GUERRILLA: Colonel von Lettow-Vorbeck and Germany's East African Empire by Edwin P. Hoyt

GUERRILLA: Colonel von Lettow-Vorbeck and Germany's East African Empire

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A relatively concise, generally accurate, but totally undistinguished account of a rather well-explored subject--the 1914-18 campaigns in East Africa commanded by Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, the only undefeated German general of World War I. For prolific war-chronicler Hoyt, this is a return to the scene of The Germans Who Never Lost (1968), about the related career of the cruiser Konigsberg (one reason, perhaps, why that element is slighted here). He begins with some background on Lettow-Vorbeck, one of the few German officers with colonial experience (glossing over L-V's role in the Hereto genocide, however, with the remark that he was learning ""respect for the blacks as fighters""). The bulk of the book is then devoted to Lettow-Vorbeck's remarkably irregular campaign, which tied down more than ten times as many Allied troops as he had in his command and ranged over thousands of miles of often trackless wilderness. And Lettow-Vorbeck never did surrender: driven out of German East Africa, he mounted a guerrilla operation from neighboring Portuguese territory until the general Armistice. Apart from some gratuitous mind-reading and some flagrantly wasted words (e.g., ""Unconditional surrender is defined as surrender without conditions""), the account is decently readable; and Hoyt does take sensitive note, here, of the effects of racism on British and Boer attitudes toward Lettow-Vorbeck's largely black forces. Interesting enough, then, but not ""the only full-length account"" of these events--nor in any way superior to Leonard Mosley's Duel for Kilimanjaro (1963) or Charles Miller's Battle for the Bundu (1974).

Pub Date: Nov. 25th, 1981
Publisher: Macmillan