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The Second World War forever altered the complexion of the British Empire. From Cyprus to Malaya, from Borneo to Suez, the dominoes began to fall within a decade of peace in Europe. Africa in the late 1940s and 1950s was energized by the grant of independence to India, and the emergence of a credible indigenous intellectual and political caste that was poised to inherit co The Second World War forever altered the complexion of the British Empire. From Cyprus to Malaya, from Borneo to Suez, the dominoes began to fall within a decade of peace in Europe. Africa in the late 1940s and 1950s was energized by the grant of independence to India, and the emergence of a credible indigenous intellectual and political caste that was poised to inherit control from the waning European imperial powers. The British on the whole managed to disengage from Africa with a minimum of ill feeling and violence, conceding power in the Gold Coast, Nigeria and Sierra Leone under an orderly constitutional process, and engaging only in the suppression of civil disturbances in Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia as the practicalities of a political hand over were negotiated. In Kenya, however, matters were different. A vociferous local settler lobby had accrued significant economic and political authority under a local legislature, coupled with the fact that much familial pressure could be brought to bear in Whitehall by British settlers of wealth and influence, most of whom were utterly irreconciled to the notion of any kind of political hand over. Mau Mau was less than a liberation movement, but much more than a mere civil disturbance. Its historic importance is based primarily on the fact that the Mau Mau campaign was one of the first violent confrontations in sub-Saharan Africa to take place over the question of the self-determination of the masses. It also epitomized the quandary suffered by the white settler communities of Africa who had been promised utopia in an earlier century, only to be confronted in a postwar world by the completely unexpected reality of black political aspiration. This book journeys through the birth of British East Africa as a settled territory of the Empire, and the inevitable politics of confrontation that emerged from the unequal distribution of resources and power. It covers the emergence and growth of Mau Mau, and the strategies applied by the British to confront and nullify what was in reality a tactically inexpert, but nonetheless powerfully symbolic black expression of political violence. That Mau Mau set the tone for Kenyan independence somewhat blurred the clean line of victory and defeat. The revolt was suppressed and peace restored, but events in the colony were nevertheless swept along by the greater movement of Africa toward independences, resulting in the eventual establishment of majority rule in Kenya in 1964. Peter Baxter is an author, amateur historian and African field, mountain and heritage travel guide. Born in Kenya and educated in Zimbabwe, he has lived and travelled over much of southern and central Africa. He has guided in all the major mountain ranges south of the equator, helping develop the concept of sustainable travel, and the touring of battlefield and heritage sites in East Africa. Peter lives in Oregon, USA, working on the marketing of African heritage travel as well as a variety of book projects. His interests include British Imperial history in Africa and the East Africa campaign of the First World War in particular. His first book was Rhodesia: Last Outpost of the British Empire; he has written several books in the [email protected] series, including France in Centrafrique, Selous Scouts, Mau Mau and SAAF's Border War.


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The Second World War forever altered the complexion of the British Empire. From Cyprus to Malaya, from Borneo to Suez, the dominoes began to fall within a decade of peace in Europe. Africa in the late 1940s and 1950s was energized by the grant of independence to India, and the emergence of a credible indigenous intellectual and political caste that was poised to inherit co The Second World War forever altered the complexion of the British Empire. From Cyprus to Malaya, from Borneo to Suez, the dominoes began to fall within a decade of peace in Europe. Africa in the late 1940s and 1950s was energized by the grant of independence to India, and the emergence of a credible indigenous intellectual and political caste that was poised to inherit control from the waning European imperial powers. The British on the whole managed to disengage from Africa with a minimum of ill feeling and violence, conceding power in the Gold Coast, Nigeria and Sierra Leone under an orderly constitutional process, and engaging only in the suppression of civil disturbances in Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia as the practicalities of a political hand over were negotiated. In Kenya, however, matters were different. A vociferous local settler lobby had accrued significant economic and political authority under a local legislature, coupled with the fact that much familial pressure could be brought to bear in Whitehall by British settlers of wealth and influence, most of whom were utterly irreconciled to the notion of any kind of political hand over. Mau Mau was less than a liberation movement, but much more than a mere civil disturbance. Its historic importance is based primarily on the fact that the Mau Mau campaign was one of the first violent confrontations in sub-Saharan Africa to take place over the question of the self-determination of the masses. It also epitomized the quandary suffered by the white settler communities of Africa who had been promised utopia in an earlier century, only to be confronted in a postwar world by the completely unexpected reality of black political aspiration. This book journeys through the birth of British East Africa as a settled territory of the Empire, and the inevitable politics of confrontation that emerged from the unequal distribution of resources and power. It covers the emergence and growth of Mau Mau, and the strategies applied by the British to confront and nullify what was in reality a tactically inexpert, but nonetheless powerfully symbolic black expression of political violence. That Mau Mau set the tone for Kenyan independence somewhat blurred the clean line of victory and defeat. The revolt was suppressed and peace restored, but events in the colony were nevertheless swept along by the greater movement of Africa toward independences, resulting in the eventual establishment of majority rule in Kenya in 1964. Peter Baxter is an author, amateur historian and African field, mountain and heritage travel guide. Born in Kenya and educated in Zimbabwe, he has lived and travelled over much of southern and central Africa. He has guided in all the major mountain ranges south of the equator, helping develop the concept of sustainable travel, and the touring of battlefield and heritage sites in East Africa. Peter lives in Oregon, USA, working on the marketing of African heritage travel as well as a variety of book projects. His interests include British Imperial history in Africa and the East Africa campaign of the First World War in particular. His first book was Rhodesia: Last Outpost of the British Empire; he has written several books in the [email protected] series, including France in Centrafrique, Selous Scouts, Mau Mau and SAAF's Border War.

31 review for Mau Mau: The Kenyan Emergency 1952-60

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    This slim volume was a well written overview of the Mau Mau uprising. It does include the personal experiences of many war books. It does give an unvarnished view of the uprising. It does include the racist overtones of some of the books written at the time, nor does it include the revisionist issues of failing to account for the context of the uprising in history. I enjoyed the read.

  2. 5 out of 5

    David Cuatt

    Good, but not great entry in the [email protected] series. It is of course hard to avoid a bias since source material is overwhelmingly by European whites rather than the largely illiterate Mau Mau. But beyond that I never really felt like I was experiencing a conflict the way I did with other books in the series.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Donna Irving

  4. 4 out of 5

    Robin Prior

  5. 4 out of 5

    Joe Collins

  6. 5 out of 5

    António Laurel

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nathenael Goodenough

  8. 5 out of 5

    Doug Irvine

  9. 5 out of 5

    Dolores Manente

  10. 5 out of 5

    Dan

  11. 4 out of 5

    Nzioka Siwadie

  12. 5 out of 5

    Konstantinos Dervisis

  13. 4 out of 5

    Roger

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sly Reference

  15. 4 out of 5

    Colin Leidner

  16. 5 out of 5

    Claire

  17. 5 out of 5

    Brian

  18. 4 out of 5

    Blue

  19. 5 out of 5

    Heather G

  20. 4 out of 5

    Alex Kaggiri

  21. 4 out of 5

    malcolm cachie

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mike

  23. 4 out of 5

    Steve

  24. 4 out of 5

    Dan

  25. 4 out of 5

    Joe

  26. 4 out of 5

    Damian Patterson

  27. 5 out of 5

    name namingson

  28. 5 out of 5

    Garrett Eriksen

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jesus M. Pérez Triana

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jules

  31. 4 out of 5

    Cam Nelson

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