Military History Encyclopedia on the Web

2021 onwards - 2020 - 2019 - 2018 - 2017 - 2016 - 2015 - 2014 - 2013 - April-December 2012 - November 2011-March 2012 - July-October 2011 - January-June 2011 - March-December 2010 - January-April 2010 - September-December 2009 - January-August 2009- 2008 - 2007

15 May 2022

Tommy goes to War, Malcolm Brown. A very valuble collection of extracts from previously unpublished letters, diaries and oral testimoneys left behind by British soldiers of the First World War, recording their experiences from recruitment to the Western Front. First published in 1978, when it helped shift the view of the war away from the ‘Lions led by Donkeys’ attitude that had become dominant. Instead the book showed that the general attitude towards the war was more positive, even during the worst of the battles (Read Full Review)
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Fighting the French Revolution – The Great Vendee Rising of 1793, Rob Harper. A detailed history of one of the most serious threats to the young French Republic, which saw Royalist rebels in the west of France inflict a series of defeats on the Republicans in a civil war that became increasingly bitter and costly, and dragged in many commanders who would later rise to high rank. Very good on the details of the individual battles and skirmishes that made up this conflict, with a good use of sources from both sides (Read Full Review)
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The Defenders of Taffy 3 – Analysis and Retelling of the Battle of Leyte Gulf, Byron G. Como. A detailed account of the battle off Samar, taking advantage of the declassification of the American battle reports in 2012 and the use of any surviving Japanese reports to produce an accurate study of the defensive battle that saved the escort carriers of Taffy 3 from total destruction. Uncovers some previously lost details of the battle, and even traces the courses of individual torpedoes! (Read Full Review)
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8 May 2022

When the Shooting Stopped – August 1945, Barrett Tillman. Looks at the final weeks of the Second World War, from the initial rumours of a possible Japanese surrender, through all of the uncertainty caused by the different factions in Tokyo and on to the official surrender ceremony in Tokyo Bay. Looks at the intercepted intelligence that guided American actions, the political debates within Japan, the confusion faced by the various fighting forces as peace got closer, the last military actions of the war, and the initial stages of the occupation of Japan and the surrender ceremony in Tokyo Bay (Read Full Review)
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The Last Throw of the Dice - Bourbaki and Werder in Eastern France 1870-71, Quintin Barry. Looks at the last French attempt to inflict a significant defeat on the invading Germans during the Franco-Prussian War, when their army of the East was sent to try and lift the siege of Belfort, threaten the German lines of communications and possibly even turn north to try and lift the siege of Paris. Traces how the ambitious campaign floundered, saw the French suffer a defeat against a smaller German army at the Lisaine and were eventually force to flee into internment in Switzerland, just as the entire war was coming to an end (Read Full Review)
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Ancient Greeks at War – Warfare in the Classical World from Agamemnon to Alexander, Simon Elliott. A useful overview of Greek warfare from the earliest days of the Minoans and Mycenaeans, through the triumphs and tragedies of the Classical and early Hellenistic periods and on to their decline and defeat at the hands of the rising power of Rome. Philip II of Macedon and Alexander the Great get a great deal of attention (with a chapter each out of the six). A good summary of ancient Greek warfare based on up-to-date research, and with plenty of useful detail despite the long period being covered (Read Full Review)
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1 May 2022

Cumbria at War 1939-45, Ruth Mansergh. Contains a large amount of details on how the Second World War impacted on Cumbria, from the Barrow Blitz to the large scale relocation of industry to the area, the use of airfields around the edges of the country (and the many crashes as aircraft flew into the fells in poor weather). Might have benefited from a more thematic structure, but does provide a great deal of interesting information from all around this large county (Read Full Review)
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The Two Eleanors of Henry III, Darren Baker. Looks at the lives of Henry III’s sister, who married Simon de Montfort, and his wife, both Eleanors, and both very heavily involved in the political controversies of Henry’s reign. Both had important and controversial lives, and both appear to be able to take some of the blame for the crisis that rocked Henry’s rule late in his life, while also acting as fairly typical medieval aristocrats, defending their own rights at all costs (Read Full Review)
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The Glorious First of June 1794, Mark Lardas. Looks at the first major naval battle of the French Revolutionary Wars, the only major battle of the age of sail to be fought in the open ocean, and a battle that both sides believed they had won, each having different objectives for the campaigns. Combines a good account of the background and the wider campaign with a clear account of the three main days of fighting. Celebrated in Britain for the capture of several French warships and in France for the safe arrival of a massive convoy carrying essential supplies (Read Full Review)
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24 April 2022

Deception in Medieval Warfare – Trickery and Cunning in the Central Middle Ages, James Titterton. Looks at the use of deception in warfare in the Francophone world (France, the Low Countries, Norman England with examples from Italy and the Crusades), studying both the actual examples of deception of various types and the chroniclers attitudes to it. An excellent study that helps prove that medieval warfare was far more complex than many would believe, as were attitudes to deception (Read Full Review)
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Redcoats to Tommies – The Experience of the British Soldier from the Eighteenth Century, ed. Kevin Linch and Matthew Lord. An interesting collection of articles looking at the experiences of the British soldier from the Eighteenth century Redcoats through to the start of the First World War (and in one case to 1992), covering a wide range of topics from how recruitment changed to the public attitude to the soldier, in a period that saw the British soldier go from being seen as the lowest of the low to the much admired ‘Tommy’ (Read Full Review)
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A Spitfire Girl - One of the World's Greatest Female ATA Ferry Pilots tells her Story, Mary Ellis. The remarkable life story of a ferry pilot with the ATA who flew four hundred different Spitfires and seventy-six different types of aircraft during her flying career, including the jet powered Meteor, then went on to run Sandown airport on the Isle of Wight, probably making her the only female airport manager in Europe at the time! Mary comes across as a remarkable person, with a real desire for speed – as well as her time in Spitfires she was also a successful rally car driver, winning several events (Read Full Review)
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17 April 2022

Stargrave, Joseph A. McCullough. A squad based sci-fi wargame, based around battles between small independent crews, emerging as a mix between a competitive RPG and a small scale wargame, with a nice advancement system for your lead characters, supporting by a squad of more disposable characters, fighting in skirmish battles that work best as part of a long campaign, with a nice system for bringing ever more hostiles onto the battlefield. Aimed at the ‘fun’ rather than the ‘competitive’ end of the market and nicely achieves that aim (Read Full Review)
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Stargrave: The Last Prospector, Joseph A. McCullough. An entertaining add-on to the Stargrave system, built around a ten scenario long campaign where most can be done in any order, with the order chosen and the results of previous ones having some impact on later scenarios. Also includes some useful additions to the game, including new backgrounds for your two characters, new soldier types, new monsters and new equipment (Read Full Review)
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Oathmark Bane of Kings, Joseph A McCullough. Contains four additions to the Oathmark system – new formation rules for using existing units, new units (animated stone and chariots), kingdom events to give your kingdom more of a history (with some impact on upcoming battles) and two military expeditions, linked series of three scenarios with their own interesting special rules. A fun addition to the system, especially to the already fun kingdom system (Read Full Review)
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10 April 2022

Siege Warfare during the Crusades, Michael S. Fulton. A thematic account of siege warfare during the Crusading period, based on a broad study of Christian and Muslim fortifications including a comprehensive list of the sieges of the period. A good approach that gives us a detailed picture of how siege warfare developed during the two centuries of the Crusader period, a time in which sieges were by far the most important element of warfare. An excellent detailed examination of every aspect of siege warfare in this period (Read Full Review)
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Stephen and Matilda’s Civil War – Cousins of Anarchy, Matthew Lewis. A nicely organised look at the civil war between Stephen and Matilda, with alternating chapters looking at events from one side then the other, trying to explain why the war lasted so long, how bad things actually were during this period, and how the character of the two main players might have affected events. A well balanced account of a controversial period, described by our main sources as being near total chaos (Read Full Review)
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Armies of the Hellenistic States 323 BC- AD 30, History, Organisation & Equipment, Gabriele Esposito. An excellent study of the armies fielded by the many different Hellenistic powers, starting with the Macedonian armies of Philip II and Alexander the Great, then looking at the armies of the many and varied powers to emerge from the wars of the successors, from the ‘big three’ of Macedonia, Egpyt and the Seleucids to the individual Greek cities, Hellenistic Isreal and the Bactrian and Indian outposts. Covers their structure, troop types and equipment, and how they changed over time (Read Full Review)
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3 April 2022

