A Military History of Africa
[3 volumes]
by Timothy J. Stapleton
October 2013, 977pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
3 volumes, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-313-39569-7
$204, £157, 178€, A280
eBook Available: 978-0-313-39570-3
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Colonial rule led to a drastic reinvention of African military culture.

A detailed and thorough chronological overview of the history of warfare and military structures in Africa, covering ancient times to the present day.

A Military History of Africa achieves a daunting task: it synthesizes decades of specialized academic research and literature—including the most recent material—to offer an accessible survey of Africa’s military history, from the earliest times to the present day. The first volume examines the precolonial period beginning with warfare in ancient North Africa including ancient Egypt and Carthage and continues through the cavalry-based Muslim empires of the trans-Sahara trade and the wars of the slave trade in West and East Africa. The second volume focuses on the wars of European colonial conquest and African resistance during the late 19th century, African participation in both world wars, and the early violent struggles for independence from the 1950s and early 1960s. The third volume explores warfare in postcolonial Africa, including coverage of the impact of the global Cold War, conflicts in Southern Africa from the 1960s to 1980s, the development of postcolonial African armed forces, and civil wars sparked by the discovery of precious resources, such as diamonds in Sierra Leone. Readers of this three-volume work will understand how warfare and military structures have been consistently central to the development of African societies.


  • Provides a complete introduction of Africa's military history that is accessible to general readers without specialized knowledge
  • Supplies illuminating accounts of Africa's most important military leaders, from Hannibal of ancient Carthage to Queen Nzinga of 17th-century Angola to Paul Kagame of contemporary Rwanda
  • Portrays Africa within the context of a global perspective that portrays the continent's existence as an intrinsic part of a wider world, not as an isolated "dark continent"
  • Includes a comprehensive reading list at the end of each of the three volumes for conducting additional research
Timothy J. Stapleton is professor of history at Trent University in Ontario, Canada. Previously he taught at Rhodes University and the University of Fort Hare in South Africa and was a research associate at the University of Zimbabwe and the University of Botswana. His published books include Maqoma: Xhosa Resistance to Colonial Advance, 1798–1873; Faku: Rulership and Colonialism in the Mpondo Kingdom (c.1780–1867); No Insignificant Part: The Rhodesia Native Regiment and the East African Campaign of the First World War; A Military History of South Africa: From the Dutch-Khoi Wars to the End of Apartheid; and African Police and Soldiers in Colonial Zimbabwe, 1923–80.


2014 Outstanding Academic TItle—Choice, January 1, 2015


"There have been numerous studies of the many wars fought in Africa, ranging from ancient Carthage against Rome to the colonial period to the post-Cold War era. However, there have been few attempts at a single work of comprehensive African military history. Stapleton has succeeded in this endeavor with this superbly written and exhaustively researched set. . . . Recommended."—Choice, May 28, 2014
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