Encyclopedia of African Colonial Conflicts. Edited by Timothy J. Stapleton. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2017. 2 vols. Acid free $189 (ISBN 978-1-5988-4836-6). E-book available (978-1-5988-4837-3), call for pricing.

Africa has experienced more than its fair share of warfare and general strife during the past half century. Many of these struggles have their roots in colonialism, which inspired the ethnic division, military tactics, and brutality that characterized subsequent conflicts, even those occurring long after the colonial regimes caved to African independence movements. This encyclopedia covers the major colonial-era wars between Africans and Europeans and/or their allies and proxies, as well as the occasional fight among Europeans. While there are many works concerning colonialism, conflict, and specific wars in Africa, this work is unique in being a reference work dedicated solely to the colonial conflicts.

The set encompass conflicts in North, South, East, West, and Central Africa during the sixteenth to twentieth centuries, although for obvious historical reasons based on the Scramble for Africa, the mid- to late nineteenth century encompasses the bulk of the book. Southern Africa appears to have the widest coverage in number of conflicts and across the longest stretches of time. The great nineteenth-century colonial powers, England and France, as well as lesser players such as Germany, Belgium, Italy, and more are covered, as are early wars conducted by the Dutch and Portuguese.

There are over 360 entries comprising the conflicts, major figures, events, combatants, and other relevant topics related to the subject. Other features include a good index, including a list of conflicts by colonial power and African country or territory, which complements the list of entries and “Guide to Related Topics.” Unfortunately, the work is sparsely illustrated and the chronology is not annotated (simply listing date and conflict title). The source material for the conflicts is biased toward the colonialists as the author notes, yet it still provides vivid accounts of events and endeavors to present the African perspective when source materials are available. Recommended for all college and university libraries.—Brent D. Singleton, Coordinator for Reference Services, California State University, San Bernardino, California


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