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4.3 out of 5 stars
Tip and Run: The Untold Tragedy of the Great War in Africa
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on 16 July 2017
great book one of the best ww1 storys I have ever read ,so good have read it 3 yes 3 times
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on 7 August 2017
Arrived very quickly and is just as described.
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on 29 August 2014
Fascinating book .
The topic is very topical at the moment.
It throws light on aspects of the Greaty war that are usually not known or discussed.
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VINE VOICEon 15 January 2007
For those of us who tend to focus our attention on the Western Front this exposition of one of the African fronts is quite an eye opener, and it will probably become the core reference for the East African front in the Great War.

It explains in detail the political dynamics and the military responses over four years of battle.

The book is very well researched and written in an informative, authoritative but most readable style. The characters emerge as people dealing with the realities of fighting as a `sideshow' to the main events in Europe, but no less important in terms of the global impact.

The index, sources and bibliography are excellent and encourage careful reading. Also it is blessed with good maps, particularly of the individual battlefields.

As seems to be the case in wars in Africa, the campaign in East Africa left only one major loser; the Africans. The point is well made in this book which is recommended.

Mike McCarthy

Editor, "The Battle Guide"

Guild of Battlefield Guides
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on 10 December 2010
This is a scholarly and at times gripping history of the fighting in East Africa during WW1. Events are related in more or less chronological order, with interpolated chapters on such subjects as Belgian and Portuguese colonial politics; the impact of hostilities on the development of apartheid in South Africa; the intensifying propaganda war between Britain and Germany; German attempts to stir up a jihad among the Muslim population of North Africa; and the difficulties of keeping troops supplied over the almost impossible terrain, all of which help to set the campaign in context. The nightmarish consequences for the indigenous civilian population of "White Man's Palaver", and of the Spanish flu pandemic which followed on its heels, form a sombre epilogue.

Although Paice now and again indulges a fondness for labyrinthine sentences, I really can't agree with the reviewers who found his writing style "dry" or "Victorian". His descriptions of the major engagements are lively and full of interesting detail; his account of the end of the Koenigsberg is positively thrilling, even if you do know the outcome beforehand. Tedium inevitably creeps in as the Allies doggedly pursue von Lettow-Forbeck for two years across thousands of miles, but his final surrender two weeks after the end of the war in Europe, and his inability to believe the disaster that had overtaken the Fatherland, are related with real pathos.

Paice provides some welcome balance to the myth of von Lettow-Vorbeck, highlighting his frequently overlooked failures as well as his successes. And, while after the war von Lettow-Vorbeck would boast of the loyalty of "Germany's Africans", Paice notes: "At least 300,000 civilians are thought to have perished in Ruanda, Urundi and German East Africa as a direct result of the German authorities' conduct of the war... and by the time British administrators and troops occupied the former German colonies they were already, in effect, little more than slave states." We Brits may take pride in the fact that, although our colonial record wasn't much better than anyone else's, at least we had the grace to feel vaguely guilty about it from time to time.

As for the offending opening paragraph of Chapter 2, this begins: "Sir Henry Conway Belfield, the Governor of British East Africa, had not only the appearance but also the dwindling faculties and preoccupation with health matters of a much-loved grandfather." I don't know about you, but this strikes me as rather charming pen-portrait. Now I must go and trim my bushy walrus moustache.
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on 7 March 2010
Last June (2008) I was kindly lent a book called The Battle for the Bundu (Charles Miller, 1974: Macmillan). This book began to open for me an episode in WWI which is still very much closed for many people. The war in East Africa was so costly in human and financial terms, and ultimately so futile, that the victorious powers chose to obscure as far as they could any accounting of the cost. Another book has come to hand (by the speedy and efficient services of Amazon) called Tip and Run; the untold tragedy of the Great War in Africa (Edward Paice, 2008: Phoenix).

This book offers much more detail and also discusses the relationships between the warring powers (Great Britain, Belgium, Portugal and to a lesser extent France and Italy on the one side and Germany and to a lesser extent Turkey on the other). Paice also discusses the uneasy politics of South Africa at the time (just over 10 years after the Treaty of Vereeniging at the end of the second Boer War) and the difficulties encountered by those in power (Botha and Smuts) in their support for the Empire when there was a substantial Afrikaaner minority in South Africa in favour of the other side. Indeed, had the "ten-bob rebellion" of 1915 by disgruntled Afrikaaners succeeded, there could have been very serious consequences for the Allied war effort. Nor does he ignore the various races and tribes of the whole of East Africa and the major disasters suffered by them as the Europeans prosecuted their quarrel in this remote corner of their Empires, or even the African units of the British Army (the Gold Coast Regiment and the King's African Rifles). Lastly, although he covers the actions and events in which the various units of the Indian Army were involved, I feel that he might have devoted a little more space to the overall effort played in the War by the Indian units. But this is an extremely minor cavil about a masterly survey of the actions involved in East Africa in 1914 - 1918.

