Armies of the Adowa Campaign 1896, Osprey Men at Arms 471.
Written by Sean McLachlan, and Illustrated by Raffaele Ruggeri, Copyright 2011, 48 pages.
Scope - big
Completeness – fair
Appeal – high
Accuracy --not able to judge
The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were the age of imperialism. It was during this period that many of the more developed, more powerful, primarily European nations engaged in campaigns of conquest and control throughout the lesser developed, primarily African and Asian portions of the world. Few really understand that in Asia, for instance, every nation except Japan (which modernized quickly and became a colonial power itself) and Thailand (which managed to maintain independence by playing the French against the British) were colonized in whole or in part. In Africa, the exceptions were Liberia (which had a strange history as it became dominated by returning African-Americans) and Ethiopia which maintained its independence until the Italian conquest shortly before world war two.
Which begs the question, how did Ethiopia maintain its independence? The answer lies in this book.
In the late nineteenth century, Italy was a recently united nation, not terribly respected by many of its neighbors and considered to be behind its peers in terms of gaining colonies. The Italians sought to gain colonies in the region of Ethiopia, Eretria, and Somalia as well as portions of north Africa. In Ethiopia, the Italians began a large campaign of conquest and colonization. Although it was common for African and Asian people to resist such colonization efforts, the Ethiopians not only fought back, but they fought back successfully, defeating and humiliating a large Italian army (composed largely of African Askaris recruited on the continent) and keeping their nation independent from Italian control. Many claim that of all the colonial battles this is the only incident where a European nation was defeated and never returned to avenge that defeat. (Which, incidentally, is one reason why the Italians came back and conquered Ethiopia in the 1930s, partially to reverse the humiliation they’d experienced at the hands of the Ethiopians. But that’s another story told in a different Osprey book.)
Like most of the Osprey books on obscure conflicts, this one begins with a 24 page overview of the conflict. In this brief space it gives a fairly good description of what happened and why the two nations involved were fighting.)
The Ethiopian army is covered in 13 pages. Logistics, weapons, and composition of the army is covered fairly well.
The Italian army is covered in 6 pages. Again, logistics, weapons, and composition of the army is covered fairly well.