Luftwaffe Special Weapons 1942-45, Robert Forsyth. A look at the vast array of special weapons developed for the Luftwaffe, ranging from simple large cannon up to guided missiles, along with a range of more wacky suggestions, including flame throwers, bombs towed on cables, chemical sprays designed to block windscreens or attempts to create massive gusts of wind! Most came too late to have any real effect on the war, or even get out of development, but some did have an impact on the fighting, especially the anti-shipping weapons (Read Full Review)
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P-51B/C Mustang – Northwest Europe 1943-44, Chris Bucholtz. Looks at the development of the first Merlin powered version of the Mustang, and its impact on the air battles over Europe from its introduction at the very end of 1943 to its replacement by the P-51D. Focuses more on the development of the aircraft and the overall picture of the air war than is often the case in this sort of book, making it a more valuable book (Read Full Review)
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From Battle of Britain Airman to POW Escapee - The Story of Ian Walker, RAF, Angela Walker. Tells the story of a New Zealander who volunteered to join the Air Force at the outbreak of war, arrived in the UK just in time to fight in the battle of Britain then moved to Bomber Command, eventually being shot down and captured. Written from the point of view of his daughter Angela, who discovered his wartime diaries after his death, so we also get the story of she uncovered more about his wartime experiences and how that altered her attitude to the conflict (Read Full Review)
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27 March 2022

Oathmark: Battles of the Lost Age, Joseph A McCullough. A small scale fantasy wargame, designed for armies of 30+ figures, each representing an individual soldier, with a quick moving set of basic rules supported by a set of interesting looking advanced rules for heroes, magic etc, and backed up by a fun kingdom creation system that lets you customise the overall army list you use to build individual armies, making it possible to field mixed forces with just about any combination of troop types from the game (Read Full Review)
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British Gunboats of Victoria’s Empire, Angus Konstam. Looks at the warships that carried out the famous ‘gunboat diplomacy’ of the Victorian Empire, a type of shallow draft screw driven warship that evolved from Crimean war area coastal bombardment gunboats into more flexible gunvessels and sloops, capable of operating in shallow waters and rivers but also of ocean voyages, making them a flexible instrument of British power. Focuses largely on the technical descriptions and development of the type, with a brief look at their use (Read Full Review)
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French Warships in the Age of Steam 1859-1914 – Design, Construction, Careers and Fates, Stephen S. Roberts. A valuable reference work that looks at the development and technical specification of some 1,400 warships that were built for the French Navy between the launch of the first ocean-going ironclad Gloire and the outbreak of the First World War. Also includes very brief overviews of their careers, mainly looking at the key dates in their construction, when they went in and out of commission and when their careers ended (Read Full Review)
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20 March 2022

B-36 ‘Peacemaker’ Units of the Cold War, Peter E Davies. A look at US Strategic Air Command’s first new post war long range nuclear bomber, still the largest bomber ever to have served with the USAF (admittedly only seeing ten years of service). Good material on the development of the aircraft, the attempts to make it more reliable and then improve its performance, and the role of the impressively large crew (Read Full Review)
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The Dutch Resistance 1940-45 – World War II Resistance and Collaboration in the Netherlands, Michel Wenting LLM and Klass Castelein. Starts with a look at the pre-war Dutch Fascist movements, the German occupation forces, and the German and collaborationist security services, before moving on to the various Dutch resistance forces, looking at how resistance started with a strike and ended with an open uprising against the Germans and with many Resistance members serving with the Allied armies in a more conventional role (Read Full Review)
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‘Big Week’ 1944 – Operation Argument and the breaking of the Jadgwaffe, Douglas C. Dildy. Looks at the USAAF’s concentrated attack on the German aircraft industry, a week of massive bombing raids that forced the Luftwaffe into an equally massive defensive effort that cost them around 150 aircrew at a time when they could hardly afford those losses, as well as cutting German fighter production by around 2,000 aircraft, and proving that the long range escort fighter was the key to a successful daylight bombing campaign (Read Full Review)
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13 March 2022

Yank and Rebel Rangers: Special Operations in the American Civil War, Robert W. Black. Looks at the activities of the many small units who mainly operated behind enemy lines during the American Civil War, as partisans, rangers or scouts. Not all are special operations as we would understand them, but the key is that the units being studies weren’t part of the regular armies, and most operated somewhat independently, in an increasingly brutal private war that sometimes had a major impact on regular campaigns (Read Full Review)
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Castles to Fortress – Medieval to Post-Modern Fortifications in the lands of the Former Roman Empire, J.E. Kaufmann & H.W. Kaufmann. A bit disjointed in parts, drifting into more of a general history of the earlier periods, but good on the changes brought on by the increasing effectiveness of gunpowder weapons during the Renaissance, and the changes to fortifications introduced in an attempt to cope with them. Includes many excellent photographic pages, which combine modern photographs, plans, and Medieval or Renaissance illustrations, giving a great visual backup to the text (Read Full Review)
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Walther Pistols PP, PPK and P 38, John Walter. Looks at the design of Walther’s line of pistols, from the Modell 1 of 1911, through the three most famous types and onto to post war production, along with their production history, descriptions of how they worked, and a look at who used them and where they were sold. The descriptions of how the guns worked is of particular interest, as is the development history (Read Full Review)
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6 March 2022

The Wars of Justinian, Michael Whitby. Looks at the full range of campaigns that took place during the reign of Justinian, from the famous (if temporary) reconquest of Italy to the long running conflicts on the Balkan border, making him one of the most militarily successful Emperors not to directly take part in his own campaigns. Provides a valuable overview of the near constant warfare of his reign, along with an overview of the rest of his reign, including his legal reforms and domestic opposition (Read Full Review)
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The Duke of York’s Flanders Campaign – Fighting the French Revolution, 1793-1795, Steve Brown. Looks at the Flanders campaigns of the War of the First Coalition, the first major British involvement in the Revolutionary Wars and the campaigns in which the ‘old style’ Eighteenth Century armies and leadership of the Coalition proved lacking when faced with the new armies of Revolutionary France. Focuses on the British (and hired German) contribution, and the role of the young Duke of York, whose Royal status gave him a command that his military experience didn’t justify (Read Full Review)
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Escaping has ceased to be a sport - A Soldier’s memoir of Captivy and Escape in Italy and Germany, Frank Unwin MBE. A compelling account of the author’s experiences as a POW in Italy, then as an escapee sheltering in the mountains of Tuscany, and finally as a POW in Germany (after a failed attempt to reach the Allied lines in southern Italy). Covers three fairly unfamiliar aspects of the POW experience, most notably his time outside captivity in northern Italy and the period of forced labour in Germany (Read Full Review)
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27 February 2022

