The First Victory


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The Second World War and the East Africa Campaign

Andrew Stewart

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A riveting new account of the long-overlooked achievement of British-led forces who, against all odds, scored the first major Allied victory of the Second World War

Surprisingly neglected in accounts of Allied wartime triumphs, in 1941 British and Commonwealth forces completed a stunning and important victory in East Africa against an overwhelmingly superior Italian opponent. A hastily formed British-led force, never larger than 70,000 strong, advanced along two fronts to defeat nearly 300,000 Italian and colonial troops. This compelling book draws on an array of previously unseen documents to provide both a detailed campaign history and a fresh appreciation of the first significant Allied success of the war.
Andrew Stewart investigates such topics as Britain’s African wartime strategy; how the fighting forces were assembled (most from British colonies, none from the U.S.); General Archibald Wavell’s command abilities and his difficult relationship with Winston Churchill; the resolute Italian defense at Keren, one of the most bitterly fought battles of the entire war; the legacy of the campaign in East Africa; and much more.

Andrew Stewart is reader in the defence studies department of King’s College London, and codirector of the King’s Second World War Research Group. He lives in Oxford, UK.

“Clear exposition based on exhaustive research and informed judgment . . . [An] excellent contribution to World War II historiography.”—Martin Rubin, Washington Times

'Exciting and multilayered, this is a comprehensive account of an overlooked campaign in which an outnumbered imperial army destroyed Mussolini’s dream of a new Roman Empire. Fighting over vast distances and inhospitable terrain, forces from the Congo, Ethiopia and across the British Empire recorded the Allies' first major triumph. With its mastery of archival sources, The First Victory displays Andrew Stewart’s skill as an historian of Second World War campaigns and their political and strategic context. An exhilarating read.'—Ashley Jackson, author of Churchill

‘This is a highly readable account of a little-known military campaign and an important addition to our understanding of the Second World War. The author is to be congratulated on penning an authoritative and well-written book.'—Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC, author of Victoria Cross Heroes

The First Victory is that rarity of military history: groundbreaking research combined with first-rate narrative skills. The critical neglect suffered by the East Africa campaign in volumes of popular history is now significantly redressed.”—Steve Donoghue, Open Letters

“A perceptive account . . . astute and highly readable.”—Paolo Morisi, Michigan War Studies Review

“A work of deep archival research with an astounding command of the secondary literature on WWII.”–James R. Brennan, Canadian Journal of History
ISBN: 9780300208559
Publication Date: November 22, 2016
328 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
20 b/w illus.