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African Kaiser: General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck and the Great War in Africa, 1914-1918
Publication Date: 2017-01-31
Number of pages: 448
“Let me say straight out that if all military histories were as thrilling and well written as Robert Gaudi’s African Kaiser, I might give up reading fiction and literary biography… Gaudi writes with the flair of a latter-day Macaulay. He sets his scenes carefully and describes naval and military action like a novelist. " --Michael Dirda, The Washington Post
The incredible true account of World War I in Africa and General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, the last undefeated German commander.
As World War I ravaged the European continent, a completely different theater of war was being contested in Africa. And from this very different kind of war, there emerged a very different kind of military leader....
At the beginning of the twentieth century, the continent of Africa was a hotbed of international trade, colonialism, and political gamesmanship. So when World War I broke out, the European powers were forced to contend with one another not just in the bloody trenches, but in the treacherous jungle. And it was in that unforgiving land that General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck would make history.
With the now-legendary Schutztruppe (Defensive Force), von Lettow-Vorbeck and a small cadre of hardened German officers fought alongside their fanatically devoted native African allies as equals, creating the first truly integrated army of the modern age.
African Kaiser is the fascinating story of a forgotten guerrilla campaign in a remote corner of Equatorial Africa in World War I; of a small army of ultraloyal African troops led by a smaller cadre of rugged German officers—of white men and black who fought side by side.
It is the story of epic marches through harsh, beautiful landscapes; of German officers riding bicycles to battle through the bush; of rhino charges and artillery duels with scavenged naval guns; of hunted German battleships hidden up unmapped river deltas teeming with crocodiles and snakes; of a desperate army in the wilderness cut off from the world, living off hippo lard and saw grass flowers—enduring starvation, malaria, and dysentery. And of the singular intercontinental voyage of Zeppelin L59, whose improbable four-thousand-mile journey to the equator and back made aviation history.
But mostly it is the story of von Lettow-Vorbeck—the only undefeated German commmander in the field during World War I and the last to surrender his arms.