British Empire Books

Victorian Colonial Warfare: Africa

AuthorDonald Featherstone
Originally Published1992
ISBN No.0713722568

This is a good resource for anyone interested in the military history of The British Empire. The author, Donald Featherstone, is an extremely prolofic writer who has written on many aspects of the British army. The breadth and depth of this knowledge is quickly evident to the reader of this book. However, the main reason to get hold of this book is not to read of his analysis of Victorian warfare, but to read the articles and look at the pictures that have been diligently researched and collected from the Illustrated London News. The quality and quantity of this material turns this book into a valuable primary sourced document. It is fascinating to read the first-hand accounts of these actions by reporters and the military men who were actually involved. These statements and accounts are bridged and explained by the author, but he does it in a way that maintains the fresh, current feeling of the narratives.

The Illustrated London News is best known for its high quality prints. In the days before the camera, these prints provided the binoculars that allowed people in Britain to see the exotic peoples and places mentioned in these dispatches. The quality of the artwork can unduobtedly be vivid and highly evocative. The use of these prints helps the reader of this book imagine the events as contemporary citizens would have imagined them.

The book covers most of the major sub-saharan campaigns in considerable detail. In addition to the narratives, the author provides exhaustive lists of the units and individuals involved in the campaigns. Likewise, casualty figures are also included where they are available. The book also provides information on some of the lesser known military expeditions and incursions, such as in Benin, Jubaland and Zanzibar. It is usually very difficult to find information on these kinds of skirmishes so the addition of this information, however limited, is a welcome inclusion.

The book is well organised and clearly presented. Its narrative form may get a bit tiring if you had to read the book in one sitting. But fortunately, the material is presented in a way that makes it an easy book to jump in and out of as your interest and research requires. All in all a welcome addition to the military historian's bookshelf.

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by Stephen Luscombe