The World’s War: Forgotten Soldiers of Empire

The World’s War: Forgotten Soldiers of EmpireThe World's War by David Olusoga
ISBN: 978-1-7818-5897-4
Published by Head of Zeus on August 1, 2014
Genres: Strategic Studies
Pages: 432

Winner of the (UK) Political Book Awards 2015 World War One Book of the Year

This is a very good book. Olusoga rightly demonstrates that World War One was a multi-racial, multi-imperial conflict, waged in Asia and Africa as well as on better known fronts. This point has been largely downplayed by previous historians who inaccurately depict the war as “all white.” Olusoga argues that what made the 1914-1918 conflict a “world” war was that it pulled in men and resources from across the globe. This was primarily due to the fact that most of the major Western combatant countries possessed large overseas empires comprising millions of Asian and African subjects. Even the US—that did not—deployed thousands of its racially-downtrodden African-American population in the war. The harrowing story of the nearly 140,000 Chinese laborers on the Western Front is finally told.

Written as a vigorous narrative that mercifully avoids boring academic locution, Olusoga reveals the story of four million non-European, non-white participants in “the war that will end war.” This book deserves a place in every World War One buff’s library. Its 63 telling illustrations are a treat.

Reviewed by Chandar Sundaram, author of the article on the Indian Expeditionary Force in WWOI #6