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This is the first complete history of Rhodesia, the country founded by Empire Builder, Cecil John Rhodes. It tells how Rhodes’ men engaged Lobengula, the Matabele king, in lengthy negotiations while at the same time seeking a Royal Charter for the British South Africa Company and the right for white pioneers to occupy Mashonaland. It tells of the Pioneer Column and the occupation in 1890, the Matabele War, the Matabele and Mashona rebellions, Rhodesian military involvement in the Boer War and World War I when Rhodesians fought for King and country in SW Africa, East Africa and on the Western Front. Baxter explains the granting of self government by Britain in 1923 and the rapid development that took place between the wars, including the realisation of the tobacco dream.

He writes about Rhodesian involvement in World War II when conscription was introduced as a necessity to halt a flood of volunteers that had become so great that if it had not been stopped it would have damaged the economy of the country. Men and women were detached to British and South African units to avoid the savage casualties of World War I when volunteers had fought in purely Rhodesian units. In this way the Rhodesians fought in every theatre of war, on land, sea and in the air.

Baxter details the tide of white immigration after the war, the establishment and breakup of the Federation of the Rhodesias and Nyasaland and the rising political awareness of the black populace. The bid for full independence from Britain and finally UDI when Rhodesians went alone despite comprehensive UN sanctions. He details the rising tide of the Bush War waged by black nationalists, sustained by the military support of the Soviet Bloc and Red China, and finally the Lancaster House talks that led to a ‘free and fair’ British and Commonwealth supervised elections which led to the black demagogue Robert Mugabe coming to power.

Throughout this historical tapestry the author has skilfully threaded in the many often larger-than-life personalities who shaped Rhodesia’s destiny from the early characters like Cecil John Rhodes, Leander Starr Jameson, Frank Johnson, King Lobengula, Archibald Colquhoan and many others, to the later ones like Godfrey Huggins, Sir Edgar Whitehead, Garfield Todd, Joshua Nkomo, Robert Mugabe Ian Smith and a host of others

Paperback, 576 pages. Lavishly illustrated with 48 pages of black and white and colour illustrations. Published September 2010