Since the amazing resistance of the German colony in Tanganyika in the First World War is rarely covered in any kind of detail, Osprey's Men-at-Arms volume Armies in East Africa 1914-1918 is a welcome addition to the slim literature on that subject. While certainly not comprehensive, the author manages to pack a fair amount of data into less than fifty pages and is not distracted from his subject with trivia about collar piping or various types of footwear (a common flaw in the Men-at-Arms series). Instead, the author delivers a succinct summary of the campaign, with notes on equipment, organization, and uniforms. The best aspect of the volume is the considerable order of battle data provided on all combatants, included the usually neglected Belgian and Portuguese forces.
Armies in East Africa 1914-1918 is divided into short sections on the pre-war colonial forces in place (Germany, Britain, Belgium and Portugal), a campaign chronology, the campaign of 1914-1915, the 1916 Allied offensive, and then stalemate and pursuit in 1917. There are eight pages of color plates, covering the uniforms of all the combatant powers. The author also provides a surprisingly detailed bibliography, which readers may find quite useful.
The detail on Belgian and Portuguese forces provided is particularly welcome, since most sources virtually ignore non-Commonwealth participation in the war in East Africa. Portugal was unique in sending several large expeditionary forces from Europe to fight in East Africa, instead of relying on colonial troops as everyone else did. The author also details the rather self-inflated reputation of the South African troops, who initially disparaged the black German Askaris and even their Indian allies. Perhaps the only area that is slighted is the German ground unit formed from survivors from the cruiser Konigsberg, and the role of the cruiser's salvaged 4.7" guns (they are briefly mentioned and depicted in illustrations, but the fact that these naval troops performed poorly in bush warfare - not surprisingly - is not mentioned). Otherwise, Armies in East Africa 1914-1918 is a fine summary of one of the more unusual campaigns and adaptive commanders of the 20th Century.