The Two Battles of Copenhagen 1801 and 1807 - Britain and Denmark in the Napoleonic Wars, Gareth Glover. Looks at the entire relationship between Britain and Denmark during the Napoleonic Wars, a period which saw Denmark directly threatened by the French dominance of Germany, but also twice attacked by Britain over fears that she might have blocked British access to the Baltic, a source of important naval supplies. Covers those two attacks in the most detail, but also provides a good account of the rest of the period, the reasons for the two attacks, and their aftermath (Read Full Review)
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Southern Thunder – The Royal Navy and the Scandinavian Trade in World War One, Steve R Dunn. A study of the difficult relationship between Britain, German and the Scandinavian neutrals during the First World War, and the impact that had on the naval war and the problems faced by the Royal Navy, including the grudging introduction of convoys across the North Sea, a move that helped prove that convoys were indeed an effective way to stop the U-boats inflicting unacceptable losses on British and neutral merchant ships (Read Full Review)
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The Great War Illustrated 1915, William Langford and Jack Holroyd. A splendid selection of high quality pictures illustrating the main events of 1915 as seen by both sides in the war, supported by useful historical explainations of the major battles, again supported by some of the contempory photographs and maps. The range of topics covered, and the range of pictures from the German and Turkish sides as well as from the Western Allies put it a cut above most books of pictures (Read Full Review)
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20 February 2022

The Roman Barbarian Wars – The Era of Roman Conquest, Ludwig Heinrich Dyck. A straightforward account of Rome’s wars of conquests against the Gauls, Germans and Iberians, taking us from the traumatic defeat on the Allia and the resulting sack of Rome, through Rome’s conquests of northern Italy, Gaul and most of Spain and on to the failure to conquer Germany, the defeat at the Teutoburg Forest and the less familiar Roman campaigns that came after that battle. A good atmospheric account of four centuries of warfare, aimed at the general reader (Read Full Review)
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The battle of Sekigahara, Chris Glenn. An excellent account of the battle of Sekigahara, the first of the two victories (this and Osaka in 1614-15) that firmly established the Tokugawa shogunate in power in Japan, ending centuries of civil war and effectively ending the military role of the Samurai. Takes us from the establishment of some unity under Odo Nobunaga to the completion of that job under Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and the successful betrayal of Hideyoshi’s heirs by Tokugawa Ieyasu, and gives us an excellent account of the hard fought and brutal battle itself (Read Full Review)
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Ladies of Lascaris – Christina Ratcliffe and the Forgotten Heroes of Malta’s War, Paul McDonald. Looks at the experiences of the women who served in the RAF’s control room at Lascaris on Malta during the Italian and German aerial assault on the island, with a focus on the life of Christina Radcliffe, who came to the island before the war to work as a dancer, and ended up trapped by the war. However the many Maltese who served in the control room are also give due credit, and the book tells the tale of a remarkable group of women who carried out essential high pressure work, while living under direct attack for most of the time (Read Full Review)
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13 February 2022

Years of Endurance – Life about the battlecruiser Tiger 1914-16, John R Muir. A fascinating autobiographic account of life onboard a British battlecruiser in the North Sea during the first half of the First World War, including the response to the German raid on Scarborough, the battle of Dogger Bank, and the battle of Jutland. Written from the point of view of her Chief Medical Officer, so we get a very unusual view of life onboard a warship, including his experiences below decks during Jutland, with no idea of what was happening outside his armoured sick bay. The title was well chosen – the key emotion that comes across throughout the book is one of frustration – sometimes with the tedium of life onboard, sometimes with the inability to get to grips with the German fleet, and sometimes with the wider reaction to the Navy’s performance (Read Full Review)
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We Are Accustomed to Doing our Duty - German Auxiliaries with the British Army, 1793-95, Paul Demet. Combines an account of the British role in the campaigns in the Low Countries in 1793-95 with a detailed examination of the organisation, performance and uniforms of the German contingents hired for those campaigns. A useful examination of the role of Britain’s hired German troops during this series of generally unsuccessful campaigns, which ended with the French occupying the entire Low Countries for the next twenty years! (Read Full Review)
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Flight from Colditz, Tony Hoskins. A look at a recent successful attempt to see if the famous glider constructed by POWs in the attic of Colditz Castle could actually have flown, starting with a brief account of the main escape attempts from the castle and a longer examination of the original glider project, followed by the story of the 2012 recreation of the glider, which saw the replica successfully launched from the roof of the castle, glide across the river outside and land where the POWs had hoped it would! A splendid book written by the leader of the team that built and flew the successful replica(Read Full Review)
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6 February 2022

Pertinax – the son of a Slave who became Roman Emperor, Simon Elliott. A look at the times and life of a short lived Emperor whose life turns out to be far more interesting than his brief time in power would suggest. The first half of the book focuses on the nature of the world he lived in – how life worked for a freed slave and his family, how the army was organised in that period and what Pertinax’s career would probably have been like, before enough information emerges about the man to allow the last couple of chapters to focus directly on him. An excellent study of a significant but rather obscure Emperor (Read Full Review)
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Operation Fall Weiss - German Paratroopers in the Poland Campaign 1939, Stephan Janzyk. Mainly built around a sizable collection of photographs showing the German paratroopers, with a mix of pictures from Poland and portraits of some of the individual involved, combined with a detailed combat history of a group of units that didn’t actually do anything significant during the Polish campaign. Good for the completist with an interest in the German airborne forces, perhaps of less interest to more general readers (Read Full Review)
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Egypt 1801- The End of Napoleon’s Eastern Empire, Stuart Reid. Looks at the successful British campaign to expel the French from Egypt, carried out in a hurry to make sure that France wasn’t able to retain the area in the upcoming peace treaty, and that was one of the few clear British military successes in the first half of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Covers the formation and training of the British army under Abercromby, the impressive opposed landing at Aboukir, the eventual successes under General Hely-Hutchinson, as well as the French response and the Ottoman involvement (Read Full Review)
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23 January 2022

The Kaiser’s Cruisers 1871-1918, Aidan Dodson and Dirk Nottelmann. Looks at the small cruisers that served in the navy of Imperial Germany, from its formation in the 1870s to the aftermath of the First World War, a period that saw the last sail powered cruisers replaced by recognisably modern steam powered turret armed warships after a prolonged period of debate, and Tirpitz come to dominate the Navy with the support of Wilhelm II. Splits the design process and service records into separate sections, so we can trace the development of the cruiser and then get a good overview of how the type performed in combat (Read Full Review)
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Yugoslav Armies 1941-45, Nigel Thomas. A useful account of the four different Yugoslavian armies that fought against the Germans (for at least some of the time) during the Second World War – the pre-war Yugoslav Army, the Royal Yugoslav army in exile, the Chetniks and the Partisans (who also fought a vicious civil war against each other). Includes a useful summary of each armies combat record, as well as the normal structure and uniform sections (Read Full Review)
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Anson’s Navy – Building a Fleet for Empire, 1744-1763, Brian Lavery. Looks at the Royal Navy during the period in which Anson was at its helm, showing how the more familiar navy of Nelson’s period began to emerge under Anson. Covers just about every aspect of naval life from the food to the dockyards, daily life on board to the major battles, to give a fascinating view of a Royal Navy that was significantly different to the one we are familiar with, but that was evolving into that more familiar one. (Read Full Review)
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16 January 2022

Tiger vs Churchill North-West Europe, 1944-45, Neil Grant. Looks at the design and development of these two tanks as well as how they performed in Normandy. Acknowledges that they didn’t perform the same role and rarely actually clashed face to face, but still does a good job of comparing their contributions to the overall campaign and examining how well they performed their intended role as well as looking at one of the few large scale clashes between the two (Read Full Review)
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The Viking Siege of Paris – Longships raid the Seine, AD 885-86, Si Sheppard. Looks at a rare example of a lengthy Viking siege, the year-long but unsuccessful siege of Paris. Sets the siege in the context of the internal power struggles for the Carolingian Empire and the split nature of secular and religious authority in the period (with key commanders of the defence coming from the church), as well as the aims of the Viking raiders, then follows with a good account of the lengthy siege itself, with its focus on the bridges connecting Paris to the banks of the Seine (Read Full Review)
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Hitler’s Navy – The Kriegsmarine in World War II, Gordon Williamson. Based on the same author’s fourteen earlier volumes on the German navy, but with a chapter on the operational history of the Kriegsmarine added. As a result we get good sections on less familiar types of vessels – the minesweepers, patrol boats and sub-chasers, as well as sizable sections on the S-Boats and U-Boats, which were in many ways the most effective part of the Kreigsmarine, as well as a look at the more famous surface warships (Read Full Review)
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9 January 2022

