In This Review

Empire and Jihad: The Anglo-Arab Wars of 1870–1920
Empire and Jihad: The Anglo-Arab Wars of 1870–1920
By Neil Faulkner
Yale University Press, 2021, 440 pp

The history of British exploration of East Africa and southern Africa and the eventual British colonial conquest of Sudan has already been well covered in academic and popular works. But Faulkner does provide a new, comprehensive analysis of less familiar but still important military engagements in Egypt, Somalia, and Sudan. In addition, he reframes the history to show how the economic institution of slavery shaped the local response to European encroachment in the region. Faulkner claims that the predatory colonialism of the late nineteenth century pitted the “coolie capitalism of European empires”—how European powers hunted for new markets to help drag their domestic economies out of recession—against the local “slave systems of Middle Eastern potentates,” which relied on the substantial profits of the East African slave trade and fought back against British attempts to end it. The book is also highly readable, stuffed with sharp descriptions of key events and with vivid portrayals of the (mostly) men behind them.