War of Intervention in Angola (Volume 1: Angolan and Cuban Forces at War, 1975-1976)

Angolan war pictureOver time, a more comprehensive picture began emerging, indicating that a series of three successive wars were fought in Angola in the period from 1961 until 2002. The first of these- variously known as the ‘Angolan War of Independence’, or ‘I Angolan War’- went on from 1961 until 1974, saw insurgencies by multiple Angolan nationalist movements fighting against the Portuguese colonial rule. It ended with the Portuguese withdrawal and nominal independence of Angola. Even before that conflict was over, a ‘civil’ war erupted between three major Angolan insurgent movements and their foreign backers. Lasting until 1992, and including military interventions by Cuba and South Africa, and discrete meddling by the United States of America (USA) and even China, this war is colloquially known as ‘II Angolan War.’”

Out of Africa’s twentieth century wars, this book reconstructs the story of a war that seems to have been too little documented over the last decades. From the analysis of the situation of Angola in the 1960s (in the larger context of the Cold War) to a detailed overview of the allied troops in 1975-1976, this historic insight concentrates more on Operation Carlotta, or the intervention of Cuban forces, during these years.

The analyses also help us understand the complex situation of many African countries at the time who, after independence, went through civil wars, alimented by long-term local rivalries and interests. With a detailed insight on the Angolan context, over 100 rare pictures, and its historical past, especially the period of the Portuguese rule, the authors give the reader a wide perspective on a complex historical phenomenon engaging several internal parties and coalitions as well as several foreign military forces.

Adrien Fontanellaz and Tom Cooper’s book is an interesting and enriching reading, destined not only to historians, but also to non specialists who want to understand one of the most complex historical events in the mid- twentieth century Africa, as well as its implications outside Angola. More than history, War of Intervention in Angola is food for thought.

War of Intervention in Angola by Adrien Fontanellaz and Tom Cooper

978-1911628194 / Helion and Company, Africa@War Series, August 15, 2018.

Review by Ioana Danaila

Ioana Danaila was born in Romania. She graduated from University Lyon 2 Lumière with a Masters in African Postcolonial Literature and a First degree in French for Non-Francophone people. She published a collection of short stories and translated books from French to Romanian. She speaks Romanian, French, English, and Spanish, and teaches English language and literature to highschool students in France.

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