Warfare in African History

Warfare in African History

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This book examines the role of war in shaping the African state, society, and economy. Richard J. Reid helps students understand different patterns of military organization through Africa's history; the evolution of weaponry, tactics, and strategy; and the increasing prevalence of warfare and militarism in African political and economic systems. He traces shifts in the culture and practice of war from the first millennium into the era of the external slave trades, and then into the nineteenth century, when a military revolution unfolded across much of Africa. The repercussions of that revolution, as well as the impact of colonial rule, continue to this day. The frequency of coups d'etats and civil war in Africa's recent past is interpreted in terms of the continent's deeper past.
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Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 8 maps
  • 1139368087
  • 9781139368087

Table of contents

1. The contours of violence: environment, economy, and polity in African warfare; 2. Arms in Africa's antiquity: patterns and systems of warfare, to the early second millennium CE; 3. The military foundations of state and society, to c.1600; 4. Destruction and construction, c.1600-c.1800; 5. Transformations in violence: military revolution and the 'long' nineteenth century; 6. Revolutions incomplete: the old and the new in the modern era.
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Review quote

'At long last, we have a scholarly book that effectively integrates the seemingly bewildering array of recent conflicts in Africa into a longer historical narrative about African social life. Admirably synthesizing vast amounts of historical research, Warfare in African History retains great readability, making it an accessible and necessary corrective to simplistic and ahistorical understandings of violent conflict in contemporary Africa. In revealing both the transformative and destructive capacities of warfare across the vast temporal and geographic sweep of African history, this book humanizes Africa's histories of violence. In so doing, it changes how we think about African social, cultural and military history, and opens exciting new avenues towards including Africa in global military histories.' Michelle Moyd, Indiana University 'In this bold and impressive synthesis of historical experiences of warfare in Africa, Reid advances important insights about common elements of warfare that are woven through the longue duree of Africa's political development. This book will become a classic, a must-read.' William Reno, Northwestern University 'While modern Africa is often characterized by violence, the longer scope of organized violence in African history is not as well studied. Richard Reid's comprehensive survey of African warfare places it fully in its social and ecological contexts, tying war to state formation, the slave trade and modern state functioning. His work is wide ranging, intellectually engaging and not afraid to make broad and interesting generalizations, based on an extensive reading of dispersed sources.' John K. Thornton, Boston University 'Only Richard Reid has the grasp of the sweep of African history, and the place of conflict in it, to write this book. I only wish it had been available when I began to research the subject. Students, scholars and interested general readers will all profit from its timely appearance.' Bruce Vandervort, editor of the Journal of Military History and author of Wars of Imperial Conquest in Africa, 1830-1914
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About Richard J. Reid

Richard J. Reid is Reader in the History of Africa, Department of History, SOAS, at the University of London. He is the author of several books, including Frontiers of Violence in North-East Africa (2011), War in Pre-Colonial Eastern Africa (2007) and Political Power in Pre-Colonial Buganda (2002).
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