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The Battle of Adwa: African Victory in the…

The Battle of Adwa: African Victory in the Age of Empire

by Raymond Jonas

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Fascinating story of a war the West knows little about. In March 1896 the Ethopian army under Emperor Menelik routed an Italian army at Adwa, the first major victory of an African nation over a European power. It sent shockwaves around the world and cemented Ethopia's place as the only free indigenously ruled nation in Africa. The aftermath of the battle was horrific, with dead and wounded Italians being castrated and native Askari soldiers punished for having fought for the Italians by having a leg and hand removed. Nonetheless, many Italian soldiers in captivity found kindness, compassion and even romance from the families they were billeted upon. A great read, not dry history but a living, breathing account full of fascinating personalities. ( )
  drmaf | Jul 21, 2017 |
Taking you from the rise of Menelik II as Emperor of Ethiopia through the fading ripples of the battle itself, the author seeks to put the Italian defeat at the hands of an Ethiopian 'levee en masse' in a world history context. While I'm not quite sure that I'd buy Jonas' arguement that this was the battle that began the end of Western imperialism, I'll accept his point that it makes a better beginning of the end of European hegemony than does the Spanish-American or Russo-Japanese wars.

As for the battle itself, the Ethiopians had numbers, organization, and the lay of the land going for them, but what really seems to have led to Italian disaster is command turbulence. The senior Italian brigade commanders had little use for the justified caution of their overall field commander and apparently had a conspiracy to bring on a meeting engagement out of contempt for the Ethiopians; it's hard to tell in the wake of the coverup. ( )
  Shrike58 | Dec 13, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0674052749, Hardcover)

In March 1896 a well-disciplined and massive Ethiopian army did the unthinkable—it routed an invading Italian force and brought Italy’s war of conquest in Africa to an end. In an age of relentless European expansion, Ethiopia had successfully defended its independence and cast doubt upon an unshakable certainty of the age—that sooner or later all Africans would fall under the rule of Europeans. This event opened a breach that would lead, in the aftermath of world war fifty years later, to the continent’s painful struggle for freedom from colonial rule.

Raymond Jonas offers the first comprehensive account of this singular episode in modern world history. The narrative is peopled by the ambitious and vain, the creative and the coarse, across Africa, Europe, and the Americas—personalities like Menelik, a biblically inspired provincial monarch who consolidated Ethiopia’s throne; Taytu, his quick-witted and aggressive wife; and the Swiss engineer Alfred Ilg, the emperor’s close advisor. The Ethiopians’ brilliant gamesmanship and savvy public relations campaign helped roll back the Europeanization of Africa.

Figures throughout the African diaspora immediately grasped the significance of Adwa, Menelik, and an independent Ethiopia. Writing deftly from a transnational perspective, Jonas puts Adwa in the context of manifest destiny and Jim Crow, signaling a challenge to the very concept of white dominance. By reopening seemingly settled questions of race and empire, the Battle of Adwa was thus a harbinger of the global, unsettled century about to unfold.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:39 -0400)

In 1896 a massive Ethiopian army routed an invading Italian force and brought Italys conquest of Africa to an end. In defending its independence, Ethiopia cast doubt on the assumption that all Africans would fall under the rule of Europeans, and opened a breach that would lead to the continents painful struggle for freedom from colonial rule.… (more)

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