Weapons of the Samurai, Stephen Turnbull. A very useful look at all samurai weapons apart from the Katana – how they developed, how they were used, what impact they had on the battlefield and how that may have changed over time, all supported by an impressive array of sources including fascinating battle reports listing all of the wounds suffered by survivors, and contemporary illustrations that give a fine visual record of particular periods (Read Full Review)
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War in Japan 1467-1615, Stephen Turnbull. Takes a thematic approach to the longest and most confusing period of warfare in Japanese history, so avoids getting bogged down in the seemingly endless procession of minor feuds and battles, and instead looks at a selection of key families, as well as the process of reunification that eventually ended the chaos. Could have done with a little more on the Onin War and the collapse of the Shogun’s authority, but otherwise this is an excellent account of this rather confusing period (Read Full Review)
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US Submarine vs IJN Antisubmarine Escort – The Pacific, 1941-45, Mark Stille. A look at the clash between US submarines and purpose build Japanese convoy escort vessels in the Pacific, a rather one sided battle in which the Americans overcame a slow start to almost wipe out Japanese merchant shipping while the Japanese escorts arrived late and appear to have been largely ineffective. Includes length sections on the development of the submarines and escort vessels and their technical specifications, followed by a year by year and base by base look at the exploits of the US submarines (Read Full Review)
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2 January 2022

Mortar Gunner on the Eastern Front Vol I: From the Moscow Winter Offensive to Operation Zitadelle, Dr Hans Heinz Rehfeldt. The first part of a two part diary written by a soldier in the Grossdeutschland regiment then division, covering the period from his arrival at the front outside Moscow in the winter of 1941, through the battles of 1942 and on to the  failure of Operation Citadel in 1943. Paints a vivid picture of the life of a front line soldier during a period after the initial rush of success on the Soviet Union, but when it could still win victories as well as suffering defeats over both winters (Read Full Review)
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Badon and the Early Wars for Wessex circa 500 to 710, David Cooper. An interesting attempt to locate some of the mysterious battles between the Britons and the early Anglo-Saxons, using a wide range of sources and techniques to try and pin down the territories controlled by the combatants and examine the various suggestions for locations to see which ones make most sense. Sometimes suffers from too much application of modern military techniques to a very different world, but otherwise very good, with some interesting ideas about this very obscure period (Read Full Review)
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SBD Dauntless vs A6M Zero-Sen: Pacific Theatre 1941-44, Donald Nijboer. A look at the clashes between the most successful American dive bomber of the Pacific War and by far the most important Japanese naval fighter of the conflict, covering both the Zero’s effectiveness at stopping the SPD carrying out attacks, and the ability of the SPD to stand up to the Zero in air to air combat. Starts with a great deal of technical and general background before moving onto detailed examinations of the direct clashes between the two types, using sources from both sides to present a realistic view of their successes and failures (Read Full Review)
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12 December 2021

Condottiere 1300-1500 – infamous medieval mercenaries, David Murphy. A study of the infamous mercenaries who dominated Italian warfare during the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance, fighting for the many city states and small powers that dominated Italy in the prolonged series of lengthy but indecisive wars of the period. Looks at the nature of condottiere warfare, how they were recruited and organised, how they fought, how loyal they were to their employers (and the reverse), and the increasingly complex logistical systems created by the Italian cities to support their armies (Read Full Review)
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The Siege that Changed the World – Paris 1870-1871, NS ‘Tank’ Nash. A detailed study of the Prussian led siege of Paris of 1870-71, combined with a more general look at the entire Franco-Prussian War. Does a good job of putting the siege within the context of the wider war, as well as looking at the military and civilian aspects of life in Paris under siege, the problems faced by the Germans, and the attempts to raise new armies across unoccupied France (Read Full Review)
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Stalin’s Armour 1941-1945, Soviet Tanks at War, Anthony Tucker-Jones. Starts with a good examination of pre-war Soviet tank development, the strengths and flaws of the Soviet tank forces of 1941 and their impact on the fighting in 1941, as well as the efforts to evacuate the Soviet tank industry east, but later tends to turn into a general account of the fighting on the Eastern Front with less focus on the armoured aspects (Read Full Review)
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5 December 2021

Roman Conquests – The Danube Frontier, Michael Schmitz. A study of the two and a half centuries of warfare that took the Romans from the east coast of the Adriatic to the northern banks of the Danube, in a series of conflicts that stretch from the height of the Republic, through the foundation of the Empire and onto the Dacian wars of Trajan and on to the largely defensive wars of Marcus Aurelius. Brings together a series of conflicts that are rarely connected, but that saw the Romans slow push the frontier of Empire away from the most dangerous approach route to Italy, later to be used by Attila the Hun (Read Full Review)
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Japan’s Pacific War – Personal Accounts of the Emperor’s Warriors, Peter Williams. A fascinating series of interviews with Japanese veterans who had been involved in the fighting against Australian forces during the Second World War, with a focus on the land battles, but also interviews with pilots and sailors. An invaluable series of accounts that give us some idea of what life was like in the Japanese armed forces during the war, as well as the veterans attitudes to the war in general, to their own superiors and to their opponents (Read Full Review)
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The Battle of the White Mountain 1620 and the Bohemian Revolt, 1618-1622, Laurence Spring. A rare example of an English language study of part of the Thirty Years War, looking at the Bohemian revolt and the key battle of the White Mountain which saw the revolt’s main army defeated and resulted in the fall of Prague and the eventual exile of Frederick V Elector Palatinate from both Bohemia and his original lands, as well as drawing other powers into the conflict, helping it to expand across Germany. A good account both of the revolt and the battle that effectively ended it (Read Full Review)
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28 November 2021

Muscovy’s Soldiers - The Emergence of the Russian Army 1462-1689, Michael Fredholm von Essen. Looks at the three generations of Muscovite armies between their emergence from Mongol rule and the reforms of Peter the Great, starting with the Mongol inspired army, moving onto the political and military reforms of Ivan VI the Terrible, and on to the more westernised units formed by the early Romanovs. An interesting look at how Muscovy’s history and the very different nature of her borders shaped her army, forcing her to field troops that could cope against Tartar raids or in clashes with European armies (Read Full Review)
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Case Red – the Collapse of France, Robert Forczyk. A compelling look at the second part of the campaign in the west in 1940, the German attack on the French defensive line on the Somme and the advance across France that followed once that line had been broken. A very valuable study of this part of the campaign, which is often ignored or at best covered very quickly in most English language accounts of the war. Although I don’t agree with all of the authors views, they are all well argued, and the account of the fighting is excellent and covers plenty of topics that are often ignored, including the role of the French air force and the brief and unsuccessful Italian invasion (Read Full Review)
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Air War Varsity, Martin W. Bowman. A look at the final major airborne operation on the western front in the Second World War, Montgomery’s truly massive crossing of the Rhine around Wesel which combined a traditional river crossing with paratroopers and gliderborne troops, to break the last serious German defensive position on the northern part of the front, opening the way for the final advance across northern Germany to the Baltic. Mainly built around eyewitness accounts from survivors of the attack, combined with a brief narrative of events (Read Full Review)
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21 November 2021

