• African Kaiser

  • General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck and the Great War in Africa, 1914-1918
  • By: Robert Gaudi
  • Narrated by: Paul Hodgson
  • Length: 18 hrs and 7 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (924 ratings)

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African Kaiser  By  cover art

African Kaiser

By: Robert Gaudi
Narrated by: Paul Hodgson
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Publisher's Summary

The incredible true account of General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck and his exploits in World War I Africa with the legendary "Schutztruppe".

As World War I ravaged the European continent, a completely different theater of war was being contested in Africa. And from this very different kind of war, there emerged a very different kind of military leader....

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the continent of Africa was a hotbed of international trade, colonialism, and political gamesmanship. So when World War I broke out, the European powers were forced to contend with each other not just in the bloody trenches - but in the treacherous jungle. And it was in that unforgiving land that General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck would make history.

With the now legendary "Schutztruppe" (Defensive Force), von Lettow-Vorbeck and a small cadre of hardened German officers fought alongside their fanatically devoted native African allies as equals, creating the first truly integrated army of the modern age.

African Kaiser is the almost-forgotten true account of Wiemar Germany's military escapades on the dark continent. A story of 1,000-mile marches through the harshest landscapes; of German officers riding bicycles into battle through the bush; of battleships hidden in jungle rivers teeming with crocodiles; of improbable Zeppelin voyages; of desperate men living off hippo lard and facing dangers in both man and nature. But mostly it is the story of von Lettow-Vorbeck - the only undefeated German commmander in the field during World War I, and the last to surrender his arms in final defeat.

©2017 Robert Gaudi (P)2017 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about African Kaiser

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Well Written, Well Read, Well Done!

General - 'African Kaiser' provided copious amounts of information on a part of World War One I knew little about and a person I knew nothing about. It has a wealth of interesting information about the colonial conflict in Africa and it was told in a very engaging style.

Content – Robert Gaudi set good background information; first about the history of airships used in the war, then about the conditions the troops faced, in particular the entomology in the area, then about the colonial subjugation of Africa, and finally, about the early life of Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck. All of this was done without getting too deep into the weeds like some authors tend to do with books like this. The book evoked some emotions, primarily that ‘creepy-crawly’ feeling down the back when the narrator described some of the bugs, diseases and depravations the troops on both sides suffered during their time in the bush. For the most part this book held my interest to a point where I didn’t want to stop listening. Overall, the book read like a very good novel; being part romance, part war, and part spy-thriller. I don’t mean to make light of this horrific time in human history by saying that, I’m simply trying express the ‘feel’ the book had for me. I made five bookmarks with notes for future reference that, for me, is always a barometer of a really good book.

Length – This book did not seem like it was 18-plus hours in length. I believe the length was perfect for the subject matter. I finished the book in 12-days, which may seem a long time, but aside from having to work fulltime I was also listening to six books simultaneously. Of those books, this was my go-to every day until I finished it. If an abridged version is ever produced I’d recommend avoiding it unless you’re a person who only wants CliffsNotes; which begs the question, why you’re an Audible member in the first place? In that event, or, if you don’t want to commit the 18-hours, I suggest using Wikipedia; you’ll learn everything the book provides in a quick and efficient, albeit, completely banal manner.

Narration – Outstanding! Paul Hogston has one of those classic British voices and he can deliver an impeccable German accent, albeit slightly overplayed to the point of being humorous at times. His cadence and pronunciation were perfect throughout. I believe his narration added to the overall experience and enjoyment of this book.

Summation - If you enjoy historical books, general knowledge, useful details, and precise background information this book should be in your library. I wouldn't say this is a "Great" book, but it is certainly a very, very, good book and I will most assuredly be listening to it again.

24 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Gaudi is a skillful storyteller

This book is part of my reading project about World War One. This book takes place in Africa rather than Europe. I remember the Germans in the movie “African Queen”. Little seems to have been written about WWI in Africa.

Germany was one of the colonist nations in Africa. They had German East Africa. The author tells about the life of General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck (1870-1964) but most of the time about his African campaigns. Gaudi goes into depth about how he created his fanatically loyal Schutztruppe. They were a small colonial infantry consisting of some black and white soldiers. They were trained into a highly efficient fighting force, aggressive and completely self-supporting. Gaudi states it was the first racially integrated army in modern history. They were cut off from the world by the British Blockade. They were outnumbered by British, South African, Belgian and Portuguese armies but they could not be caught or beaten. Gaudi provides a brief review of colonialism in Africa and tosses in a myriad of odd facts. Gaudi compares Lettow-Vorbeck to Glylippus from Thucydides in the Peloponnesian Wars.

