Haile Selassie’s War

There are a number of excellent books that cover the period of The Abyssinian Crisis. To get an appreciation of the real Italo-Ethiopian war it is best to grab the Osprey MAA 140 title “The Italian Invasion of Abyssinia 1935-36” which is a solid start for determining who, where and what.

Following on from the brief but informative Osprey title the next book you will want is Haile Selassie’s War by Anthony Mockler. We are blessed with this book as it has much to offer the wargamer. It is written in a style that is informative, fast paced yet in-depth enough to provide good levels of detail on the military aspects of the Italo-Ethiopian War with many elements related to The Abyssinian Crisis counterfactual. What’s more, it’s a cracking good read!

Mockler, a former journalist for The Guardian, quite naturally takes a sympathetic view to the Ethiopian cause, but overall he deals out the most even-handed and thorough account currently available. The book also covers the 1941 war with the return of the Emperor, thereby providing a comprehensive treatment of the subject thus being able to better place it in its historical context.

Many of the military aspect rely on the Italian Angelo Del Boca’s book, The Ethiopian War, which despite its age is still a highly readable account (to be reviewed also). Mockler’s book gives a good narrative of the political and military events but nothing as detailed as the pure military accounts given by contemporary military authors who wrote of their time in Ethiopia. This book is more in the style of Antony Beevor’s Spanish Civil War in that military details are intertwined with the political story and background as well. There is still enough military history in it to sink your teeth into. He does a good job of integrating the European politick which formed much of the story of the Abyssinian War.

Of the 380 odd pages devoted to the story, 137 are specifically on the Italo-Ethiopian conflict of 1935-36. In some respects there isn’t enough detail on the war which forms the foundation of The Abyssinian Crisis counterfactual. That said, it still is valuable and enjoyable reading and a must have on this topic, with plenty of ‘tid-bits’ of detail to work off from a wargamer’s perspective. One small point that is not so good is the reproduction of the maps in the 2009 reprint edition. The maps are very good but not easily read, a poor quality reprint, and they let the book down a bit in this regard. It does include an excellent chronology and nice biographical note section that help keep track of the events and personalities in this less well known conflict.

You’ve probably guessed by now that this is THE book to have on the war for the most well-rounded and objective take on the events of the day and we are lucky Anthony Mockler has given us this title. There are other books that give better details but none give the whole story as well as Mockler’s Haile Selassie’s War – a must have.

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