Autobiographies

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Books - Autobiographies
Alba - General and Servant to the Crown, ed. Maurits Ebben, Margriet Lacy-Bruijn and Rolof van Hövell tot Westerflier. FAn excellent multi-national and multi-author study of Fernando Alvarez de Toledo, duke of Alba, one of the most important Spanish leaders of the sixteenth century, and famous for his failure to put down the early stages of the Dutch Revolt. [read full review]

Post Second-World War

Helmand to the Himalayas - One Soldier's Inspiration Journey, David Wiseman. A two-part memoir, starting with the author's experiences in Afghanistan, where he took part in the British deployment to Helmand, where he was involved in the aftermath of a traumatic attack on British troops by bogus Afghan policemen, then moving on to his recovery from the physical and mental trauma the author suffered after being badly wounded in combat. This second section is the most valuable, with an unflinching account of the impact of post traumatic stress and an entertaining account of the Everest expedition that helped with the author's recovery [read full review]
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The Funny Side of War for the Sick and Demented, Mat Vance. An unvarnished account of the experiences of a US Army Scout who served during the war in Iraq, but focusing on the more light-hearted (for a certain definition of light-hearted) aspects of his service career. The stories ring true, although it is unusual to find an author willing to put himself at the centre of quite so many escapades. Provides a different point of view of life in the modern US military, and thus a valuable work. [read full review]
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Baghdad Operators: Ex Special Forces in Iraq, James Glasse with Andrew Rawson. Looks at the experiences of a retired British Special Forces soldier who ended up founding a sizable security firm operating in Iraq in the years after the Second Gulf War. Takes the reader through the chaos of Iraq, where survival was often a matter of random chance, helped by the impressive skills acquired by Glasse and his colleagues. [read full review]
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From the Imjin to the Hook, James Jacobs. Interesting autobiography of a national serviceman who serving with the artillery in Korea before volunteering for a second spell of service late in the same war. A very readable account of life in the British Army in Korea, seen from a slightly unusual angle - I've not read an account from the artillery before. [read full review]
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Helmand - Diaries of Front-Line Soldiers, Various Authors. Focuses on the diaries of John and Ian Thornton, brothers who served in Afghanistan in 2008 and 2011-12 respectively. John was killed close to the end of his tour of duty, and profits from the book go to the John Thornton Young Achievers Foundation, a charity founded to honour his memory. The two Thornton diaries are supported by two other diaries and two personal reminiscence to produce a vivid picture of the life of a frontline solder in Afghanistan. [read full review]
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Arabian Days - The Memoirs of Two Trucial Oman Scouts, Antony Cawston and Michael Curtis. Two memoirs that look at life in the Trucial Oman Scouts (a precursor of the army of the UAE) in two periods during the 1960s. The authors came to the unit in very different ways, but both clearly enjoyed their time there, and they paint a very sympathetic picture of life in the Emirates at the very start of the oil boom. [read full review]
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Stay the Distance - The Life and Times of Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Michael Beetham, Peter Jacobs. A biography of one of the RAF's most important post-war leaders, tracing his career from his wartime tour with Bomber Command to his post as Chief of the Air Staff during the Falklands War. [read full review]
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In a Bosnia Trench, A Wartime Memoir of a Muslim Bosnian Soldier, Elvir Kulin with Maury Hirschkorn. A impressively un-judgemental account of the Bosnia War as seen by a young Bosnian Muslim from the Sarajevo area, of value both for its account of the fighting, and of the rapid descent into civil war in the former Yugoslavia. [read full review]
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On the Deck or in the Drink, Flying with the Royal Navy 1952-1964, Lieutenant Brian R. Allen RN. The autobiography of a pilot in the post-war Fleet Air Arm, recounting his experiences flying a wide range of aircraft from old wartime Avengers to the Fairey Gannet and some alarming early helicopters [read full review]
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Back Bearing: A Navigator's Tale, 1942 to 1974, Group Captain Eric Cropper. A useful account of a period of rapid navigation in the science of navigation, seen from the point of view of an RAF Officer who served as a navigator with Bomber Command during the Second World War then remained in the RAF for thirty years, becoming a senior figure in navigation training [read full review]
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Save the Last Bullet for Yourself: A Soldier of Fortune in the Balkans and Somalia, Rob Krott. A compelling and convincing tale of life as a soldier of fortune in the Balkans and Somalia written by a former US Army officer, Harvard post-graduate student, looking at the first two years of his career as a successful soldier of fortune. [read full review]
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Fighting for the French Foreign Legion: Memoirs of a Scottish Legionnaire, Alex Lochrie. A valuable account of life in the Legion during the period when it became an official part of the French armed forces, covering the selection process, training, and the Legion's involvement in peacekeeping in Africa and Bosnia as well as Operation Desert Storm. [read full review]

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Napoleonic and French Revolutionary Wars

Sir John Moore - The Making of a Controversial Hero, Janet MacDonald. A full length biography of Sir John Moore, best known for the battle of Corunna and for training the rifle corps at Shorncliffe. As this book proves, he had an active and varied career, serving on Corsica, in the West Indies, Ireland, Holland, Egypt, Sicily and Sweden as well as in Spain and Portugal, so as well as providing a biography of Moore, this book also gives us a cross-section of the British army's activities during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. [read full review]
Into Battle with Napoleon 1812 - The Journal of Jakob Walter, ed. Bob Carruthers. The memoirs of a German soldier who fought in Napoleon's army during the campaigns of 1806-7, 1809 and 1812, taking part in the invasion of Russia, fighting at Borodino and suffering during the retreat from Moscow. Simply written, this gives us a view of the supporting armies in the earlier campaigns as well as the appalling suffering during the retreat from Moscow. [read full review]
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A Waterloo Hero: The Reminiscences of Friedrich Lindau, ed. James Bogle and Andrew Uffindell. A rare example of a memoir written by a private soldier in Wellington's army, in this case a skirmisher in the King's German Legion who fought in the last few years of the Peninsular War and at Waterloo, where he was involved in the fighting at La Haye Sainte. A valuable insight into the daily life and preoccupations of one of Wellington's men. [read full review]
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