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Mau-Mau Warrior

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Mau-Mau Warrior.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Abiodun Alao(Author) Christa Hook(Illustrator)

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The Mau-Mau uprising (1952-60) remains a controversial conflict, waged by warriors about whom many myths have been formed, but little truth has been written. Condemned by history as a brutal rag-tag force engaged in oath-taking, cannibalism and witchcraft, the military activities of the Mau-Mau have long been overlooked. Although their skill, organization and unique motivation forced the British government to undertake the longest airlift in military history, and to deploy extensive force at a cost of almost £60 million, before it could claim victory. This book reveals the real men and women behind the Mau-Mau; the truth behind the oaths that bound them together; and how they became a powerful force, paving the way for Kenya's independence.

Dr Abiodun Alao is with the School of Social Science and Public Policy, King's College London. He has written many books on African security. His latest book on natural resources and Conflict in Africa, titled The Tragedy of Endowment, is forthcoming. Christa Hook began her illustrating career in 1986. Her work has featured in the worlds of publishing and television, and she has established herself as one of Osprey's most popular illustrators. Her illustrations combine the historian's attention to detail with the artist's sense of drama and atmosphere, and they are sought after by collectors worldwide. She has had work selected for the Laing Land and Seascape Exhibition 2000 at the Mall, and the Not the Royal Academy Exhibition 2000 at the Llewellyn Alexander Gallery.

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Review Text

  • By Banguru on 30 January 2007

    It is hard to know whether or not it is the author or the editors that need to be chastised for this sloppy book. Osprey books are typically aimed at the military enthusiast who wants to have a good and reliable overview of the facts of a given military campaign, along with some useful data on uniforms, weapons, etc. What we have in this book is a combination of factual inaccuracy and half baked analysis.There are many examples of misspelling of name places (Delaware for Delamere, Kassarani for Kasarani; indeed, the street identified as Delaware Road on p 54 is in fact Government Road, now Moi Avenue) the misidentification of Tribal police as Home Guards (p43), and members of the Kenya Regiment misidentified as Kenya Police Reserve (p53). Other examples abound. One also wonders why so few pictures of mau mau are reproduced in the book; the plates in the centre of the book are a set of aethetically displeasing artist's illustrations.The term askari is bandied about throughout the book as though askaris were a separate category within the security forces; in fact, askari simply means 'armed man', and can apply to police, soldiers, home guards, private security guards, etc.All these errors can be attributed to bad editing, and may not be the author's responsibility. However, they speak of a volume that was prepared without care and requisite expertise.Abiodun Alao was a strange choice of author. He is Nigerian and an expert on modern conflict in West Africa. Why an expert on the Mau Mau was not sought for this book is baffling. This shortcoming is reflected in the bibliography, which (with the exception of Leakey) only cites books that are written from a pro-Mau Mau perspective and in some cases are notorious for their lack of accuracy.The entire book is thoroughly revisionist in tone. The author plays down the whole issue of the Mau Mau oaths, and writes off much of what has been well documented about these oaths as "clearly exaggerated" although he offers no evidence of exaggeration.In fairness to the author, he does emphasise the brutalities and atrocities on both sides, but in doing so he seems - to the current reviewer at least - to draw a moral equivalence between the Mau Mau and the security forces, and neglects to highlight the great oppression visited upon the Kikuyu tribe by the Mau Mau; much more needed to be said about the degree of resistance against Mau Mau demonstrated by the Kikuyu and others. Captions in the book claim that the home guard were most hated by the local population; no evidence is adduced for this claim, and no mention if made of the fact that there were more Kikuyu active in the home guard than there were in the Mau Mau forest gangs. Records show massed sweeps of up to 50,000 local people against the Mau Mau.On page 50, in a most bizarre and reprehensible passage, the author actually defends the use of the panga (machete) by the Mau Mau as a relatively humane way to kill people. The present reviewer has been attacked in Kenya by a bandit with a panga, and I can assure everyone that a panga is not a humane weapon! He appears to hold it to the Mau Mau's credit that they only burned 2-3% of their victims to death.Other small criticism can be made - factual errors such as claiming that the Home Guard were established in May 1953, when in fact it was March of that year. Similar errors can be seen in the renaming of the Kenya Regiment as the Kenyan Regiment, and the claim that the 4th and 6th KAR were primarily involved in fighting Mau Mau, whereas it was probably the 5th KAR that saw most action. These may seem like a trifling issues, but it reveals an author not in command of his subject.Writing books about a desperately contentious subject such as the Mau Mau calls for a firm grasp of the subject matter.A very weak addition to the Osprey Warrior series.

  • By Giulia on 15 October 2015

    This was a really interesting insight into the mind of someone inclined to the Mau Mau side. I spent two years in the Mt. Kenya Crown Forest fighting the Mau Mau as a tracker team leader in the KPR. We had little respect for the enemy because of the utterly foul murders they committed, against their fellow tribesmen. It's estimated the Mau Mau murdered over 8000 fellow Kikuyu and only 37 Europeans and Asians. No-one to this day has ever expressed repentence for killing so many innocent Kikuyu/Meru/Embu simply because they did not see the road to Independence needed to be a path of torture and slaughter. And no-one has campaigned to provide some last-minute financial compensation for the families who lost their principal breadwinners because of the Mau Mau murders.

  • By R. Harrison on 30 March 2011

    The Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya and the British response to it has been shrouded in controversy and myth. Most of what few books and articles on the subject have an agenda to promote of some sort. This makes getting to grips with even the basic idea of the events very difficult. This is why I found this book to be a refreshing change, its the closest to a neutral account I can find at present and like most books in the series concerns itself with historical accuracy above all and mostly delivers. The accounts and pictures are informative and cover most of the aspects of the conflict, like who where the Mau Mau and why did they fight? where did the fighting take place and what where there equipment and tactics? these questions are answered satisfactorily and its a shame that a more in depth work could not appear with a similar attitude.


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