by Mitch on April 26, 2012 0 Comments

Italian Officers and askari.

Concluded on 26 October 1896, the Treaty of Addis Ababa ended the First Italo-Abyssinian War of 1895–1896, confirmed the independence of Abyssinia, and ratified the decisive defeat its armies inflicted on an Italian expeditionary force at the Battle of Adwa six months earlier. The origins of the conflict can be traced to the previous decade. Italy, ambitious to assert its great-power status by establishing an empire in Africa, was sufficiently late on the scene that its greatest initial success was occupying the decrepit Red Sea port of Massawa in 1885. Italy continued to penetrate inland into Eritrea, whose mutually antagonistic tribes were increasingly coerced or compelled to accept Italian suzerainty.


An Abyssinian government regarding Eritrea as its territory encouraged local resistance and committed its own forces with fair amounts of success. Then in 1889, a coup brought Menelik II (r. 1889–1913) to Ethiopia’s ...

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by Mitch on April 21, 2012 0 Comments

Heavily armored battleship Ting-yuen
"Battle of the Yellow Sea" by Korechika

The illusion of China's military and naval superiority was quickly dispelled by Japan's rapid thrust into Korea, Manchuria and China proper. Unlike the Sino-French War with its vacillations of policy on both sides, the Sino-Japanese War was dominated from the outset by Japan's systematic campaign that aimed at nothing less than the capture of Peking. The outcome starkly dramatized the failure of China's military preparations and the effectiveness of Japan's. Since 1868, Japan's army and navy building had both benefited from and contributed to modernizing change in other sectors of her society. By 1872, conscription had been introduced stimulating the further growth of national consciousness, while a centralized system of military and naval education sent officers abroad and established schools at home. In 1878, an independent general staff was created, and in 1883 ...

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Book Review: Subhas Chandra Bose In Nazi Germany: Politics, Intelligence, and Propaganda 1941-43.

by Mitch on April 18, 2012 0 Comments

Romain Hayes. Subhas Chandra Bose In Nazi Germany: Politics, Intelligence, and Propaganda 1941-43. New York: Columbia University Press, 2011. xxx + 249 pp. $30.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-231-70234-8; ISBN 978-0-231-80018-1.

Reviewed by Jaideep Prabhu (Vanderbilt)
Published on H-War (April, 2012)
Commissioned by Margaret Sankey

Prabhu on Hayes

Why does a land that has had no history of anti-semitism revere a man who allied himself with the Third Reich and the Axis powers? The man in question, Subhas Chandra Bose, was everything that the Indian freedom movement and its leading figures was not--while Mohandas Gandhi eschewed violence, Bose was the founder of the Indian National Army (INA), and while Jawaharlal Nehru and Gandhi positioned the Indian National Congress (INC) largely in support of the democratic allies, Bose led the INA in concert with Axis troops against the Raj in Southeast Asia.

In this book, Romain Hayes takes up the task of analyzing ...

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Book Review: The Rule of Empires: Those Who Built Them, Those Who Endured Them, and Why They Always Fall.

by Mitch on April 16, 2012 0 Comments

Timothy Parsons. The Rule of Empires: Those Who Built Them, Those Who Endured Them, and Why They Always Fall. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010. 496 pp. $29.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-19-530431-2.

Reviewed by Jodie Mader (Thomas More College)
Published on H-Albion (January, 2012)
Commissioned by Thomas Hajkowski

Are empires ever a good thing? Can the Romans, Britons, and Spanish, and most recently the United States, be criticized and yet admired for their imperial conquests? Questions such as these are the focus of Timothy Parsons’s The Rule of Empires: Those Who Built Them, Those Who Endured Them, and Why They Always Fail. Parsons’s lengthy tome asks whether empires are ever advantageous. He answers with an unequivocal “no.” His thesis is that “Empire has never been more than naked self-interest masquerading as virtue,” and he adds that his book will show “why empires are unbearable and eventually untenable” (p ...

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The Mareth line

by Mitch on April 16, 2012 0 Comments

Remaining Bunkers in the Mareth Line

The Mareth line was built by the French between 1936 and 1940. It was aimed at protecting Tunisia (French protectorate) from a possible expressionist push of the Italians coming from Libya. It was 45 km long, between the sea and the small 700m height Dahar mountain.


It was composed by 8 artillery bunkers and 40 infantry bunkers.


In June 1940, an armistice is signed between France and Germany. France is considered as a non-fighting country, and thus, the Mareth line is demilitarized and disarmed.


On the 9th of November 1942, English-American troops invaded the French North Africa by surprise (operation Torch). The German-Italian troops reacted with the Tunisia invasion.


