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Free French Africa in World War II
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    Fell, Alison S. and Wardleworth, Nina 2016. The Colour of War Memory: Cultural Representations ofTirailleurs Sénégalais. Journal of War & Culture Studies, Vol. 9, Issue. 4, p. 319.

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    Free French Africa in World War II
    • Online ISBN: 9781107261464
    • Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781107261464
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Book description

Only in recent years have historians rediscovered the critical role that French colonial troops played in the twentieth century's two world wars. What is perhaps still deeply under-appreciated is how much General de Gaulle's Free France drew its strength from 1940 to the middle of 1943 from fighting men, resources, and operations in French Equatorial Africa rather than London. Territorially, Free France spanned from the Libyan border with Chad down to the Congo River, and to the scattered tiny French territories of the South Pacific and India. Eric T. Jennings tells the story of an improbable French military and institutional rebirth through Central Africa and gives a unique, deep look at the key role Free French Africa played during World War II to help the Allied cause.

Reviews

‘A salutary work that sheds new light on France’s relationship with its former colonies at a time when the French army is intervening in the Central African Republic, once part of Free French Africa.’

Julie Clarini Source: Le Monde

'This is an important book by a first-rate historian on a subject that will certainly interest all modern French historians, scholars of colonialism in Africa, and World War II specialists. There is no competing work on the subject, which is saying something given the number of books on every other aspect of the war. Eric Jennings writes fluently and has a wonderful eye for visuals - a trademark of all his previous books - and the research is broad ranging and top notch. Free French Africa in World War II is an example of transnational history at its best.'

Alice L. Conklin - Ohio State University

‘In demonstrating the importance of French Equatorial Africa to the cause of the Free French Eric Jennings provides a compelling alternative to celebrations of resistance in the metropole. He tells in vivid detail just what mobilization for that cause entailed for Africans - forced labor as well as military service - and makes clear that this was a formative moment in the intertwined histories of France and Africa.’

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

‘This lucid and original model of the historian’s craft compels us to rethink a foundational episode in the making of France and of Africa, thereby re-casting their relationships not only to each other but to the world at large.’

Gregory Mann - Columbia University, New York

‘Everyone knows the famous picture of Free French General Charles de Gaulle at the BBC microphone in London in 1940. But few know that until 1943 the real base of de Gaulle’s power and legitimacy lay in French Africa. In this innovative book, Eric Jennings shows how the Free French exploited the manpower and resources of sub-Saharan French colonies, sometimes in ways that seem contrary to de Gaulle’s mission of liberating France from dictatorship.’

Robert O. Paxton - Mellon Professor Emeritus of Social Sciences, Columbia University

'Drawing upon archival research conducted in Cameroon, Congo, Senegal, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States, Jennings successfully recovers the African perspective and re-centers the history of Free France in Central Africa. Hopefully other historians of World War II will follow suit.'

Dana Bronson Source: African Studies Quarterly

'Free French Africa in World War II provides a clear path to understanding both the voluntary and coerced contributions of Africans in the successful resistance of the Free French against Vichy France and its Italian and German mentors.'

Myron Echenberg Source: Canadian Journal of History

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