The book is well written and meticulously researched. The book reads like a novel instead of a dry history book. Gaudi does a great job with the descriptions of the naval and military actions. Von Lettow-Vorbeck had a brief romance with Karen Blixen who is better known as Isaak Dinesen, author of “Out of Africa”. Von Lettow-Vorbeck was the only undefeated German General of WWI and a recipient of the German Pourle Merite and the Blauer Max. This would be the equivalent of the Medal of Honor. He lived to oppose Hitler and died in 1964.

I read this as an audiobook downloaded from Audible. The book was about 18 hours long. Paul Hodgson does a good job narrating the book. Hodgson is a classically trained British actor and audiobook narrator.

11 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Phenomenal

Where does African Kaiser rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

best audio book ever and in the top 10 best books ever.

What did you like best about this story?

Unbelievable grit and determination! I learned about so many different topics; environmental perils of fighting in Africa, difficulties of keeping a coal burning steamship in service, the capabilities, limitations and demands of piloting a Zeppelin. The U.S. Military could learn lessons about fighting small, highly mobile enemies by listening to African Kaiser

Have you listened to any of Paul Hodgson’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

no

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

A celebration of leadership,grit and determination.

Any additional comments?

I would be first in line to see a film based on this book...it could rival The Wind And The Lion!!

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Excellent Book and Narration

Fast moving and intriguing. The author has a talent for taking a complex topic and making it enjoyable and interesting. The only disturbing part of the book was when the author stated that modern Germany has removed von Lettow's monuments because he was allegedly a "racist". However, von Lettow had an enlightened view of race relations, particularly for his time. Apparently, Germany learned nothing from World War II and is engaging in fascism in the name of political correctness.

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A fantastic story about an unknown part of WW1

One of the most fascinating stories of World War One, the adventures of Paul Von Lettow-Vorbeck as laid out on this book bring a smile to the face and even a tear or two to the eye. He was a skilled warrior, and deserves much more recognition from the world than he currently gets. If you love a good story, a complex campaign diary, or an emotional tale of an officers devotion to his men, this book is the one for you.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Land Warfare Well Described, but Naval Battles Are Completely Wrong

I enjoyed this book, and its description of the land campaign in Africa, during WW1. Vin Lettow-Vorbeck was an amazing leader, and his battles against the British are interesting to hear and had a big impact on the war.
What I did nit enjoy was the description of the various warships and sea battles which are all incorrect (light cruisers described as "battleships" armored and light cruisers described as "battle cruisers" and the like...) and the Battles of the Falkland Islands in which the British force was described as "8 battle cruisers" although the force included only 2 ships if that type. The naval descriptions are so incorrect that they cast doubt in the accuracy of the rest of the book. I only hope the author's expertise is in land warfare, giving that part of the book a better chance of being accurate.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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The best

What did you love best about African Kaiser?

The entire package

What did you like best about this story?

tightly written with fascinating side trips - that were fascinating on their own terms

What about Paul Hodgson’s performance did you like?

Perfect Narrator - a real performance

Any additional comments?

Audio Book at its finest

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Gripping history

Beautifully written and excellently read. Astounding story of guerrilla/asymmetrical warfare, exactly the kind of thing today's special ops commands aspire to do with host countries troops. This is military history that reads better than military fiction. Also shows Germans and Englishmen acting like gentlemen even in a deadly war.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Maybe too fictionalized, still a great listen

Agree with a previous reviewer that this audiobook has some issues (that is why 4 stars on the story), but all forgivable in light of the fact that there are few materials on this topic.

More specifically, I find it irritating when the author attributes thoughts or words to a historical character in the absence of corroborating evidence (e.g., a conversation Von Lettow had "might have gone like this" and a dialogue follows). Also, sometimes the author makes long winded digression, talking for long time about secondary character or events; almost felt like he was stretching the book. And no, Zeppelins did not carry thousands of tons of bombs, and, as somebody noted, the whole Konigsberg saga has some technical inaccuracies (after all it was a light cruiser; it was other cruisers blocking its way and not battleships, and so on).

However, the story flows well, it is interesting, informative, and engaging.
I learned a lot.

Good narration, though somewhat irritated by the different accents used by the narrator, he kind of overdid it at times. Still 5 stars.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Captivating!

If you enjoy military history and colonialism, this is a can't miss, sometimes hard to believe story about an extraordinary individual and the scenes unfolding around German East Africa.

2 people found this helpful