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Africa and World War II
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Book description

This volume considers the military, economic, and political significance of Africa during World War II. The essays feature new research and innovative approaches to the historiography of Africa and bring to the fore issues of race, gender, and labor during the war, topics that have not yet received much critical attention. It explores the experiences of male and female combatants, peasant producers, women traders, missionaries, and sex workers. The first section offers three introductory essays that give a continent-wide overview of how Africa sustained the Allied effort through labor and resources. The six sections that follow offer individual case studies from different parts of the continent. Contributors offer a macro and micro view of the multiple levels on which Africa's contributions shaped the war as well as the ways in which the war affected individuals and communities and transformed Africa's political, economic, and social landscape.


'For Africans, World War II began in 1935 with Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia, and it lasted well beyond 1945, as Africans demanded that their contributions and sacrifices for the Allied war effort be recognized. Africa and World War II brings together well-researched and compelling accounts by accomplished scholars, exploring not only the importance of Africans’ roles as soldiers and producers, but the war’s effects on class, race, and gender relations. This collection makes clear the importance of the war in provoking a crisis in colonial empires and transforming the nature of political mobilization across the African continent.'

Frederick Cooper - author of Citizenship between Empire and Nation: Remaking France and French Africa, 1945–1960

'A seminal book marking a new stage in studies of the Second World War in Africa. These wide-ranging essays offer new ideas, insights, and analyses of the pervasive impact of the Second World War throughout the continent. Here are model macro- and micro-studies to stimulate further research on this important period of Africa’s recent past.'

David Killingray - School of Advanced Study, University of London

'Lest we forget, this book reminds us of the vital role that African men and women and African resources played in winning a supposedly good war. Often seen simply as forerunner to decolonization, the Second World War had its own African history. It conscripted sweated African labor, female and male; it recruited African masculinity into a racial equality of sacrifice while denying it equality of esteem; it opened African eyes to the possibilities of a different world. This comprehensive collection portrays a war fought not only on many frontlines but also, and with more lasting significance, in households and communities far behind them.'

John Lonsdale - Professor Emeritus, University of Cambridge

'The editors merit high praise indeed for assembling this large and impressive collection. The volume sheds much new light on the remarkably neglected African dimension of the ‘global’ war of 1939–1945. The authors of the various essays demonstrate how events north and south of the Sahara affected the outcome of the conflict, and also how the economic, political, and cultural developments of the period affected profoundly the lives of Africans, men and women alike.'

Evan Mawdsley - University of Glasgow

'This book offers a very substantial contribution to an understanding of both the significant role of African peoples and resources in Allied victory in World War II and of the impact of the war on the peoples of the continent.'

Gerhard L. Weinberg - Professor Emeritus, University of North Carolina, Greensboro

'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. … As a volume, this will prove of great value to serious scholars of Africa, while individual essays may be of interested to those with narrower interests, such as the Free French movement or various military options.'

Source: NYMAS Review

'This collection of essays by historians and political scientists from across the English-speaking world examine various aspects of the political and diplomatic institutions and decisions that had immediate influence on the outbreak of the Great War. The essays fall into four groups, 'Overview of Debates about the Causes of the First World War', 'Structure and Agency', 'The Question of Preventive War', and 'The Role of the Other Powers'. The essays are all well-documented and thoughtful, but tend to be analytical, rather than narrative, often fall into political science jargon, and presuppose considerable knowledge of events and actors on the part of the reader. An excellent work, this is primarily for the serious scholar of the Great War and of decision-making in times of crisis.'

A. A. Nofi Source: StrategyPage (

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