Recommended books on German Colonies & Overseas Expediti

Discussions on all aspects of the German Colonies and Overseas Expeditions. Hosted by Chris Dale.
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Gew71
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Post by Gew71 » 08 Feb 2007 20:54

I read it a few months back.I thought it was pretty good.

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 09 Mar 2007 14:16


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Gew71
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Post by Gew71 » 09 Mar 2007 18:45

I'm about a third of the way through that one now.I tend to agree with the Economist reviewer.

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Post by Utrecht » 10 Mar 2007 04:14

According to the reviews I've read 'Tip and Run' mainly focuses on the war in East-Africa. Aren't the other fronts discussed at all?

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Post by Utrecht » 08 Aug 2007 12:18

Utrecht wrote:According to the reviews I've read 'Tip and Run' mainly focuses on the war in East-Africa. Aren't the other fronts discussed at all?


Anybody able to post a review of 'Tip and Run'?

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Ranke
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Re: Recommended books on German Colonies & Overseas Expediti

Post by Ranke » 25 Jun 2008 02:58

Isabel Hull's Absolute Destruction, is indispensable for any understanding of German military activity in Africa.

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Chris Dale
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Re: Recommended books on German Colonies & Overseas Expediti

Post by Chris Dale » 25 Jun 2008 16:13

Hi Ranke,
In what way is it indispensable? Can you tell us more about it? I've not seen it before.
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Chris

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Re: Recommended books on German Colonies & Overseas Expediti

Post by Ranke » 30 Jun 2008 23:18

Hi Chris,
Hull's book "is a study of institutional extremism. It examines the German conduct of war from 1870 through 1918." She focuses really on two major conflicts: the Herero War and WWI.
By analysing the institutional culture of the German military, she explains how and why the German military "resorted to terrific violence and destruction in excess of Germany's own security requirements or political goals, in contravention of international norms, and even contrary to ultimate military effectiveness." Her analysis of the war in SWA, which is based on an incredible array of primary sources, reveals among other things that the lack of civilian oversight of the military and Germany's constitutional arrangement contributed greatly to military extremism (and genocide in SWA).
Hull also makes clear that colonial wars cannot be simply viewed in isolation from European conflicts. The same goals and problems shaped the German war effort in 1914, for instance, lack of proper strategy, lack of civilian oversight of the military, the demand for total military victory (Vernichtungskrieg). While the book does suggest that Germany did follow a "special path" or "Sonderweg," and hence might be discredited somewhat for this very reason, Hull provides much evidence to show that the basic assumptions governing the German military (its military culture) were fundamentally different from other western nations, for instance with regard to international law, and that the German constitution created such a special position for the military that if functioned essentially as a state within a state. In these regards, Germany does indeed appear to be different. Although the book is not strictly a history of German colonies, she does an outstanding job relating the conflicts in Africa and China (the Boxer Rebellion) to broader developments in Germany.

My comments are disjointed and don't do justice to the book, but it is definitely worth reading.

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Re: Recommended books on German Colonies & Overseas Expediti

Post by Utrecht » 01 Jul 2008 22:30

Nice summary Ranke. Looks like a very interesting book to me!

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Re: Recommended books on German Colonies & Overseas Expediti

Post by Ranke » 03 Jul 2008 05:26

Cheers Utrecht.
I came across this the other day. I haven't read it yet, but found this review of it.

Arne Perras, Carl Peters and German Imperialism, 1856-1918: A Political Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004.

