This is the first comprehensive study of the German colonial conquest of Tanzania between 1888 and 1904. Moving beyond the focus on German policy at the national level, the author highlights the local perspective on German colonialism as it was experienced by rural Tanzanians. In each region, the pre-colonial politics are analyzed to explain how the nature of German conquest and subsequent administration often reflected local political patterns and conflicts as much as it did German aims and objectives. The work examines the history and sociology of the German military in East Africa, largely composed of Africans, and how its organization reflected both German and African needs. The German military, Schutztruppe, is viewed as a rapidly evolving African institution that created new ethnic identities and social classes in its wake.