In November 1942, after his El Alamein defeat, Rommel retreated to Tunisia, 6000km away through the Libyan desert. He decided to rearm the Mareth line as a defence against the Allied prosecutors: German army posed ...

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Defeat at Dogali, 1887

by Mitch on April 8, 2012 0 Comments

The battle of Dogali by Michele Cammarano.

The Negus Negasti Menelik II and his high command, in an engraving made at about the time of the battle of Adowa. While these men wear lion’s-mane headdresses and elaborately embroidered silk robes, and carry decorated shields, note that they are armed with rifles. Before March 1896 the Italians often mistook Ethiopian adherence to tradition for an inability to embrace useful technologies.


The Emperor Yohannes IV of Ethiopia resented being cut off from the sea by this new Italian incursion. Tensions arose, especially in 1887, when the Italians decided to strengthen their position by pushing inland and taking over the villages of Ua-à and Zula. The local lord, Ras Alula, demanded that the Italians leave, and when they failed to do so he gathered 25,000 warriors. On 25 January 1887 he attacked the fort at Saati, held by 167 Italians and ...

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Samoan Crisis (1889)

by Mitch on April 3, 2012 0 Comments

One beached warship (US Nipsic) being attended to by men in smaller boats, one almost submerged warship (US Vandalia) and one severely damaged warship (US Trenton) further out.

In March 1889 seven warships from three different countries had gathered in Apia, Samoa to claim political control there. The American ships were the Nipsic, Trenton and Vandalia. The German ships were the SMS Adler, SMS Eber and SMS Olga. The British were represented by the man-of-war HMS Calliope. On the 15th March a hurricane struck, trapping the American and German ships in the harbour. Calliope managed to steam her way out to sea early on the 16th March. All three German ships sank, as did the Trenton and Vandalia. Nipsic, though severely damaged, managed to beach and survive the storm.


A three-cornered diplomatic confrontation, involving competing American, British, and German claims to the Samoan Islands in the South Pacific west of ...

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The Dreadful British Empire

by Mitch on April 2, 2012 0 Comments

Richard Gott. Britain's Empire: Resistance, Repression and Revolt. New York: Verso Books, 2011. 480 pp. $34.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-1-84467-738-2.

Kwasi Kwarteng. Ghosts of Empire: Britain's Legacies in the Modern World. New York: PublicAffairs, 2012. 488 pp. $29.99 (cloth), ISBN 978-1-61039-120-7.

Reviewed by Richard N. Price (University of Maryland, College Park)
Published on H-Empire (April, 2012)
Commissioned by Charles V. Reed

The Dreadful British Empire

In Britain, the British Empire has always been the subject of soulsearching debate.  From the moment that it began to dawn on the British that they had an empire--from about the middle of the eighteenth century--its character, virtues, and faults have consistently occupied a central place in public discourse.  These two books fall into the well-established tradition of critics of empire, although from the attention they have received in the popular press in the United Kingdom, one could be forgiven for assuming ...

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Iwao Oyama, (1842–1916)

by Mitch on April 2, 2012 0 Comments

General Ōyama Iwao during the Russo-Japanese War

A Japanese soldier and hero of the Meiji period, Oyama was born into a samurai family and served in the Boshin War of 1868–1969, which overthrew the Tokugawa Shōgunate, and also in the Satsuma Rebellion of 1877. In the interim he attended the École Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr in France and witnessed France’s defeat in the Franco-Prussian War; he also studied foreign languages in Geneva and achieved fluency in Russian. After promotion to major general, Oyama was a key figure in the establishment of the Imperial Japanese Army that routed the Satsuma rebels. He commanded the Second Army in the Sino-Japanese War and captured Port Arthur and the fortress of Weihaiwei. Oyama was promoted to the rank of field marshal and, as chief of general staff in 1904, appealed successfully to the emperor for permission to go to war against Russia ...

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The Arrow War

by Mitch on April 2, 2012 0 Comments

A Royal Navy force defeated a flotilla of Chinese war junks during the Battle of Fatshan Creek, before the Second Opium War.

In the midst of the domestic turmoil that accompanied the Taiping Rebellion, piracy increased dramatically; often, whether true or not, these pirates claimed political allegiance with the Taipings. In January 1856, the British instituted a scheduled north–south convoy system, sending a well-armed man-of-war with the British merchant ships. Chinese-owned ships registered in Hong Kong were also allowed to join the convoy and fly the British flag. By doing so, these Chinese-owned ships tacitly gained the same extraterritorial rights and protections from Manchu intervention as other British ships along the China coast. This decision soon led to conflict with Manchu authorities, who insisted that all Chinese-owned ships remain under the administrative authority of China.


On 8 October 1856, Guangzhou police boarded a Chinese-owned, but Hong Kong-registered, ship called ...

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