The Review is from The Journal of Modern History 78 (June 2006): 521–522]



This is an excellent and much-needed account of the career of Carl Peters, a key figure in the history of German colonialism best known for his expedition in 1884-85 that led to the annexation of German East Africa. Even though many historians and popular authors mention Peters, no remotely adequate account of his life existed before the publication of this book. The genre of biography allows Arne Perras to draw together the diverse activities of his subject: his philosophical publications on Schopenhauer and Darwin, his colonial agitation in Germany, his East African expeditions, his quest for a political career as an anti-English pan-German. Peters's penchant for misrepresentation has led many historians to dismiss him as an eccentric, but, as Perras shows, Peters was taken seriously by his contemporaries. Peters's and his admirers' mythmaking as well as critical historians' irritation with his cruelty and duplicity have until now made for a blurry portrait in the historiography. Perras has taken it upon himself to offer a reliable narrative that addresses myths and disputes, and he clarifies confusing episodes such as the circumstances of Peters's four sojourns in East Africa and his trial and libel suits in the 1890s and 1900s. The book is clearly written and concise. Perras presents evidence compactly and follows up promptly with his own conclusions, thereby keeping his story close to the sources. His judgment is unfailingly sound.

Perras sets for himself three goals: to use all relevant available primary and published sources by and about Peters (which no one has done before), to demonstrate that Peters was a key figure in the history of Wilhelmine nationalism, and to show how that nationalism exhibited strong continuities over the nineteenth century and strong connections to procolonial agitation. Perras examines Peters's writings to show that “Carl Peters's colonial ideology was essentially nationalist” (10). Rather than believing that the flag followed trade, Peters insisted that political measures (annexation) would produce colonial wealth. Peters's priorities were to expand German national communities abroad and to direct German emigration away from foreign states (39-41). Perras points out that, unlike existing colonial organizations, Peters's Society for German Colonization did not depend on “established overseas interests” for its founding in 1884. Rather, Peters's group was “mainly supported by emigration enthusiasts and ardent nationalists” (49). Too often historians of German nationalism set aside the colonial movement in their work, seeing it as a separate phenomenon; they should read this book. With an illuminating account of Bismarck's decision to uphold Peters's fraudulent claims to land in East Africa (chaps. 2 and 3), Perras lends support to the argument of Geoff Eley and others that nationalism in the German Empire was an authentic popular movement to which Bismarck responded, not a product of his manipulation.

Perras strictly limits his undertaking to the genre of political biography, providing only the barest information on Peters's family or personal life. Given that Peters's complex career unfolded amid so many important political and cultural currents, Perras could have paused at several points to provide some background or context, but he refrains from doing so (e.g., on political antisemitism, when stating Peters's own limited interest in that movement [32, and elsewhere]). Given that nationalist ideology is so central to Perras's story, he might have discussed which works in the now-extensive theoretical literature on nationalism he has found illuminating. However, he restricts himself to the briefest references to A. D. Smith and to W. Bloom (92-93). Perras's argument about the fundamental place of nationalist ideology in the story of German colonial annexations and colonialist politics nonetheless comes through loud and clear. And as Perras does not make any claims about the nature of Bismarckian or Wilhelmine society generally, his strict focus on Peters rather than on Peters's environment does no damage to his project. At times, though, I wished for a broader contextualization. When Perras argues, for example, that Peters's career was destroyed not simply because of embarrassing revelations in the Reichstag that he had killed an African man and woman out of sexual jealousy but, specifically, because Peters had boasted on several occasions that his sexual relationship with the executed woman was a “Muslim” or “African” marriage, he drives home the irony that even anticolonial critics of Peters adopted an uncritically racist and uninformed notion of such marriages (216, 218, 230, 258). Perras does not place this event in any wider context of racist consensus in Wilhelmine society.

Furthermore, Perras's footnotes are extremely economical. The text itself hardly engages any secondary literature beyond works by Hans-Ulrich Wehler, Geoff Eley, Hartmut Pogge von Strandmann, and Hans Fenske and a couple of less-than-stellar publications specifically on Peters. While it is true that little has been written on Peters himself, the political movements and cultural phenomena with which he was associated have been the subject of many good studies.

