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Portugal's Guerrilla Wars in Africa. Lisbon's Three Wars in Angola, Mozambique and Portuguese Guinea 1961-74 Hardcover – 5 Dec 2013


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Helion and Company (5 Dec. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1909384577
  • ISBN-13: 978-1909384576
  • Product Dimensions: 3.8 x 15.9 x 24.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 299,884 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By NicksOpinion on 25 Feb. 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
From the perspective of today it seems barely credible: between 1961-1974 Portugal fought three separate wars in Angola, Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau. The African countries were possessions of Portugal and put together were more than 20 times the size of the colonial power. At the time, Portugal was an impoverished country - the second poorest in Europe - with a population of just 9 million and a small military that hadn't seen action in generations. Yet it managed to run several military campaigns for a period over twice as long as the American presence in Vietnam and with a reasonable degree of effectiveness for much of the time, despite the huge logistical challenges. By 1974 the military campaigns were consuming nearly half of Portugal's GDP; it was an unsustainable effort and in April 1974 a coup in Lisbon resulted in a change of government and a rapid end to Portugal's empire. The Portuguese armed forces could never have hoped to win, but nor were they defeated in the conventional sense.

This book is a detailed account of those forgotten wars, written by someone who was there. Al Venter is a British journalist who spent a considerable amount of time in Africa with the Portuguese forces, and writes with both passion and objectivity. He was also a keen photographer, and the book is lavishly illustrated with his work. There are few comprehensive works on these campaigns, which did not capture the imagination and interest of the Anglosphere in the way that Vietnam and Rhodesia did. Such that do exist tend to be in Portuguese, making them inaccessible to many historians. But the story deserves to be told; not to glorify or defend the indefensible but to understand the wider context in which White Africa existed and the events that helped lead to its demise. It is essential reading for anyone interested in subsequent events in Rhodesia and South Africa, by providing the background to what was happening 'over the border'.

Highly recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Fernando Mora Oliveira on 18 May 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I enjoyed Reading about my country's african wars from the perspective of someone who travelled there extensively and did not try to take a stand for or against but rather related his contacts and what he experienced there.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 8 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Unknown history that few Americans ever read about. 7 April 2014
By Rufusfirefly - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book was a treasure trove of facts and information about a war that the US press covered very minutely if at all. In fact only when the Carnation Revolution came to pass did most Americans realize that Portugal had been fighting 3 Vietnams at one time, and with somewhat better success than the US did. Shame that American political leaders never read books like this, or have advisors who do rather than make policy decisions on partisan politics. This book really details these conflicts and Mr. Venter had the luck to have visited some of the theaters of operation and came back to tell the tale.
Almost 5 stars 16 May 2015
By An admirer of Arthur Guinness - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Overall a well-written, well-documented book. The author knows his business. I give it 4 stars instead of 5 for two main reasons:

1. Some not-so-factual and contradictory comments about Portuguese policies in Africa and mistakes in conducting the war. Especially interesting when some times the author makes comparisons with the Rhodesian and South-African cases (in a favorable light for these two latter countries), with the outcome for both countries being exactly the same, i.e. losing the war. Furthermore, it can be strongly argued that Portugal did not lose the war (neither did win it) but ended its 500+ year presence in Africa in the worst possible way, by virtue of rushed and unwise policies in Continental Portugal after the revolution in 1974. The author also struggles in understanding why so many black troops (including elite commandos) were so loyal to Portugal instead of embracing the anti-colonial movements, but fails to understand the old saying that was created by the Belgians and British int he 19th Century (in a derogatory way, in their view): "God created the black and the white, the Portuguese created the mulatto"

2. For somebody that spent considerable time in Portuguese African territories and in Portugal itself, the use of what intends to be Portuguese words is less than good. A typical trait of some English individuals that can't learn simple words in a foreign language. For instance, the author repeatedly uses the term "Alfares" instead of "Alferes" (a military rank) and "Chef do Poste" when the correct term is "Chefe do Posto". Not a huge problem, but an opportunity for further improving what is already a very good book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Three Stars 27 Oct. 2014
By Brian Denny - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Interesting but would have far better if more detail on how the Fletcha's operated in war
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
too bad didn t have more of Angola but Love 6 Dec. 2014
By Antonio J Marques - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
real time and true stories....
too bad didn t have more of Angola
but Love it
Great insight into Portugal's involvement in the "African Liberation Wars." 22 April 2015
By Maggot - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What looks like a terribly boring title was in fact a very nicely written "memoir" with elements of scholarship. Most unusual was the plethora of photographs, "each worth a thousand words." I learned a lot from this nicely written book and it flowed easily. It was not a typical "boring scholarly book."
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