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Armies of the Adowa Campaign 1896 (Men-at-Arms) Paperback – 20 Sep 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Osprey (20 Sep 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849084572
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849084574
  • Product Dimensions: 18.5 x 0.5 x 24.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 552,036 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sean McLachlan is a former archaeologist who worked for many years on excavations in the Middle East, Europe, and the United States. Now a full-time writer, he specializes in history and travel. His main historical interests are medieval weapons and the Civil War west of the Mississippi. For his travel writing, he focuses on historical destinations and adventure travel.

Sean spends much of his time on the road researching and writing. He's traveled to more than 30 countries, interviewing nomads in Somaliland, climbing to clifftop monasteries in Ethiopia, studying Crusader castles in Syria, and exploring caves in his favorite state of Missouri. This photo shows him at one of the famous rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, Ethiopia.

Sean is always happy to hear from his readers, so drop him a line!

Product Description

About the Author

Sean McLachlan worked for ten years as an archaeologist before becoming a full-time writer. He has published several books on history and travel and divides his time between Missouri, England and Spain. He has conducted several research trips to Ethiopia in the course of researching this title. His website is

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jon. E. DUGGAN on 15 Nov 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Sean McLachlan's brief overview of the war waged by the might of Italy against the relatively primitive Ethiopian forces is a good introduction for those who may wish to seek further detail.

Raffeale Riggeri's illustrations are superb.

Overall well worth the money.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Pilou on 16 July 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As all those who collect books from the Osprey series, some are good, some are not so good and some are excellent. I am glad to say that I found this one on the disastrous Adowa campaign brilliant in all its details, from the uniforms to the actual recounting of the various engagement that led to the final showdown at Adowa itself. Although there really isn't that much space, this book manages to give you all the necessary details about Italy's colonial ambitions and how it tried to get a foot hold in the quagmire that Ethiopia was. Typically, the Westerners underestimated the resourcefulness of their adversary as well as their knowledge of their own terrain.

This book is a perfect example of how books in this series should be written! Well done Osprey.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Colin Powis on 24 Dec 2011
Format: Paperback
I found this short book very informative as there are few books available that cover the great Ethiopian victory at ADOWA...there is a basic introduction and overview of the battle with some good photos and excellent colour plates
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 7 reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Osprey's Men at Arms Series at its Very Best 1 Oct 2011
By Marco Antonio Abarca - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Whenever you order a new book from Osprey, you never know what you are going to get. At worst, the author is an enthusiastic amateur who knows everything about the subject but writes terribly. Other times, the book is from one Osprey's "period experts" and the books reads like someone's masters thesis. Sometimes, the books turn out great and are models of how to cover a complex subject in an easy to read format. Fortunately, "Armies of the Adowa Campaign" is an example of Osprey Publishing at its very best.

The author Sean McLachlan, is a good writer and it is easy to follow the intricacies of this complex military campaign. As in the best Osprey titles, McLachlan did his research and he obviously loves the subject. In addition, the maps are clear, the photographs are interesting and the illustrations by Raffaele Ruggeri are absolutely first rate. A better introduction to the Italian disaster in Ethiopia cannot be imagined.

As a final note, for those really interested in this campaign be sure to check out "La Guerre Coloniali Italiane 1885/1900" by Raffaele Ruggeri, the illustrator of the book reviewed. It is a bilingual English/Italian work that follows a format very similar to the one popularized by Osprey Publishing. It is 88 pages long and is filled with great photos and illustrations. It will take a little leg work to find it but it is a great supplement to the "Armies of Adowa".
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
If You Liked the Movie Zulu, You'll Love This Book 6 Nov 2011
By R. A Forczyk - Published on
Format: Paperback
Osprey's Men-at-Arms series, which has nearly 500 titles in print, has been gradually devolving into a litany of military uniform trivia and has seemingly run out of new or original titles. Then along came Sean McLachlan's Armies of the Adowa Campaign 1896, which is both original and focused on the kind of content that the MAA series used to deliver. Despite the fact that the Battle of Adowa was a large-scale action, it has received far less coverage than the smaller battles of the earlier Zulu War but it is fair to say that if you liked the film Zulu, you are likely to enjoy this volume. In short, in 1896 the Italians committed an army of 14,000 troops into an invasion of Ethiopia, but ran into an Ethiopian army near Adowa that was five times as large. In the resulting battle, the Italians were defeated piece-meal and were routed with more than 50 percent casualties. This is an excellent volume, with just the right mix of order-of-battle data, uniforms, weapons, campaign narrative and discussion of tactics.

The volume begins with an introduction to the creation of the Italian colonies in East Africa and then moves into a campaign narrative that traces the beginning of the Italian confrontation with Ethiopia in 1895. A total of 18 pages are spent discussing the actual Battle of Adowa and includes a tactical sketch map. The author then details the composition, tactics and weapons of each army. The volume has useful B/W photos as well as eight color plates depicting uniforms. Overall, this is a very satisfying volume and provides a great introduction to the worst colonial defeat of the Nineteenth Century. Armies of the Adowa Campaign is very well written and well researched.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Armies of the Adowa Campaign 29 Dec 2011
By rick - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A very good introduction to this forgotten battle. This is the only english language book that I know of devoted to the battle of Adowa. Twenty years after Little Bighorn which ended in the massacre of nearly 300, the Italians suffered nearly 6,000 killed in a huge catastrophe that resulted in the collapse of an Italian government. The two battles had many similarities--mis-judged indiginous enemy's strength; allowing an already outnumbered force to be split in the face of the enemy; over-estimated ability of a modern European/American army to overcome indigenous numbers; indigenous forces armed with modern weapons (in some cases more modern than that of the European/Americans). However, the scale of the battle, and the Italian disaster was exponentially greater with concomitant strategic effects. Despite this, Adowa gets hardly a notice in English language military histories where the writing and study of Little Big Horn is prolific. This Osprey volume is a good start to remedy this knowledge gap of a very dramatic and horrific battle.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Very good treatment of an obscure subject 2 Dec 2012
By ollb - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Overpriced for its 48-page size, but the most comprehensive and valuable all-in-one-place account I have yet seen of the battle (I have read many, and have been in Adwa several times). The day of the battle is still observed as an Ethiopian national holiday.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Excellent elementary book on the campaign 30 Oct 2011
By lordhoot - Published on
Format: Paperback
I am very surprise that this subject matter, the Adowa Campaign, never made to the Osprey Campaign series. It would have made a great addition. Instead, we are treated with short verison of Men at Arms Series instead. I must ask why the author did not see fit to write an Osprey Campaign book and why he settled on this short version format instead?

I wrote that because I found this book to be highly interesting reading material, there are a lot of facts packed into this book and it definitely deserves a longer treatment then what this series could afford. The narrative is short but well written, obviously the author did his research and provided many colorful plates on the uniforms and outfits of the two opposing sides. There are quite a few interesting photographs included including one where Italians and their African allies were being released, most of the African allies are missing some limbs of their bodies. Another interesting photo was one of two Italian survivors of the battle barely reaching back to their home base, looking more like escaped slaves then soldiers.

Overall, its a pretty informative book that deserves a longer format of a Campaign series. Why the author settled for less is mysterious to me. Adowa campaign is a highly interesting campaign where an African power inflicted the greatest military defeat on an European power during the 19th century. Far greater defeat then Islandlwana which was British's smaller version of what Adowa turnout to be for Italy.
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