US Navy Frigates of the Cold War, Mark Stille. Looks at the US Navy’s post war ocean anti-submarine warfare escort vessels, designated as destroyer escorts until 1975 then as frigates, examining their anti-submarine weaponry, their actual role in the fleet, and the seven post-war classes that were produced to fulfil that role (Read Full Review)
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The Battle of the Catalaunian Fields AD 451, Evan Michael Schultheis. A look at the famous clash between Atilla the Hun and a Roman led army that is sometimes described as the battle that saved Western Europe from being conquered by the Huns, but that actually came a year before Atilla invaded Italy, and only a few years before the final collapse of the Western Roman Empire. Places the battle within the context of fading Roman power in the west, the wider series of wars against Atilla, and the impact it had on the collapse of Rome (Read Full Review)
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Large Scale Warship Models – from Kits to Scratch Building, Kerry Jang. A guide to how to build what must be the largest type of models produced in any significant numbers, hugely impressive warship models that can be almost three meters long! An interesting combination of impressive examples of these huge models and very detailed technical discussions of issues (including a page of notes on glue that covered several times more types than I realised existed!). Should serve as inspiration for anyone considering getting into this hobby, as well as a useful guide to the art itself (Read Full Review)
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14 November 2021

The Netherlands East Indies Campaign 1941-42 – Japan’s Quest for Oil, Marc Lohnstein. A look at one of the less familiar Japanese conquests of 1941-42, the complex but rapid conquest of the vast areas of the Netherlands East Indies, a skilful campaign marred by the sadly inevitable war crimes and massacres by the conquering Japanese. A good narrative of the battle that clears up the confusion that can come from shorter overviews, and shows the Japanese to have had a clear plan that they implemented successfully (Read Full Review)
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Tanks of D-Day 1944 – Armor of the beaches of Normandy and southern France, Steven J. Zaloga. A useful look at all of the ‘funnies’, the special tanks that were considered for use on D-Day, looking at their development, purpose and suitability, followed by an examination of how they were deployed and how they performed on each of the D-Day beaches and during Operation Dragoon. Nice to have the descriptions of these vehicles combined with a good account of how they actually performed in battle (Read Full Review)
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Armies of the War of the Grand Alliance 1688-97, Gabriele Esposito. A look at the armies of this lengthy but rather indecisive war, which acted as something of a precursor to be more famous conflicts of the 18th century, but still involved most of the main armies of Western Europe, and included the start of the Jacobite wars. A useful guide to these armies, combined with a chronology of the main war and the Glorious Revolution (Read Full Review)
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7 November 2021

Liberty Factory – the untold story of Henry Kaiser’s Oregon Shipyards, Peter J Marsh. A detailed examination of the Kaiser Ship Yards of the US Pacific North-West, newly built war emergency yards that ended revolutionising ship building and producing hundreds of Liberty Ships, Victory Ships, Escort Carriers and other essential vehicles in an area that had previously focused on high skilled wooden ship building rather than the large scale production of metal merchant ships. A good text, supported by excellent contemporary photographs, covering the ships themselves, the working end of the yards, and the massive support effort required to keep the work going. (Read Full Review)
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The Last Days of the High Seas Fleet – From Mutiny to Scapa Flow, Nicholas Jellicoe. Looks at the dramatic last few months of the German High Seas Fleet, from the mutinies that saw the officers lose control of most of the fleet, through the trip into internment at Scapa Flow and on to the famous scuttling of the fleet. Includes an excellent account of the dramatic day of the scuttling, which makes one realise that it was a truly massive event, and helps one understand the apparently over the top reaction of the handful of British sailors in Scapa Flow at the time. Also goes on to look at the post-war salvage operations, an impressive story in its own right. (Read Full Review)
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Heroes of Coastal Command – the RAF’s Maritime War 1939-1945, Andrew D. Bird. A series of short biographies of Coastal Command pilots that gives some idea of how varied the command’s roles were, covering operations from the Bay of Biscay to the Arctic north, and the Channel Coast to Norway. Also gives a more sobering idea of just how high the costs were of the Coastal Command campaign, with several of the men covered not surviving the war, and all of the accounts including a regular death toll. (Read Full Review)
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31 October 2021

The Third Reich is Listening – Inside German codebreaking 1939-45, Christian Jennings. An excellent study of the largely successful German codebreaking efforts of the Second World War, which in many ways equalled the achievements of their more famous Allied opponents. Gives us a good history of German codebreaking, its wartime structures (with ten different agencies involved!), how the Allied and neutral codes worked and how they were broken into, and how the results of all of this work were used (or squandered) by the German military. Goes a long way to rebalancing a picture dominated by the Allied codebreakers (Read Full Review)
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U-Boat Assault on American - Why the US Was Unprepared for War in the Atlantic, Ken Brown. Looks at how the doctrine and leadership of the US Navy and Air Force left the US East Coast almost entirely undefended when the U-boats arrived early in 1942, leading to the ‘Second Happy Time’, the period in which the U-boats were at their most destructive, despite the US having been increasingly involved in the Battle of the Atlantic throughout 1941. The result is a very useful addition to the literature on the battle of the Atlantic, tracing a series of developments that led to this near disaster (Read Full Review)
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The Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club – Naval Aviation in the Vietnam War, Thomas McKelvey Cleaver. A look at the role of US naval aviation in the Vietnam War, starting with the Gulf of Tonkin incident which triggered direct US military involvement, through the slow escalation of the bombing campaign until it reached a scale above that of the Pacific War, and on to the final burst of bombing that stopped North Vietnam’s Easter Offensive. Combines chapters looking at the overall campaign with chapters focusing in more detail on air-to-air combat, looking at the aircraft and weapons on both sides, and the way in which the Navy focused on the skills of its pilots, creating the famous ‘Top Gun’ school (Read Full Review)
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24 October 2021

From Robber Barons to Courtiers – the Changing World of the Lovells of Titchmarsh, Monika E Simon. Follows the history of a family that rose from a fairly obscure start in England to a position of dangerous prominence during the reigns of Richard III and Henry VII, with Francis Lovell becoming 1st Viscount Lovell, but staying loyal to Richard III’s cause even after his death, and disappearing after the battle of Stoke Field, while one of the last descendants of the family was Jane Parker, who was executed for her role in the fall of Katherine Howard (Read Full Review)
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P-47 Thunderbolt vs German Flak Defences: Western Europe 1943-45, Jonathan Bernstein. An examination of the P-47 and the various Flak guns used against it in the European theatre, the organisation of the Flak batteries and Fighter Groups, the strategic situation they were caught up, and their actual combat record in 1944-45, from pre D-Day sweeps across occupied France to the final advance into Germany. A clear example of a duel with a winner, as the Allied fighter bombers roamed almost at will across the battlefield (Read Full Review)
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Happy Odyssey, Sir Adrian Carton de Wiart. The autobiography of one of the most unusual British generals of the Second World War, born in Belgium but educated in Britain, fighting in the Boer War and First World War before spending the interwar years on a hunting estate he was given in Poland, he returned for the Second World War, fighting in Norway, spending severel years as a POW in Italy, then ending the war as Churchill’s personal envoy to China! This is an engaging autobiography of one of the most adventurous officers in the British Army, and one whose unusual life means it differs greatly from the majority of memoirs (Read Full Review)
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17 October 2021

50th at Bay - The Years of Defeat: A History of the 50th Northumbrian Division 1939 to September 1942, B.S. Barnes. A compelling history of the 50th Division’s experiences in the first few years of the Second World War, a period that saw it caught up in the defeat in France in 1940 and the resulting evacuation from Dunkirk, then sent to Africa in time to take part in the battle of Gazala, where its 150th Brigade was destroyed. Built around an impressive array of eyewitness accounts, which give us a real feel for the struggles of the division during some of the darkest hours of the Second World War (Read Full Review)
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The Ruhr 1943: The RAF’s brutal fight for Germany’s industrial heartland, Richard Worrall. An excellent account of RAF Bomber Command’s attack on the Ruhr in the first half of 1943, the first campaign in which Bomber Command emerged as a truly effective weapon, inflicting heavy damage on one of Germany’s industrial heartlands, although with an uncertain impact.  Looks at the equipment available to both sides, the organisation of the German defences, and the conduct of the actual raids, finishing with a good examination of the possible impact of the raids (Read Full Review)
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Douglas XB-19 – America’s Giant World War II Intercontinental Bomber, William Wolf. A look at the Douglas XB-19, the USAAF’s largest bomber from 1941 to 1946, but one that was obsolete by the time it made its first flight. Examines the still impressive aircraft in great detail, making it clear how much of a technical achievement it was, and looking at how it contributed to the development of the engines used on the B-29 (Read Full Review)
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10 October 2021

