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The winner will be chosen at random and announced on Friday 8th February 2013.
At any given time there are at least half a dozen conflicts taking place in Africa – ranging from civil strife and brutal insurgencies to full-blown conventional wars.
And yet, apart from the grand campaigns and battles of colonial yesteryear – Omdurman, Isandlwana, Spioenkopl – little is known outside the Dark Continent of the plethora of brushfire wars that occur with monotonous regularity… until now.
The groundbreaking ‘Africa@War’ series, co-published by Helion & Company and 30 Degrees South, studies Africa’s post-1945 conflicts and military players in an informative and entertaining manner – examining lesser-known campaigns and shedding new light on some of the better-known operations.
‘Africa@War Series 1: Operation Dingo – Rhodesian Raid On Chimoio And Tembué 1977’ by Dr J.R.T. Wood £16.95
Wood describes ‘Fireforce’ – as a military concept – being a vertical envelopment of the enemy (first practised by SAS paratroopers in Mozambique in 1973) with the 20mm cannon being the principal weapon of attack, mounted in an Alouette III K-Car (‘Killer Car’) and flown by the Air Force Commander.
Startling in its innovation and daringly suicidal, Operation Dingo was not only the Fireforce concept writ large, but also the prototype for all the major Rhodesian airborne attacks on the external bases of Rhodesian African nationalist insurgents in the neighbouring territories of Mozambique and Zambia until such operations ceased in late 1979.
Baxter’s book explores the early colonial and post-colonial history of French Equatorial Africa – with particular emphasis on the Central African Republic’s role in the Second World War and the Free French Movement.
A key figure to emerge – and a man who would shape the modern destiny of the Central African Republic – was Jean-Bédel Bokassa, who served alongside the Free French under General Charles de Gaulle and later in the metropolitan French military as an NCO in Indochina. The narrative traces his ascent from these humble beginnings to his position as one of the region’s most notorious dictators.
‘Africa@War Series 3: Battle For Cassinga – South Africa’s Controversial Cross-Border Raid, Angola 1978’ by Mike McWilliams £16.95
The battle – although a resounding success – suffered setbacks which could have proved disastrous to the South Africans had they not maintained the initiative. For example, the improvisations made by Colonel Jan Breytenbach ensured that a flawed jump and inadequate intelligence did not adversely affect the outcome. McWilliams examines how a fierce rearguard action – together with the almost suicidal actions of the South African Air Force pilots – ultimately saved the day…
‘Africa@War Series 4: Selous Scouts – Rhodesian Counter-Insurgency Specialists’ by Peter Baxter £16.95
Formed in 1973 by Lieutenant-Colonel Ron Reid-Daly – at the behest of Rhodesian military supremo General Peter Walls – the Selous Scouts were to write their name into the annals of military history as one of the finest counter-insurgency units of all time through their innovative pseudo-guerrilla tactics; brilliant reconnaissance operations into Zambia and Botswana and daring flying-column raids into Mozambique.
Baxter chronicles how the feared and hated Scouts wreaked havoc and destruction on their Soviet- and Chinese-backed enemies – accounting for 68 per cent of guerrilla casualties within Rhodesia alone during the Bush War of the 1970s.
‘Africa@War Series 5: Zambezi Valley Insurgency. Early Rhodesian Bush War Operations’ by Dr J.R.T. Wood £16.95
In 72 pages Wood masterfully describes and examines the first phase of the ‘Bush War’ during which the Rhodesian forces honed their individual and joint skills – emerging as a formidable albeit lean fighting force.
In their quest for power the Rhodesians foresaw that the northeastern frontier with Mozambique would be the most vulnerable to incursions because the African population living along it offered an immediate target for succour and subversion. This foresight resulted in Rhodesian security forces conducting a number of successful operations in the period 1966-1972, which dented insurgent ambitions and boosted the forces’ presence.
Post-independence events in the Republic of the Congo are a veritable Gordian knot.
The ambitions of Congolese political leaders; Cold War rivalry; Pan- Africanism; Belgium’s continued economic interests in the country’s mineral wealth and the strategic perceptions of other southern African states all conspired to wrack Africa’s second largest country with uprisings, rebellions and military interventions for almost a decade.
Hudson’s highly informative ‘Congo Unravelled’ solves the intractable complexity of this violent period by systematically outlining the sequence of political and military events that took place in this troubled country to stabilise it following its independence.
‘Africa@War Series 7: Mau Mau. The Kenyan Emergency 1952-60’ by Peter Baxter £14.95
Baxter’s fascinating book journeys through the birth of British East Africa as a settled territory of the Empire and the inevitable politics of confrontation that emerged from the unequal distribution of resources and power.
It covers the emergence and growth of Mau Mau and the strategies applied by the British to confront and nullify what was in reality a tactically inexpert, but nonetheless powerfully symbolic black expression of political violence. Although the revolt was suppressed and peace restored, Baxter explores that Mau Mau set the tone for eventual Kenyan independence, which somewhat blurs the clean line of victory and defeat.
‘Africa@War Series 8: SAAF’S Border War. The South African Air Force In Combat 1966-89’ by Peter Baxter £16.95
In this impressively detailed account Baxter dutifully succeeds in bringing to life the squadrons and aviators that fought in both counter-insurgency and conventional warfare roles.
As well as covering major operations such as Blouwildebees and Merlyn – alongside methodological operations like Lunar and Butterfly – the book also boasts an extensive selection of rare photographs; a comprehensive section on camouflage and markings and 11 pages of colour aircraft profiles and insignia by noted SAAF authority William Marshall.
Praise for ‘Africa@War’
“Africa@War is a ground-breaking series concept, studying Africa’s conflicts and military players in an informative and entertaining manner, examining some of the lesser-known campaigns and shedding new light on some of the better-known operations … great models of what the combination of authors and publishers can produce by way of useable case studies for the market place in a concise illustrated format. They are recommended as professional military education references.” Charles D. Melson, Chief Historian, U.S. Marine Corps
“Each of the books in this series is a well-documented and researched synopsis of the events that they are focused upon. The layouts and presentation are logical and of a very high quality … As an introduction to this field of operation, this series is outstanding. A definite asset for those wishing to improve their knowledge and understanding of the development of successful, multi-faceted doctrine in the fight against insurgent/assymetric war.” Major Chris Buckham, Royal Canadian Air Force Journal