Sunday, January 21, 2007

An ice-cream war

William Boyd at the Sunday Times on Edward Paice's history of the Great War in Africa:

In the winter and spring of 1980-81 I was living in Oxford, busy writing and researching my second novel, An Ice-Cream War, which had as its setting the first world war in East Africa, or, more precisely, the long inter-colonial conflict between British East Africa (today’s Kenya) and German East Africa (Tanzania). How I would have welcomed Edward Paice’s superb history of that strange and calamitous war. Sidelined by the greater carnage and momentous events of the European theatre, the war in Africa had produced few definitive books. There were a couple of popular histories, the odd novel, long out of print, but I remember searching the catalogues of the Bodleian library and Rhodes House for anything that would throw real light on the campaign. Even the multi-volumed official history of the great war Great Warwas deficient. Of the two volumes meant to be devoted to the African campaign only one had been published, its author dying before volume two could be completed.

2 comments:

  1. Ralph Hitchens1/22/2007 2:25 PM

    Nice review. Hew Strachan's The First World War, Vol. I, has an excellent chapter on the war in Africa, possibly the best short summary available anywhere. One interesting point Strachan brings up is that just before the war broke out, the German government was conducting a large-scale tropical medicine research project in East Africa, so the German colonial "Schutztruppen" benefitted from a large contingent of medical personnel and remained healthier than their Commonwealth counterparts.

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