The First Victory
The Second World War and the East Africa Campaign
Imprint: Yale University Press
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.
“A riveting new account of the long-overlooked achievement of British-led forces who, against all odds, scored the major Allied victory of the Second World War… 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, Army Rumour Service
“Stewart’s engagingly written narrative goes far towards correcting the obscurity that has lingered over this important theatre of the Second World War. Communicated in lively prose and rich in anecdotes, the book will surely reach a wide audience both within the academy and beyond. . . [it] will be welcome as a comprehensive introduction to the East Africa campaign, and will certainly be useful to historians of the British, Italian, Indian and African militaries.”—Dr Oliver Coates, Journal of Military History
'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