Perras does permit himself to step beyond the strict boundaries of political biography to consider Peters's reputation after his death in 1918, during the Weimar, Nazi, and post-1945 periods, in two brief chapters. These are more pointers toward possible future work than they are the type of definitive accounts offered in preceding chapters; there is much more to be said about the post-1945 reception of German colonial history as illustrated through debates over Peters. There are a few minor errors: for example, Countess Pfeil was the sister, not wife, of Joachim Pfeil (82); some Germanisms creep into the otherwise outstandingly clean English prose (e.g., “overall” for “everywhere” [63]); and there are typographical errors, often in names (Hebers for Herbers [122], Poggellow for Poggelow [227]). The index needed another going-over to smooth out the differences between German and English; for example, it lists different page-number entries under “Gesellschaft für deutsche Kolonisation” and “Society for German Colonization,” without any cross-reference. But these objections do not detract from Perras's achievement. With this book he has done a real service to scholars of German history and colonialism.
By Lora Wildenthal
Rice University

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Post by USS ALASKA » 23 Jul 2008 02:09

cj wrote: But my big question is wheather or not Lettow-Vorbeck wrote his memoirs?, and if he did are they obtainable in English?


This one sir?

http://www.amazon.com/Reminiscences-Eas ... 163&sr=1-1

USS ALASKA

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Re: Recommended books on German Colonies & Overseas Expediti

Post by jwsleser » 31 Jan 2009 15:56

In response to a very old post by cj asking “I would love to hear about any books in English dealing with the siege of Tsing Tao.” There is:

The Japanese Siege of Tsingtau by Charles Burdick (1976). 273 pgs., Endpaper maps, 16 photographs.

A good study of the siege, Burdick extensively uses German sources and some official Japanese archive materials. The maps are serviceable, but not topographic; only simple relief. The forces involved are well detailed and the actions are described in some depth. The bibliography is an excellent place to start for further research and all the chapters are well endnoted. In the end, it was clear that the defenders were simply over matched and a unforced error (Redoubt 3) merely hastened the fall of the city, but was not the cause of the final defeat. In all, this book will satisfy all but the most dedicated researcher on the events and flow of this campaign.

Jeff
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Chris Dale
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Re: Recommended books on German Colonies & Overseas Expediti

Post by Chris Dale » 01 Feb 2009 00:09

Thanks for that review Jeff, I'll look out for it.

Cheers
Chris

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Re: Recommended books on German Colonies & Overseas Expediti

Post by jwsleser » 12 Feb 2009 05:20

The basic source for the operations of German warships overseas are the Kreuzerkrieg volumes from the German Naval Official History, Der Krieg zur See.

The first volume, Der Kreuzergeschwader, covers the operations of von Spee's East Asiatic Squadron. The book contains 10 anlage in a rear pocket, including a map of the German overseas wireless system (with its coverage), a data sheets on all the ships involved with the search for the squadron, and several detailed maps of the battles. A booklet shows the locations of all the major warships throughout the world at seven different times during the period covered in the book. There are seven additonal maps in the text. A handy chart on page 74 lists the German squadron's coal consumption by ship/speed/distance. The book provides a detailed narration of the operations of the ships between the outbreak of the war and their lost. The battles are accompained by silhouettes and data for the match-up of shipos for each battle (a nice touch).

Kreuzerkrieg-1.jpg


The second volume, Die Tätigkeit der kleinen kreuzer “Emden”, “Königsberg” und “Karlsruhe”, covers the operations of the detached cruisers; Emden, Königsberg, Karlsruhe and Geier (the latter is covered in an appendix). There are eight charts and maps, and two photo sets with before and after the fight photos of the Emden and Königsberg in the rear pocket, and five maps in the text. The map of the Königsberg - Pegasus action is the only one I have seen of that particular battle. There is a detailed map of the port of Dar-es-Salam and Emden's action against Madras.

Kreuzerkrieg-2.jpg


These two volumes are notable due to their author; Captain Erich Raeder. The third volume in the Kreuzerkrieg set on the merchant cruisers was written by Vice Admiral Mantey.

These books are recommended as they are a prime source for much of the information found in modern works on these ships, but offer many little details not found anyhwere else.

Jeff
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Re: Recommended books on German Colonies & Overseas Expediti

Post by Chris Dale » 16 May 2009 23:38

Here's a book that was just pointed out to me about German forts in DSWA....

http://www.fortress-books.com/uk/fortre ... 66560&page

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Chris

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