World War I: Book summary and reviews of World War I by Edward Paice

World War I

The African Front: An Imperial War on the Dark Continent

by Edward Paice

World War I by Edward Paice

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Book Summary

On August 7, 1914, Britain fired its first shots of World War I not in Europe but in the German colony of Togo. The campaign to eliminate the threat at sea posed by German naval bases in Africa would soon be won, but in the land war, especially in East Africa, British troops would meet far fiercer resistance from German colonial forces that had fully mastered the tactics of bush warfare. It was expected to be a "small war," over by Christmas, yet it would continue bloodily for more than four years, even beyond the signing of the Armistice in Europe.

Its costs were immense, its butchery staggering (in excess of100,000 British troops and 45,000 native recruits dead). Utmost among the tragic consequences, though, was the waste laid to the land and its indigenous peoples in what one official historian described as "a war of extermination and attrition without parallel in modern times." Imperialism had gone calamitously amok.

This eye-opening account of the Great War in East Africa does not flinch at the daily horrors of an ill-fated campaign—not just the combat but also a hostile climate, disease, the terrible loneliness—nor does it fail to recount tales of extraordinary courage and the kind of adventure that inspired fiction like C. S. Forester's The African Queen, William Boyd's An Ice-Cream War, and Wilbur Smith's Shout at the Devil. In all, it demonstrates dramatically why even the most hardened of Great War soldiers preferred the trenches of France to the trauma of East Africa.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Paice...has written what is by a significant margin the best book to date on the Great War in East Africa." - Publishers Weekly.

"The author does an excellent job of untangling tactical issues while not losing sight of the big picture. Highly recommended." - Library Journal

"An authoritative summing-up of a grim, complex and little-known part of World War I." - Kirkus Reviews.

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More Information

Edward Paice was a History Scholar at Cambridge and winner of the Leman prize. After a decade working in London, he spent four years living and writing in East Africa. Paice is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and was awarded a visiting Fellowship by Magadalene College, Cambridge in 2004. He lives in Kent.

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