The French Army and Its African Soldiers


The French Army and Its African Soldiers

The Years of Decolonization

Ruth Ginio

France Overseas: Studies in Empire and Decolonization Series

282 pages
5 illustrations, 2 tables, index


January 2017


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eBook (EPUB)
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January 2017


$60.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

January 2017


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About the Book

As part of France’s opposition to the independence of its former colonies in the years following World War II, its army remained deeply invested in preventing the decolonization of the territories comprising French West Africa (FWA). Even as late as the 1950s, the French Army clung to the hope that it was possible to retain FWA as a colony, believing that its relations with African soldiers could offer the perfect model for continued ties between France and its West African territories.
In The French Army and Its African Soldiers Ruth Ginio examines the French Army’s attempts to win the hearts and souls of the local population at a time of turbulence and uncertainty regarding future relations between the colonizer and colony. Through the prism of the army’s relationship with its African soldiers, Ginio considers how the army’s activities and political position during FWA’s decolonization laid the foundation for France’s continued active presence in some of these territories after independence. This project is the first thorough examination of the French Army’s involvement in West Africa before independence and provides the essential historical background to understanding France’s complex postcolonial military relations with its former territories in Africa.


Author Bio

Ruth Ginio is an associate professor in the Department of History and is the head of the Inter-University Program for African Studies at Ben Gurion University of the Negev. She is the author of French Colonialism Unmasked: The Vichy Years in French West Africa (Nebraska, 2006) and the coeditor (with Efrat Ben Ze’ev and Jay Winter) of Shadows of War: A History of Silence in the Twentieth Century.


"The French Army and Its African Soldiers provides an innovative analysis of the late colonial years with incisive discussion of their legacy, enriching a growing field of scholarship."—Elisabeth Fink, H-France

"Ginio's work makes a critical contribution to several fields."—Gillian Glaes, Journal of Social History

"An important read for anyone interested in contemporary Africa, an essential one for diplomatic and military personnel working in the region."—A. A. Nofi, Strategy Page

"Through a thorough examination of the protracted role played by the French Army, Ginio convincingly demonstrates how France had heavily invested in preventing the decolonization from being fulfilled in West Africa."—Claudy Delné, French Review

"A welcome addition to the literature on French decolonization, specifically in FWA. It complicates the chronology and perspective on the decolonization process, highlights the army’s role in it, and sheds light on the interests of West African veterans and soldiers in this process."—Raffael Scheck, Journal of Modern History

"In her persuasively argued book, Ruth Ginio provides a well-written and richly documented account of the political roles of the French army, and its African soldiers, in French West Africa (AOF) during the period of decolonization."—Brian Peterson, International Journal of African Historical Studies

“A key study in French colonialism, colonial Africa, and the French Army. With this book the vast region of West Africa gets its due, as do the famous and important indigenous soldiers recruited in this region.”—Richard Fogarty, author of Race and War in France: Colonial Subjects in the French Army, 1914–1918

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations    
List of Abbreviations    
1. Historical Background: The Army, the Empire, and the Decolonization of French West Africa    
2. The Aftermath of World War II: Frustration, Protest, and Rebellion    
3. The Military Reforms: A New Army in French West Africa?    
4. African Troops in the Wars of Decolonization: Indochina, 1946–1954    
5. African Troops in the Wars of Decolonization: Algeria, 1954–1962    
6. Alternatives to Independence: The Army’s Colonial Vision in French West Africa    
7. Adjusting to a New Reality: The Army and the Imminent Independence    

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