Yorkshire Women at War - Story of the Women's Land Army Hostels, Marion Jefferies. Looks at the accommodation hostels used by the Women’s Land Army in Yorkshire, the experiences of the Land Girls living in them and the problems encountered running them. An interesting study of an aspect of the Land Army that I didn’t even realise existed, but that played a major role in the life of many of the women who served in it during its ten years. Includes memories from the Land Girls, and a set of reports from the chief organiser for North Yorkshire and post-war Yorkshire to give a good idea of the pleasures and perils of life in these hostels (Read Full Review)
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Warships in the Spanish Civil War, Angus Konstam. A look at the naval side of the Spanish Civil War, which saw the larger Republican fleet fail to take advantage of its numerical advantage, allowing the rebels to ship troops from Africa to the mainland and limiting the governments ability to import arms and supplies. A good account of the fighting at sea during the civil war, as well as a useful examination of the ships involved (Read Full Review)
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The M1 Carbine, Roger Out. A detailed examination of the American M1 Carbine, developed for use by support troops, the artillery etc during the Second World War, but which went on to be used in a wider range of roles in the post-war period, gaining a somewhat controversial reputation when misused as a frontline weapon. A very good examination of the development of the carbine and how it worked, followed by a very detailed look at the minor changes during its production run and the markings used by the many different manufacturers who built the M1 (Read Full Review)
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3 October 2021

Mitsubishi A6M Zero, Robert Jackson Mitsubishi A6M Zero, Robert Jackson. Combines a useful history of the Zero (looking at the history of Japanese naval aviation, the development of the Zero, its service record in China and the Pacific) and the Allied reaction to it), with a detailed examination of the available model kits from the early Airfix kit to the current state of the art, along with an interesting model showcase, following the construction and modification of a Trumpeter A6M2 in 1/24 scale. Very good if you are interesting in modelling the Zero (Read Full Review)
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Battleship Duke of York – An Anatomy from Building to Breaking, Ian Buxton & Ian Johnston. Largely focuses on the construction of the Duke of York, using a collection of photographs taken by the builders combined with their regular shipyard reports. Gives a really impressive view of just how much effort went into building these battleships, and how impressive the shipyards that produced them were. Also includes useful plans of the Duke of York, and photographs from when she was being broken up, to give a good idea of the birth and death of a major warship. (Read Full Review)
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British Naval Weapons of World War Two – The John Lambert Collection Vol III: Coastal Forces Weapons, ed Norman Friedman. The third and final of three impressive books built around plans and drawings produced by John Lambert, looking at the small boats used by British Coastal Forces and the weapons they carried, accompanied by a useful introduction to the topic by Norman Friedman. A very impressive selection of detailed plans covering just about every element of these boats, from the radar antenna to their depth charges and torpedoes as well as the weapons carried by submarines. (Read Full Review)
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19 September 2021

Images of War – M2/ M3 Bradley, David Doyle. A photographic study of the Bradley infantry fighting vehicle, focusing largely on detailed pictures of the main versions of the M2 and M3 and the related M270 MLRS, with a final chapter looking at the Bradley’s deployment in battle, mainly in Iraq and Afghanistan. A little too much focus on the detailed photos of the variants for my taste, but still a good visual guide to this vehicle. (Read Full Review)
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Pacific Carrier War, Carrier Combat from Pearl Harbor to Okinawa, Mark E. Stille. A look at the five main carrier battles of the Pacific War – Coral Sea, Midway, the Eastern Solomons, Santa Cruz and the Philippine Sea – the five times that Japanese and American fleet carriers clashed during the war, with most coming in 1942 before the final destruction of the Japanese naval air arm in 1944. Looks at the state of both naval air forces before the war, how they performed in each battle, how they changed over time, and what gave the Americans the edge that saw them achieve their aim in five of the six battles (Read Full Review)
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12 September 2021

A Guide to British Military History - The Subject and the Sources, Ian F. W. Beckett. A look at the current state of academic British Military History, tracing the changes in the historigraphical and methodological techniques in use, followed by an examination of the main areas of study in the military history of the period since 1500. An often valuable guide to the current state of academic historical work, although a bit too dismissive of the better ‘popular’ works, which often provide a better overview of a topic (Read Full Review)
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Women and Weapons in the Viking World, Leszak Gardela. An excellent study of all of the evidence connecting women and weapons in the Viking world, including the written record of the sagas and histories, artistic representations, and the archaeological record, in particular the contents of a number of the graves of women that contain military equipment. Avoids sensationalism to produce a thoughtful and very well researched examination of the ways in which Viking women may have been connected to those weapons, including the possibility of them being female warriors (Read Full Review)
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RAF on the Offensive – The Rebirth of Tactical Air Power 1940-1941, Greg Baughen. Looks at the slow evolution of the RAF in 1940-41, a time in which RAF orthodoxy believed that the only way to win the war was with a fleet of heavy bombers, despite an ever increasing amount of evidence to suggest that close support of the army on the battlefield was at least as important. Makes a good argument for his case that the RAF hierarchy left the force less effective in 1941 than it had been in 1940, while tracing the slow evolution of proper close support in North Africa (Read Full Review)
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5 September 2021

With Marshal Foch – A British General at Allied Supreme Headquarters April-November 1918, Lt General Sir John de Cane, KCB. The memoir of the senior British liaison officer at General Foch’s supreme Allied HQ during the pivotal events of 1918, and thus a witness to how Foch reacted to the German attacks early in 1918 and the victorious Allied counterattacks. Unusual in that it appears to have originally been written just for de Cane’s own private use, almost immediately after the war, so is likely to be entirely honest, given that he wasn’t expecting it to be read by his former colleagues (Read Full Review)
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The Anglo-Spanish War 1655-1660: Volume 1: The War in the West Indies, Paul Sutton. A look at the first part of Cromwell’s war with Spain, looking at the almost disastrous attempt to invade the Spanish empire in America, which began with a costly failed attack on Hispaniola before the survivors of the army just about managed to conquer Jamaica. Looks at the background to the war, the creation of the combined army and navy for the expedition, its divided leadership and the events of the campaign to the immediate aftermath of the conquest of Jamaica and the return home of the most senior commanders (Read Full Review)
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Deadlier than the Male – Wives of the Generals 1677-1937, Trina Beckett. A look at the lives of a selection of military wives, ranging from the hugely influential Sarah Churchill to the adventurous tale of Juana Smith, with six chapters looking at one person each, and one chapter looking at a selection of late Victorian wives, allowing for more direct comparison between their experiences and influence. Does a good job of proving that the experiences of each of these women was very different, and that many of them were highly influential (Read Full Review)
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29 August 2021

History of the Third Seminole War 1849-1858, Joe Knetsch, John Missall and Mary Lou Missall. Looks at the last of the three wars fought against the Seminoles of Florida, in an ultimately failed attempt to completely remove them from the recently formed state. An interesting conflict in which many US regulars appear to have had some sympathy for their opponents, and which ended with the symbolic removal of some of the Seminole leaders, but left behind a viable population that still lives in the peninsula(Read Full Review)
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How the Army Made Britain a Global Power 1688-1815, Jeremy Black. A look at the role of the British army in the creation of the British Empire, arguing that it had an uniquely world wide role, and was much more important in the expansion of British power than it is often given credit for. Does a good job of demonstrating just how varied the experiences of most British army officers were during this period (Read Full Review)
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A Scottish Blockade Runner in the American Civil War – Joannes Wyllie of the Steam Ad-Vance, John F. Messner. Looks at the experiences of a former teacher who went to sea, quickly rose through the ranks in the Merchant Navy and ended up playing a major role in the success of the blockade runner Ad-Vance, sometimes operating as its first officer and sometimes as its captain. A vivid account of his activities, using a mix of contemporary records, memories of Wyllie’s own talks and an article in the People’s Friend written by a friend of Wyllie (Read Full Review)
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22 August 2021

