The Battle of Adwa: African Victory in the Age of Empire by Raymond Jonas - review by Bertrand Taithe

Bertrand Taithe

Of Arms & Menelik

The Battle of Adwa: African Victory in the Age of Empire


Harvard University Press/Belknap Press 413pp £22.95 order from our bookshop

The Battle of Adwa is a compelling political narrative of one of the most important events of the late nineteenth-century imperial era: the catastrophic defeat of the Italian army against the levy of the Negus Menelik II, king of kings of Ethiopia. Raymond Jonas has written a riveting book that brings together the fates of nations and the stories of dozens of fascinating characters.

Menelik, Ras of Shoa in southern Ethiopia, had risen to prominence after the death of Yohannes IV in 1889, and was crowned later that year. He was married to Taytu, a powerful woman from Tigray, where most rulers of Ethiopia had originated. Menelik and Taytu were, according to Jonas, ‘one

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