The blurb on the front cover shows "Superb.....meticulously researched and written with tremendous lucidity and brio", William Boyd, Sunday Times. I find that these self advertisements are often uncritical, but this comment is quite true. This book must be the exhaustive study of the war in East Africa, even though there are so many facts which today must be lost in the mists of time. It is mostly well written, and I suspect that the proof reader must have flagged towards the end, since that is where there are more inconsistencies. There are 400 pages of text and quantities of photographs, sixteen maps, notes, sources, a list of dramatis personae and eight appendices. The book is written with a great deal of panache, and throws light on some of the quirkier corners of history. The whole story is so unlikely that, as they say, you couldn't make it up.

Total casualties in the four year campaign may never be known; the British and Imperial Armies lost about 10 000 and the Germans 2 000. Total losses amongst the indigenous Africans were well over 100 000 mostly from disease and war induced famine. Even more died in the Spanish 'flu that followed. For East Africa as a whole, this war was an unmitigated disaster.

Von Lettow Vorbeck, the German field commander, clearly succeeded in his aim of tying down thousands of Allied troops for the whole of the War, and he emerged from the conflict as an undefeated hero and was celebrated as such on his return to the Fatherland. It could all have been so different: after the War one senior British administrator in East Africa pointed out, "Had we not invaded [German] East Africa, it is quite possible that von Lettow Vorbeck would have been compelled to surrender in order to save his own people, particularly the German women and children, from extreme privation. Instead we relieved him of that burden and left him unencumbered to pursue his tactics of attrition. One wonders at times whether it would not have been more profitable to content ourselves with holding our own borders, leaving the Germans to stew in their own juice. In a sense it all seemed so futile......"

Many of the difficulties between the Allies during the War arose from the mutual suspicion and jealousy surrounding their motives and aims concerning the disposal of the German colonies in Africa after the War had been won. There were brief and victorious campaigns in other parts of the African continent. The upshot was that Britain took German East Africa (Tanganyika), added the western slice of Togoland to what became Ghana and a slice of the North Eastern Cameroon to the future Nigeria; France took the rest of Cameroon and eastern Togoland; South Africa at the time emerging from its own colonial status took German South West Africa, now Namibia; Belgium the central states of Ruanda and Burundi which were contiguous with the Belgian Congo; and Portugal regained the Kionga triangle. Portugal's war aim of retaining her Empire had at least been achieved. The German Empire in Africa, on the other hand, founded after the treaty of Berlin in 1884, had come crashing down after only 34 years.

The wartime attitude of the British towards their allies Belgium and Portugal was determined by a sense of colonial superiority. It was not long since the control of the Congo had been wrested from the rapacious maw of Leopold II of Belgium, and vested in the Belgian state. And wherever they looked, the British could see nothing to admire in the Portuguese Empire. Indeed, the northern part of Portuguese East Africa was run by the German owned Companhia do Niassa on similar lines to the British controlled Companhia de Moçambique further south - they were thinly disguised means of exploiting African labour through an indenture system - a kind of slavery by another name.

There is a delightful vignette on the relationship between the British minister in Lisbon (Sir Lancelot Carnegie) and his Portuguese opposite numbers. Carnegie was endowed with exceptional diplomatic skills. He needed them because he was over six feet tall and towered over each and every Portuguese. How difficult it must have been to put over a high-handed British policy to sensitive or even touchy Portuguese ministers from a position of actual physical superiority.

Some of the events of this campaign are remarkable for being so far fetched. The hunt for the German cruiser SMS Königsberg and its eventual destruction miles up an African river; the beginning of air support for artillery in the Rufiji delta; the difficulties of flight itself in tropical air; the aborted support flight by the German airship L59; the overland journey of the British boats Toutou and Mimi from Cape Town to Lake Tanganyika under the command of Spicer-Simson and their part in the war; the sheer crassness of the initial British attack in October 1914 which may have given the Germans some heart for the coming struggle; and the successful penetration of the British blockade of the East African coast by two German supply ships which gave them the means.

