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The Ethiopian-Eritrean Wars, Volume 1

The Ethiopian-Eritrean Wars, Volume 1 Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review July 2018 Title The Ethiopian-Eritrean Wars, Volume 1
Author Tom Cooper, Adrien Fontanellaz Publisher Helion
Published 2018 ISBN 9781912390298
Format 64 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $29.95


Domestic strife and insurgencies – fueled, partially, by endemic corruption – led to the collapse of the Ethiopia's Imperial government in 1974. Chaos and power struggles ensued. And by 1977, authors Tom Cooper and Adrien Fontanellaz report, the country "was facing multiple and massive threats to its integrity and sovereignty."

That's the background of Ethiopian-Eritrean Wars, Volume 1: Eritrean War of Independence, 1961-1988 – 29th in Helion's splendid "Africa@War" series.

Available in North America from Casemate, format follows the publisher's proven prescription. And it ably augments Harpia's admirable Wings Over Ogaden: The Ethiopian-Somali War 1978-1979 – also an "Africa@War" title.

After a brief introduction, contents commence with two chapters on historical and cultural antecedents and catalysts. A third spotlights Eritrean and Tigrayan insurgencies. And a fourth recaps Ethiopia's military in the 1970s and 1980s.

Contents swiftly segue to combat. And the next three chapters competently and chronologically chart combat.

Cooper and Fontanellaz mine records for some truly fascinating facts. Did you know that SAAB B.17 dive bombers, originally acquired from Sweden in 1947, remained in service until 1977?

The extensively annotated, lavishly illustrated effort includes dozens of rare photos – including one of an ex-South Yemeni MiG-17 in Imperial Ethiopian insignia! Note: that's "Imperial". And 24 color profiles – 18 aircraft by co-author Cooper and six armor by David Bocquelet – offer modelers plenty of project inspiration.

But gremlins occasionally skulk this otherwise excellent account.

I think that's Caproni Ca.111 – not Ca.11. The "IEA" glossary entry should signify "Imperial Ethiopian Army". The glib phrase "Leninist pattern of democratic centralism" beggars belief. And why superscript Italian aircraft designations?

Four maps also chart actions. But Harpia's grayscale graphics can prove difficult to decipher. Some details display only minor tonal variations. And they depict local theater operations without broader geographic perspective. Were they originally to be reproduced in color?

Annotations can sow confusion, too. Co-author Cooper, for instance, penned or – partially penned – three of the book's bibliography listings. So which does endnote 18 reference? Ditto for Fantahun Ayele's and Dan Connell's three citations each. To which do endnotes 40 and 74 respectively refer?

None of this really diminishes the value of this superb survey of the largest post-WWII conventional war fought on the continent of Africa. And I eagerly await the sequel.

Robustly recommended!

With thanks to Casemate Publishing for the review copy!