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Africa's Armies Africa's Armies
From Honor to Infamy
A History from 1791 to the Present
by Robert B. Edgerton

Westview Press
Hardcover | 344 pages | 0813339472 | November 2002


Africa's Armies traces the military history of sub-Saharan Africa from the pre-colonial era to the present. Robert Edgerton begins this sweeping chronicle by describing the role of African armies in pre-colonial times, when armed forces or militias were essential to the maintenance and prosperity of their societies. During the colonial era, African soldiers fought with death-defying courage, earning such respect as warriors that they were often recruited into the colonial armies not simply to enforce colonial rule in Africa, but to fight for the European homelands as well. After independence swept through Africa, African military men seized political power in country after country, ruling dictatorially for their own benefit and for that of their kinsmen and cronies. The author describes the post-colonial civil wars that have devastated much of sub-Saharan Africa - catastrophes marked by genocide, famine, disease, economic collapse, and steadily declining life expectancy. He closes by describing the role that Africa's military forces can and must play if the future is to bring better times to the continent's many peoples.

"Rarely does a single volume for all of pre-modern and contemporary Africa, provide so thorough an accounting for the basis for "Afro-pessimism" such as military dictatorship, corruption, gender inequality, HIV/AIDS while at the same time providing a hopeful analysis of post colonial success stories such as Botswana and Uganda. That this sober and hopeful accomplishment also chronicles lively descriptions of military institutions from the past to the present as a key for either pessimism or optimism today is where Edgerton's insight is profound."
- Philip L Kilbride, Professor of Anthropology and the Mary Hale Chase Chair of the Social Sciences and Social Work and Social Research, Bryn Mawr College


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