Having fought the British and Imperial troops over three years, von Lettow Vorbeck eventually slipped into Portuguese East Africa in November 1917 and after a year long rampage emerged again over the Rovuma in September 1918 with the intention of invading Northern Rhodesia. He was persuaded to surrender at Abercorn in present day Zambia at 11:00 on 25 November 1918. It was exactly a fortnight after the Armistice had come into being, and exactly a year since the German column had crossed into Portuguese East Africa. Von Lettow Vorbeck had achieved his war aim of occupying the attentions of immense numbers of Allied troops and at the same time of eluding capture, but the sense of disappointment among the Germans of his column when they learned the outcome of the War in Europe was crushing. His campaign excited the admiration of many of his opponents, but those left to pick up the pieces in Tanganyika and British East Africa (Kenya) after the War had a less chivalrous view of the death and destruction visited by the warring European powers on a supposedly less civilised African population. They tended to put the blame squarely on the Germans.

The moral question of limited war is an age old problem. To what extent were the European powers justified in taking their quarrel into Africa? To what extent should they have sought to protect their African subjects from the death and destruction that awaited them? I myself find it difficult to countenance a circumstance where Britain would be at war with Germany in Europe, but not in Africa. The British accepted that this war was not only a European war when they made their original attack on Tanga in October 1914. Having started the war in Africa - as they did - it ill becomes the British to criticise the means by which the other side conducted it. Imperial Germany has a wretched reputation for its means of keeping control of its Empire. We know that everyone (indigenous Africans included) seems to have had a poor impression of Portuguese methods of Empire. And if we consider the effect of this war on the indigenous populations of East Africa, can we assert that French and British methods were so superior?
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on 20 July 2007
Of all the various campaigns and theatres from WW1, I have always found the "sideshows" in Africa and the Middle East the most fascinating and manoeuvrist, and of those the African campaigns the most interesting. I have read a number of books on the campaign in East Africa, and this is by far the best researched and most flowing and well written yet. It goes into just the right levels of detail without becoming dry and turgid, as some accounts do.

I have only two complaints with this book. For a start, for a campaign covering so much ground and with small forces so widely dispersed, I felt the supporting maps could have provided a lot more clarity; which they did not. The second point is the misnomer within the title, reference the "Untold Tragedy of the War in Africa" bit. This book was fundamentally about the campaign in East Africa, and within the covers does not even create the pretence of being concerned with German SWA, rebellion in SA, the Cameroons etc. This is a pity, as I am still looking for a book written in the style of Tip and Run which covers the whole of Africa in WW1, and the title here is misleading.

Having said all that, it is an excellent and highly recommended read, and but for these two points I would have scored it 5 stars.
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on 8 December 2008
This is without doubt the definative account of "The White Mans War"in Africa (1914-1918) when there were as many casualties as in The Great War in Europe.
In 1914 Germany had colonies in West Africa (Togo and Cameroons),South Africa(South West Africa)and East Africa (German East Africa) Togo capitulated in Augusr 1914,South West Africa in July 1915 and Cameroons in February 1916 but the East Africa campaign lasted untill two weeks after the armistace in Europe.
The book is divided into 5 parts one for each year of the war.The majority of the text deals with German East Africa but this to be expected as was the main field of battle.
The text which is meticulous in research and the recording is first class The maps are very clear,well drawn and uncluttered.There is an extensive bibliography and notes section plus a list of "dramatis persona" The pictures which are all black and white are excelleent considering their age.A book to be highly recommended.
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on 7 April 2010
I am often interested in the "alternative" campaigns fought in both world wars.

This book opened a whole new world to me. i knew of the war in africa in World war 1, yet knew little about it.

This book enlightened me as to a whole new theatre of operations which had within it, some of the most remarkable feats of the Great War. It also was one of if not the only theatre of the Great War which was entirly fluid and sufferd little or no stalemate despite neither side ever gaining the upper hand significantly.

A well researched and well written book, i recommend this to anyone who would like to see a different side to the Great war, away from the morbid trench warfare of the western front which dominates most histroical accounts of the Great War
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on 6 November 2013
Again, I must apologise but I gave up on this. It is just dull.

It reads like a regurgitation of the Official History - just an endless, hugely detailed narrative that seems to lose the bigger picture. There is doubtless a place for this sort of book but I found it unrewarding reading.

Stylistically the frequent use of single inverted commas is annoying beyond words. It is the sort of prose you get in Staff Collage 'documents'. I also found the odd 'random fact' that gets 'thrown in' here or there like such and such an Admiral being the ugliest man in the Royal Navy actually detracts from the 'text' as they 'add nothing' and reinforce the idea this book needed to have been 'pared down' in the editing. The narrative is not well supported by the maps either. After an endless amount of flicking back and forward and squinting to try and discern exactly what was going on and where I just gave in.

A very worthy topic and the author is clearly all over his sources. It is just not well presented.
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