Portugal's War In Angola
1961 to 1974
by W.S.van der Waals
Published in English by Ashanti Publishing (31 Dec 1993)
This volume is a complete chronicle of Portugal's war in Angola from 1961 to 1974, and of the demise of the Portuguese empire. It is a popular version of the author's doctoral thesis which dissects the events leading up to the armed insurrection of 1961 and the subsequent uprisings by the various national liberation movements, and proceeds to examine the nature of the war that was to end where yet another conflict was merely to begin. The book describes the period until 25 April 1974, and provides a background for the analysis and comprehension of subsequent and present events in Angola. The nature and development of the war, with all its tragic repercussions, is also a case study in revolutionary warfare. It was ultimately to become a war atrition that Portugal could never win, despite her gradual ascendancy on the battlefield. As Portugal lost control over the process of decolonization, Angola was to be left to the icy machinations of the Cold War that had come to the region with a vengeance. At a time when Angola is once again a dark stain on the African continent, embroiled in renewed bloody civil war, this book should provide insight into that long-ago conflict in which the fathers of the Angolan and Portuguese youth fought, and show the pointlessness of the present bout of fighting.
Kiwi (Mississauga, Ontario Canada
The author of this book served for 33 years in the South Afrikan Defence Forces as a paratrooper, unit commander, intelligence analyst, strategic planner, Defence Attache to Paraguay in the 80's and as Vice-Consul at the South African Consulate-General in Luanda (Angola) from April 1970 to Dec 1973, where he gained a great deal of first-hand knowledge. He speaks Portugese,
While with the SA Defence Forces Van Der Waals completed a counter-insurgency course at The Rhodesian School of Infantry, commanded a Paratroop Company in South West Afrika, served in Angola as Vice-Consul for 4 years were he worked with and knew personnally many of the Portugese military officers (including Costa Gomes, one of the architects of the Portugese military coup in 1974). After his stint in Angola, he was CO of 11 Commando, with some of his companies later deployed to South-West on low level counter-insurgency work. Over his career, he received 13 decorations and medals. After the Portugese withdrew from Angola, Van Der Waals was ordered to link up with UNITA and spent time in Angola with Jonas Savimbi, advising him and leading a team training UNITA Brigades in conventional warfare.
As can be seem from the above summary, the author knows whereof he is speaking. The book itself is based on a doctorate the author completed in 1990 and is an extremely through and understandable summary of the fighting in Angola from it's outbreak in 1961 to independance in 1974. It's essentially a political and military history, combat operations are not covered in any detail but the broad sweep of what happened is covered very well indeed. As far as I know, this is the only real study of Portugese war in Angola that's available (if you can find a copy) and it's a very worthwhile acquisition.
There's many books about the later South African fighting in Angola - this book provides a very useful foundation which assists in an understanding of the various Angolan independance movements as well as a lead-in to the post-74 South African involvement in the fighting within Angola.