Military Affairs Symposium
Chris Peers' approach is a wide-ranging study of warfare in sub-Sahara Africa in the 19th century. He deals with the impact of Western firearms and the response of the various civilisations, some very warlike like the Zulus, others more vulnerable to modern methods of war. Anyone interested in the 'scramble for Africa' will find his book a fascinating read.Military Illustrated March 2011
While Africa is often anecdotally referred to as the "dark continent" on a host of issues, in one sense perhaps, the term has resonance. The military history history of the continent has indeed been, and in many ways, continues to be, cloaked in "darkness", neglect and ignorance. That is why this reviewer for one, is happy to see that Chris Peers has again chosen to shine his considerable expertise on what is many, even on the continent itself, an arcane subject - the warriors and soldiers of both sides of the colonial campaigns.African Armed Forces Journal
Peers, a leading expert on 19th century African armies, first came up to public attention on the subject when he published Armies of the Nineteenth Century: East Africa. The book has susequently become much sought after and commands a high price if and when available.
Osprey's devotion to publishing pithy, well-illustrated volumes on lesser known military subjects is well recognised and in this particular case, serves as an excellent companion volume to the book under review.
The African Wars: Warriors and Soldiers of the Colonial Campaigns is a concise, single-volume account that should grace the bookshelf of anybody interested in the subject. Particularly noteworthy is that Peers avoids focussing on the traditionally well known military encounters in Sub-Saharan Africa such as Isandlawana and Rorke's Drift (although both are covered) and sets his sights instead on the lesser known clashes of equal or greater military significance to the continent.
The story of the colonial wars in Africa is normally told from the European point of view, perhaps inevitably given the relatively limited sources available to present the African point of view. This book provides the other side of the picture, looking at a series of African societies and the armies that they produced, using the available sources to examine the social structure of each society, the impact that had on their military capabilities and the weapons, strategies and tactics they used. Peers then moves on to examine each of these society's military encounters, both against European and other African opponents.historyofwar.org website, December 2010
This book concentrates on those African societies that came up against the British, the Germans and the armies of the independent colony in the Congo run for the King of Belgium. The book covers much of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century, with something of a focus on the later parts of the nineteenth century, the period of the 'scramble for Africa'. This saw the colonial powers attempt to expand their power into remote areas, bringing them into contact with an increasingly wide variety of peoples.
This is a valuable contribution to the military history of Africa, bringing together in one volume a series of very readable accounts of the most successful African armies, examining how they fought, how they achieved their successes, and in most cases how they were eventually defeated.
In The African Wars, Chris Peers explores conflict between the European powers and native forces throughout the 19th and early 20th century from the African perspective. Drawing upon the more successful efforts by native forces to defend against European imperialism, Peers creates an enthralling account of the desperate struggle of the forces of tropical and sub-tropical Africa against enemies whose technological superiority grew with every passing year, and the means and tactics they adopted to overcome them. Peers also explores the warrior cultures of many of the African peoples, and how this characterised the conflicts, both successful and disastrous, between the native and European forces. This African perspective, and exploration of the conflicting mentalities of the native and European forces, provides refreshing insight into the campaigns that marked the scramble for Africa.T. Kiernan