Saturday, April 29, 2017

African Kaiser by Robert Gaudi

Anyone interested in 20th-century culture is bound to spend some time thinking about World War I. Yet while most of us are aware of the horrors of trench combat and the thousands lying dead in Flanders fields where poppies blow, what about the war outside Europe? What about German East Africa? 

Still, the war in Africa was more than a sideshow. A brilliant guerrilla strategist, Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck forged his fanatically loyal Schutztruppe — a small colonial infantry consisting of largely black soldiers — into “a highly efficient fighting force, aggressive and completely self-supporting,” and one that was “the first racially integrated army in modern history.” As von Lettow bluntly said, “Here in Africa we are all equal. The better man will always outwit the inferior and the color of his skin does not matter.” These words were not mere lip service, either: His actions show that he genuinely believed them.

Read Michael Dirda's full review at the Washington Post and see more reviews on Amazon

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