Angolan Revolution - Vol. 2: Exile Politics and Guerilla Warfare, 1962-1976, 1978

Angolan Revolution - Vol. 2: Exile Politics and Guerilla Warfare, 1962-1976, 1978

Author(s): John A. Marcum
  • Type: Book
  • Researcher: Other Researchers
  • Timeline: 1970s
  • Affiliation:


The first volume of this work, subtitled The Anatomy of an Explosion, 1950-1962, described the background and the first two years of the armed struggle for Angolan independence. It was published in 1969, and left its readers eagerly awaiting the sequel...[W]riting in the American Historical Review, [a scholar] concluded that "Professor Marcum's able study of the struggle for Angolan independence in 1962 is not likely to be easily replaced for quite some time to come. Everyone interested in this struggle will eagerly look forward to his second volume that brings the story through the sixties."

The second volume narrates how Angola won her independence from Portugal in 1975, traces the course of the continuing conflict among revolutionary groups to its effectively final outcome, and ends as Angola gains worldwide recognition as a sovereign and (tenuously) unified nation.

This new volume fully meets the expectations aroused by its predecessor, with its scrupulous linking of events and evidence. Moreover, since the historical incidents leading to the denouementare intrinsically more dramatic than those of the early years of the struggle, the second volume possesses a heightened narrative drive, enabling the reader to keep up with the quickening and sometimes confusing pace of events.

Marcum thoroughly documents the rival revolutionary parties—based as much on ethnicity as on ideology—that fought the Portuguese and each other. (Two major movements were active in the field up to 1966, when a third party emerged as a full contender.) The origin, programs, leadership, and structure of these parties are examined in considerable detail, including the extent to which their guerrilla operations were controlled by exiled insurgents. The book explores the transterritorial relations among the parties and their interaction with external powers, both before the collapse of Portuguese rule and during the civil war that followed. In particular, Marcum traces the shifting patterns of political and material support provided to the various factions by contiguous African nations, the United States, China, the Soviet Union, Cuba, and others, especially during the final phase of the struggle. The reportorial and scholarly sources referenced here make the civil war understandable—and demonstrate the extent of its predictability, if not its inevitability.


About the Author

John A. Marcum was an international educator and renowned Africa scholar...Marcum was part of a small but passionate group of activist-scholars who helped shape and chronicle American relations with Africa during the collapse of colonialism and the birth of independent Africa.  His influence extended from academics and policy makers in Western capitals to emerging leaders of Africa’s pre-independence nationalist movements such as Patrice Lumumba and Eduardo Mondlane. He was also deeply involved in efforts to end apartheid in South Africa for more than three decades.

Marcum was one of the world’s foremost experts on Angola and Mozambique.  When war broke out in Angola in 1961 Marcum traveled behind enemy lines with nationalist guerrillas to deliver medicines to villagers and soldiers.  He is widely credited with writing “the bible” on the Angolan revolution. According to The New York Review of Books, when the first volume, The Angolan Revolution: The Anatomy of an Explosion (1950-1962), was published in 1969, it “immediately became the main source for anyone trying seriously to understand Angolan nationalism, including Portuguese officials in Lisbon and revolutionaries in Angola.”  At the time of his death he was completing the final edits on a history of the Mozambican revolution based on a trove of original documents and interview notes dating back to the late 1950s. 

University of California- Santa Cruz, 20 September 2013

Marcum, John A. Angolan Revolution - Vol. 2: Exile Politics and Guerilla Warfare, 1962-1976. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1978.