Distant Drums: The Role of Colonies in British Imperial Warfare

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Apollo Books, 2010 - History - 339 pages
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Distant Drums reveals how the colonies were central to the defense of the British Empire and the command of the oceans that underpinned it. Now in paperback, Distant Drums blends sweeping overviews of the nature of imperial defense with grassroots explanations of how individual colonies were mobilized for war, drawing on the author's specialist knowledge of the Indian Ocean and colonies, such as Bechuanaland, Ceylon, Mauritius, and Swaziland. This permits the full and dramatic range of action involved in imperial warfare to be viewed as part of an interconnected whole, from policy-makers and military planners in Whitehall to chiefs recruiting soldiers in African villages. After examining the martial reasons for acquiring colonies, the book considers the colonial role in the First World War. It then turns to the Second World War, documenting the recruitment of colonial soldiers, their manifold roles in British military formations, and the impact of war upon colonial home fronts. It reveals the problems associated with the use of colonial troops far from home and the networks used to achieve the mobilization of a global empire, such as those formed by colonial governors and regional naval commanders. Distant Drums is an important contribution to the understanding of the role of British colonies in 20th-century warfare. The defense of empire has traditionally been associated with the military endeavors of Britain and the 'white' Dominions, with the Indian Army sometimes in the background. This book champions the crucial role played by the other parts of the British Empire - the 60 or so colonies spread across the globe - in delivering victory during both World Wars.

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About the author (2010)

Ashley Jackson is forging a reputation as a leading historian of the British Empire and World War II. After eight years at Mansfield College, Oxford he moved to King's College London in 2004, where he is now Professor of Imperial and Military History. His third book, The British Empire and the Second World War, appeared to critical acclaim in 2006. He is currently writing Ocean Victory: Britain's Eastern War, 1939–1945 and a biography of Winston Churchill. His latest book, Mad Dogs and Englishmen: A Grand Tour of the British Empire at its Height, is published by Quercus.

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