Book Review: Africa and World War II


by Judith A. Blyfield, Carolyn A. Brown, Timothy Parsons, and Ahmad Alawad Sikainga, editors

New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015. Pp. xxiv, 540. Illus., maps, notes. $39.99 paper. ISBN: 1107630223

Africa and the War Against Fascism

Although there have been several recent works on the role of various European colonies in World War II, the two dozen plus essays in this volume by an international group of scholars demonstrate that much ground remains to be covered.

Essays are grouped into seven sections:

  • “Introduction” offers overviews of the experience of ordinary Africans in the war, Africa as a source of resources and manufactured goods, and African labor in the War.
  • “Colonial Subjects and Imperial Armies” includes treatments on the problem of recruiting African men for quasi-military service in South Africa, the Moroccan military experience, the use of forced colonial labor by both Vichyites and Free French, and the problems of disabled Kenyan veterans.
  • “Race, Gender, and Social Change” considers a range of topics, such as the role of women in rice growing in Nigeria, the war’s and Portugal’s colonies, and even the impact of the war on Tanzanian forests.
  • “Experiencing War in Europe and Africa” includes several essays on the problem and effects of mobilizing “native” manpower and resources while maintaining colonial authority and racial supremacy.
  • “Experiencing War in Africa and Europe” takes a look at Africans in military service, including women in the Ethiopian resistance, African prisoners-of-war in German hands, and even the experiences and influence of African-American troops stationed in Africa.
  • “World War II and Anti-Colonialism” includes three essays on the ways in which the war influenced social change and decolonialization movements, and the very overlooked role of veterans in decolonization.

Africa and World War II will prove of great value to serious scholars of Africa, while individual essays may be of value for those with narrower interests, such as the Free French movement, and, although more might have been included, several military operations in Africa or that involved African troops.

Note: Africa and World War II is also available in hard cover, $98.00, ISBN, 978-1-1070-5320-5, and as an e-book, $28.00, ISBN 978-1-3163-0920-9.


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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