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Armies of the Adowa Campaign 1896: The Italian Disaster in Ethiopia (Men-at-Arms) Paperback – September 20, 2011


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Armies of the Adowa Campaign 1896: The Italian Disaster in Ethiopia (Men-at-Arms) + The Battle of Adwa: African Victory in the Age of Empire + A History of Modern Ethiopia, 1855–1991: Second Edition (Eastern African Studies)
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Product Details

  • Series: Men-at-Arms (Book 471)
  • Paperback: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Osprey Publishing (September 20, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849084572
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849084574
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 0.2 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #791,427 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Sean McLachlan worked for ten years as an archaeologist before becoming a full-time writer. He has published several books on history and travel and divides his time between Missouri, England and Spain. He has conducted several research trips to Ethiopia in the course of researching this title. His website is www.seanmclachlan.com

Customer Reviews

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See all 8 customer reviews
The volume has useful B/W photos as well as eight color plates depicting uniforms.
R. A Forczyk
Armies of the Adowa Campaign, an account of Italian colonial defeat in Ethiopia in 1896, is an excellent addition to the Osprey library.
Max Prendergast
Sometimes, the books turn out great and are models of how to cover a complex subject in an easy to read format.
Marco Antonio Abarca

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Marco Antonio Abarca VINE VOICE on September 30, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Whenever you order a new book from Osprey, you never know what you are going to get. At worst, the author is an enthusiastic amateur who knows everything about the subject but writes terribly. Other times, the book is from one Osprey's "period experts" and the books reads like someone's masters thesis. Sometimes, the books turn out great and are models of how to cover a complex subject in an easy to read format. Fortunately, "Armies of the Adowa Campaign" is an example of Osprey Publishing at its very best.

The author Sean McLachlan, is a good writer and it is easy to follow the intricacies of this complex military campaign. As in the best Osprey titles, McLachlan did his research and he obviously loves the subject. In addition, the maps are clear, the photographs are interesting and the illustrations by Raffaele Ruggeri are absolutely first rate. A better introduction to the Italian disaster in Ethiopia cannot be imagined.

As a final note, for those really interested in this campaign be sure to check out "La Guerre Coloniali Italiane 1885/1900" by Raffaele Ruggeri, the illustrator of the book reviewed. It is a bilingual English/Italian work that follows a format very similar to the one popularized by Osprey Publishing. It is 88 pages long and is filled with great photos and illustrations. It will take a little leg work to find it but it is a great supplement to the "Armies of Adowa".
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By R. A Forczyk VINE VOICE on November 6, 2011
Format: Paperback
Osprey's Men-at-Arms series, which has nearly 500 titles in print, has been gradually devolving into a litany of military uniform trivia and has seemingly run out of new or original titles. Then along came Sean McLachlan's Armies of the Adowa Campaign 1896, which is both original and focused on the kind of content that the MAA series used to deliver. Despite the fact that the Battle of Adowa was a large-scale action, it has received far less coverage than the smaller battles of the earlier Zulu War but it is fair to say that if you liked the film Zulu, you are likely to enjoy this volume. In short, in 1896 the Italians committed an army of 14,000 troops into an invasion of Ethiopia, but ran into an Ethiopian army near Adowa that was five times as large. In the resulting battle, the Italians were defeated piece-meal and were routed with more than 50 percent casualties. This is an excellent volume, with just the right mix of order-of-battle data, uniforms, weapons, campaign narrative and discussion of tactics.

The volume begins with an introduction to the creation of the Italian colonies in East Africa and then moves into a campaign narrative that traces the beginning of the Italian confrontation with Ethiopia in 1895. A total of 18 pages are spent discussing the actual Battle of Adowa and includes a tactical sketch map. The author then details the composition, tactics and weapons of each army. The volume has useful B/W photos as well as eight color plates depicting uniforms. Overall, this is a very satisfying volume and provides a great introduction to the worst colonial defeat of the Nineteenth Century. Armies of the Adowa Campaign is very well written and well researched.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By rick on December 29, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A very good introduction to this forgotten battle. This is the only english language book that I know of devoted to the battle of Adowa. Twenty years after Little Bighorn which ended in the massacre of nearly 300, the Italians suffered nearly 6,000 killed in a huge catastrophe that resulted in the collapse of an Italian government. The two battles had many similarities--mis-judged indiginous enemy's strength; allowing an already outnumbered force to be split in the face of the enemy; over-estimated ability of a modern European/American army to overcome indigenous numbers; indigenous forces armed with modern weapons (in some cases more modern than that of the European/Americans). However, the scale of the battle, and the Italian disaster was exponentially greater with concomitant strategic effects. Despite this, Adowa gets hardly a notice in English language military histories where the writing and study of Little Big Horn is prolific. This Osprey volume is a good start to remedy this knowledge gap of a very dramatic and horrific battle.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Peter Huston on December 28, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Armies of the Adowa Campaign 1896, Osprey Men at Arms 471.
Written by Sean McLachlan, and Illustrated by Raffaele Ruggeri, Copyright 2011, 48 pages.

Scope - big
Completeness - fair
Appeal - high
Accuracy --not able to judge

The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were the age of imperialism. It was during this period that many of the more developed, more powerful, primarily European nations engaged in campaigns of conquest and control throughout the lesser developed, primarily African and Asian portions of the world. Few really understand that in Asia, for instance, every nation except Japan (which modernized quickly and became a colonial power itself) and Thailand (which managed to maintain independence by playing the French against the British) were colonized in whole or in part. In Africa, the exceptions were Liberia (which had a strange history as it became dominated by returning African-Americans) and Ethiopia which maintained its independence until the Italian conquest shortly before world war two.

Which begs the question, how did Ethiopia maintain its independence? The answer lies in this book.

In the late nineteenth century, Italy was a recently united nation, not terribly respected by many of its neighbors and considered to be behind its peers in terms of gaining colonies. The Italians sought to gain colonies in the region of Ethiopia, Eretria, and Somalia as well as portions of north Africa. In Ethiopia, the Italians began a large campaign of conquest and colonization.
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More About the Author

Sean McLachlan is a former archaeologist who has excavated in the Middle East, Europe, and the United States. Now a full-time writer, he specializes in history, travel, and fiction. He won the 2013 Society of American Travel Writers Award for his Iraq reportage.

Sean is busy working on three fiction series: Toxic World (post-apocalyptic science fiction), House Divided (Civil War horror), and the upcoming Trench Raiders action series set in World War One.

Half of Sean's time is spent on the road researching and writing. He's traveled to more than 30 countries, interviewing nomads in Somaliland, climbing to clifftop monasteries in Ethiopia, studying Crusader castles in Syria, and exploring caves in his favorite state of Missouri.

Sean is always happy to hear from his readers, so drop him a line via his blog!

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