The Last Hot Battle of the Cold War: South Africa vs. Cuba in the Angolan Civil War

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Casemate Publishers, Dec 13, 2013 - History - 232 pages
As the Soviet Union teetered on the edge of collapse during the late 1980s, and America prepared to claim its victory, a bloody war still raged in Southern Africa, where proxy forces from both sides vied for control of Angola. The result was the largest battle on the dark continent since Al Alamein, with forces from both sides paying in blood what U.S.-Soviet diplomats were otherwise spending in diplomacy. The socialist government of Angola and its army, FAPLA, fully stocked with Soviet weapons, had only to wipe out a massive resistance group, UNITA, secretly supplied by the U.S, in order to claim full sovereignty over the country. A giant FAPLA offensive so threatened to succeed in overcoming UNITA that apartheid-era South Africa stepped in to protect its own interests. The white army crossing the border prompted the Angolan government to call on their own foreign reinforcements—the army of Communist Cuba’s. Thus began the epic battle of Cuito Cuanavale, largely unknown in the U.S., but which raged for three months in the entirely odd match-up of South African Boers vs. Castro’s armed forces, which for the first time in the Cold War proved what it could achieve. And it turned out the Cubans were very good. The South Africans were no slouches at warfare themselves, but had suffered under a boycott of weapons since 1977. The Cubans and Angolan troops, instead, had the latest Soviet weapons, easily delivered. But UNITA had its secret U.S. supply line and the South Africans knew how to fight, mainly at a disadvantage in air power for lack of spare parts. Meantime the Cubans overcame their logistic difficulties with an impressive airlift of troops over the Atlantic, while the Boers simply needed to drive next door. As a case study of ferocious fighting between East and West—albeit proxies for the great powers on all sides—this book unveils a remarkable episode of the end-game of the Cold War largely unknown to the public. The Angolans on both sides suffered heavily, but it was the apartheid South Africans versus Castro’s armed forces that provides utter fascination in one of history’s rare match-ups.

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User Review  - Shrike58 - LibraryThing

While containing a great deal of interesting background material, this book really doesn't put the battle of Cuito Cuanavale into any great context, either in terms of the South African campaign to ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - LamSon - LibraryThing

A disappointing book. The writing was very choppy and unclear. I'm not very sure about the final outcome of the battle. Read full review


Cuito CuanavaleAn Overview
the Cuban Forces
the South African Forces
the FAPLA Soviet Advisors
the Angolan UNItA
General Ben
the Retreat
the Siege ofCuito Cuanavale
Casualties ofthe Battle of Cuito Cuanavale
Appendix CU S S R Forces

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About the author (2013)

Peter Polack was born in Jamaica in 1958 where he attended various schools including Jamaica College until 1972 when he went to Denstone College boarding school in England. He is a proud graduate of the University of the West Indies and Norman Manley Law School. Whilst at UWI he was co-founder of the Amnesty International campus group and a member of the Union of Democratic Students. A lawyer in the Cayman Islands since 1983,he resides there with his wife and two daughters. He was a former rapporteur of the International Bar Association, Co-Founder and first Treasurer Caymanian Bar Association. His only hobby but not a current interest is combat pistol shooting. In July 2005 he organized a Cuba relief shipment after Hurricane Dennis from generous donors of the Cayman Islands. He is a contributing editor for Encyclopaedia of Warfare to be published by Amber Books.His research led to first international release of a list of Cuban casualties of the Angola War published in the Miami Herald 20 February 2010.Inspired by the book he is to exhibit his first work as an artist entitled The Confinement Assemblage at the Cayman Islands National Gallery in May 2013.

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