Battle of Manila – Nadir of Japanese Barbarism, 3 February-3 March 1945, Miguel Miranda. An account of the brutal battle to liberate Manila, a battle that happened because the Naval forces holding Manila ignored the Japanese Army’s plans to withdraw from the city and fight elsewhere. The result was a month long battle that left large parts of the city devastated, and huge numbers of civilians dead, many as a result of Japanese massacres. Written by an inhabitant of Manila whose family were caught up in the events of the siege,so we get an unusually personal connection to the battle, combined with good research (Read Full Review)
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Germany and the Great War: Western Front First Year - Neuve Chapelle - First Ypres - Loos, Joshua Bilton. A splendid selection of photographs covering the experiences of Germany on all fronts during 1915, along with some pictures showing the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman experiences. A rather misleading title, but benefits from it by covering a wider range of subjects, with only one of the six chapters looking at the Western Front(Read Full Review)
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The Final Advance - September to November 1918, Andrew Rawson. The final entry in a series of books on the Western Front, this entry looks at the battles to penetrate the Hindenburg Line and the final advance, as well as the negotiations that ended the war. Has a very different feel to most books on the Western Front, with a genuinely successful breakthrough of a major defensive line and a German retreat that lasted to the end of the war. (Read Full Review)
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15 August 2021

Early French Aviation 1905-1930, Graham M. Simons. A splendid collection of photographs of early French aircraft, mainly from the pre 1914 era, the first decade of powered heavier than air flight. Includes a fascinating mix of the sensible and the wacky, all supported by very well researched captions which provide technical details of the aircraft as well as their fate. An excellent source for the early history of aviation in its main pre-war powerhouse. (Read Full Review)
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Samurai vs Ashigaru Japan 1543-75, Stephen Turnbull. Looks at three key sixteenth century battles in which the traditional Samurai of the Takeda faced armies of increasingly dangerous Ashigaru infantry, losing the first and last and only winning the second because their opponents were outnumbered and rather badly organised. An interesting look at a key development in the Japanese military history that probably helped unify Japan and end the long Warring States period. (Read Full Review)
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Advance to Victory July to September 1918, Andrew Rawson. The penultimate entry in an excellent series on the Western Front, this volume focuses on the defeat of the final German offensive, the Allied counterattacks that led to the ‘black day’ of the German Army on 8 August, and the prolonged Allied advance that took them up to the Hindenburg Line, recovering the ground lost in the earlier German offensives of 1918(Read Full Review)
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8 August 2021

Kongo-Class Battleships, Lars Ahlberg and Hans Lengerer. An excellent photographic history of the Kongo class of battleships, originally built as pre First World War battlecruisers but modified twice to turn them first into battleships, then into fast battleships with the distinctive Japanese pagoda foremasts. This book combines a good history of the ships with an excellent selection of photographs, including good details on the layout of their distinctive pagoda foremasts and an honest assessment of the results of their reconstructions. (Read Full Review)
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U.S. Aircraft Carriers 1939-45, Ingo Bauernfeind. A photographic history of the US Aircraft Carrier of the Second World War, covering the Fleet, Escort and Light carriers with a background history of each class, and a brief history and at least one photograph for every carrier that saw service during the war. Also includes a detailed diving tour of the Saratoga, a guided tour of the Hornet (now a museum ship) and a look at the post-war career of the Essex class carriers (Read Full Review)
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German Tank Destroyers, Pierre Tiquet. An excellent collection of photographs of the main German tank destroyers of the Second World War, with a somewhat less satisfactory text that wanders between excellent sections analysis the performance of the vehicles and otheres that can be rather too congratulationary in tone and appears to use wartime Nazi propaganda for many of its eyewitness accounts, without explaining where each source came from. (Read Full Review)
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1 August 2021

Spitfire Aces of the Channel Front 1941-43, Andrew Thomas. Covers the costly three years of ‘leaning over France’, where Fighter Command attempted to dominate the air over France but suffered persistent losses, including many aces and experienced leaders. Mostly filled with short accounts of each day’s fighting, focuses on the experiences of the aces, with some longer descriptions built around eyewitness accounts from the participants. Also has a useful introduction and sections on general changes to the campaign, especially the arrival of new aircraft models on both sides(Read Full Review)
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SOE: Churchill's Secret Agents, Terry Crowdy. A short history of SOE, starting with a look at its formation, organisation, the famous training regime, before spending the second half looking at SOE’s actual operations. A good introduction to the work of SOE, with a nice mix of familiar and unfamiliar operations, along with a big enough introduction to get a feel for the nature of the organisation. Good for the casual reader who doesn’t have any real prior knowledge of SOE and its operations(Read Full Review)
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No Moon as Witness, - Missions of the SOE and OSS in World War II, James Stejskal. A nice mix of a history of the SOE and OSS, allowing to compare these two fairly similar British and American organisations, and see how they interacted, as well as looking at their individual histories, training systems and operations. Greatly benefits from covering both organisations, and from selecting a number of less familiar agents and operations, so we get a broader picture of the two organisation’s operations than is often the case(Read Full Review)
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25 July 2021

Yokosuka D4Y ‘Judy’ Units, Mark Chambers with Tony Holmes. A well written look at the operational history of a dive bomber that arrived too late to be truly effective as a carrier based dive bomber, and that suffered heavy losses during the battle of the Philippine Sea, before spending the rest of the war as a land based bomber, achieving limited success in both the conventional and kamikaze roles. (Read Full Review)
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Ford M8 and M20 – The US Army’s Standard Armoured Car of WWII, David Doyle. A pictorial history of the M8 armoured car and M20 utility vehicle, both of which saw service in Italy, Normandy and north-western Europe and to a lesser extent in the Pacific. Very good material on the development of the vehicle, and close up pictures of development and test vehicles as well as modern survivors, along with a useful chapter of pictures of the vehicle in service. Probably aimed more at the modeller than the historian, and will provide many useful details of otherwise hard to examine areas (Read Full Review)
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Remembrance Poems and Readings, David Roberts. An impressive collections of poems, essays and speeches on the nature of war and the nature of remembrance, with a mix of items that would be of use at remembrance events and some that perhaps wouldn’t work if read out by anyone other than the author are still useful as thought provoking items for the reader. Includes works from the middle ages up to the modern world, with as you might expect a great many inspired by the two World Wars, but also more modern conflicts and just general thoughts on the nature and cost of war(Read Full Review)
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18 July 2021

Pioneers of Armour in the Great War, David A. Finlayson & Michael K. Cecil. Based around an account of the history of the First Australian Armoured Car Section/ First Australian Light Car Patrol written by the unit’s commander Captain E.H. James soon after the war, supported by newspaper extracts and letters from the period, tracing the unit from its origins as a volunteer unit in Australia, to the western desert of Egypt then through its role in the campaign in Palestine and Syria. Followed by a shorter account of the first tank to reach Australia, a Mark IV that was sent to help with fundraising before ending up in the Australian War Memorial. A fascinating account of the use of mainly entirely un-armoured cars in the desert during the First World War, in a unit that reminds one of the LRDG and SAS(Read Full Review)
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SA80 Assault Rifles, Neil Grant. A look at the original development, service record and repeated attempts to improve one of the most controversial series of infantry weapons to enter British service, with a deserved reputation for being unreliable and dangerously prone to jamming that eventually required a major rebuilding program to fix. As this book demonstrates, that modified version had turned into a perfectly reliable weapon, apparently popular with its users and one that will remain in service for some years to come (Read Full Review)
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Dornier Do 217 Units of World War 2, Chris Goss. Actually a chronologically organised operational history of the Do 217, with the main focus being on its use as a bomber over Britain and as an anti-shipping weapon using the first guided missiles. The result is an interesting look at the record of a bomber that entered service after the Luftwaffe’s bomber forces had passed their peak, and that suffered consistent losses during operations that often don’t get a mention in general histories of the war(Read Full Review)
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11 July 2021

Rome, Blood and Power – Reform, Murder and Popular Politics in the Late Republic 70-27 BC, Gareth C. Sampson. Looks at one of the most familiar periods in Roman history, but with a focus on the various attempts to reform the Republic to make it more stable, all of which failed until Augustus realised that the trick was to take control without actually looking like you were changing anything. An interesting approach that helps to explain why a series of apparently dominant figures, from Marius and Sulla to Pompey and Caesar proved unable to maintain their power once they had seized it by focusing on the details of the politics of the city of Rome herself (Read Full Review)
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The Americans and Germans at Bastogne – First-Hand Accounts of the Commanders who Fought, Gary Sterne. A look at the siege of Bastogne as seen by a range of the American and German commanders involved in the battle, giving us an idea of just how differently the two sides saw the battle as it was evolving. On occasions it perhaps tells us more about who various German commanders wanted to blame for their failures (never themselves), but even so we still get some valuable insights into how they saw the battle, including a constant belief that the Americans were attempting to break out, and how late into the battle it was before the Germans believed that Bastogne was actually cut off (Read Full Review)
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The Luftwaffe and the War at Sea 1939-1945, ed. David Isby. Looks at the rivalry between the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe over control of all air activities over the sea, with both sides attempting to claim the right to control all aircraft operating over the sea and coastal areas, a battle very easily won by Goering’s Luftwaffe, and how that battle impacted on German naval activities and the battle of the Atlantic. Both sides come across as somewhat delusional, making unjustifiable claims, and showing the entirely typical desire of the Third Reich’s armed forces of finding someone else to blame for their failures (Read Full Review)
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4 July 2021

The Light Division in the Peninsular War 1811-1814, Tim Saunders and Rob Yuill. Part two of this history of the Light Division covers the largely victorious final four years of the war, and covers the siege of Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz, the battles of Salamanca, Vitoria and the Pyrenees and the invasion of France. A well written text, all supported plentiful extracts from contemporary diaries, largely covering the period after the death of the division’s most famous and succesful commander, General Craufurd.(Read Full Review)
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USS Enterprise (CV-6), David Doyle. A splendid pictorial history of USS Enterprise, with an impressive selection of photographs that trace her from construction to scrapping, along with all of her combat experiences. This is an impressive collection of photographs, allowing us to see every aspect of her career, including her fairly extensive battle damage, as well as a good selection of detailed photographs of individual aspects of parts of the ship(Read Full Review)
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Japanese Armies 1868-1877 – The Boshin War and Satsuma Rebellion, Gabriele Esposito. Looks at the armies of the two wars that saw the Japanese Shogunate overthrown by pro-Imperial, anti-Foreign forces, who were then in turn defeated by the westernised forces of the newly restored Emperor. As a result we see two wars in which medieval samurai could be found fighting alongside and against modern Westernised infantry, making this one of the most varied examples of a Men-at-Arms you will ever find! (Read Full Review)
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27 June 2021

They Shall Not Pass - the French Army on the Western Front 1914-1918, Ian Sumner. Built around an impressive array of first hand accounts from veterans of the French Army on the Western Front, combined with a history of the French contribution to the fighting, which for most of the war was the most significant part of the Allied war effort in the west, and allowing us to trace how the original enthusiasm slowly disappeared, largely to be replaced by a mix of determination and cynicism. A very useful addition to the English language literature on the war, giving us a better understanding of the massive French contribution to the eventual Allied victory. (Read Full Review)
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Caesar’s Great Success – Sustaining the Roman Army on Campaign, Alexander Merrow, Agostino Von Hassell & Greagory Starace. Looks at the role of logistics in Caesar’s military campaigns, as well as the food eaten by the Roman army, the concepts behind modern logistics and how they might apply to Caesar’s campaign in Gaul in particular, and how well Caesar performed in the task of keeping his armies supplied. An interesting approach to Caesar’s campaigns, helped greatly by the amount of attention he gave it in his own writing, combined with an intelligent look at how other elements of the campaigns must have been guided by the need for supplies. Also comes with some fun Roman recipies to try out(Read Full Review)
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The Eastern Fleet and the Indian Ocean 1942-1944, Charles Stephenson. Looks at the difficult war experienced by the British Eastern Fleet, which was outclassed by the Japanese in 1942, largely hollowed out to help other fleets in 1943 and was only able to go back onto the offensive in 1944, once the Japanese navy had been largely neutralised by the US Navy in the Pacific. Makes a good argument that the poor quality of Fleet Air Arm aircraft in 1942 combined with the lack of any real doctrine for using large carrier air groups would have given the Japanese an advantage even against the full Britist fleet, but also argues that the Navy and in particular Admiral Somerville, actually did rather well in these difficult circumstances (Read Full Review)
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20 June 2021

Rome & Parthia: Empires at War: Ventidus, Antony and the Second Romano-Parthian War 40-20 BC, Gareth C. Sampson. Looks at the war that started with a Parthain invasion of Rome’s eastern provinces after the victory of the triumvirs at Philippi and that saw both sides carry out unsuccessful invasions of each others territory during a war that was repeated disrupted by civil wars within both powers. Not the best known of Romans wars from this period, and rather over-shadowded by the rivaly between Octavian and Antony, but still an interesting conflict and one that demonstrates the problems faced by the two empires as they expanded towards each other.(Read Full Review)
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The Avro Type 698 Vulcan Design and Development, David W. Fildes. A look at the design and development of the Vulcan bomber, almost entirely presented using original documents, including material from AVRO, the Air Minstry, RAE, RAF and other interested parties. We look at the original idea that developed into the Vulcan, the design and construction of small scale test aircraft and the first prototypes, and the ongoing development process that turned the prototypes into a satisfactory service aircraft, then kept updating it, first in an attempt to improve its high altitude performance, then to make it more suited for the new low level role. The heavy use of contemporary documents makes it quite a dry read in places, but also makes the book of great value if you are interested in the process of aircraft design. (Read Full Review)
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The Price of Victory - The Red Army's Casualties in the Great Patriotic War, Lev Lopukhovsky & Boris Kavalerchik. Looks at the various attempts to produce ‘official’ figures for the Soviet casualties during the Second World War, arguing that they are all deeply flawed, underestimate the number of casualties and are largely politically motiviated. The authors also attempt to produce their own figures, using many of the same sources as their opponents, but coming up with a much higher figure. The resulting book is somewhat hard going, as its partly based around a detailed analysis of statistics and partly around an argument with the authors of the official work, but does make a convincing case.(Read Full Review)
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13 June 2021

A Waste of Blood & Treasure - The 1799 Anglo-Russian Invasion of the Netherlands, Philip Ball. A look at one of the least succesful British campaigns of the Revolutionary Wars, the Anglo-Russian attempt to free the Netherlands from French control that ended with a negotiated retreat, largely on French terms, after three costly battles fought in difficult terrain close to the Dutch coast. Looks at the reasons for the failure of the expedition, as well as providing a detailed narrative of the fairly short campaign. A good study of this brief but disasterous Anglo-Russian campaign (Read Full Review)
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Rome Rules the Waves – A Naval Staff Appreciation of Ancient Rome’s Maritime Strategy, 300 BCE-500 CE, James J Bloom. An interesting idea, examining Roman naval history from the point of view of the important late 19th century and early 20th century naval strategists, in particular Mahan and Corbett, as well as the terminology of modern naval warfare. Does a good job of proving how important control of the sea was to Rome, and the loss of that control played a major role in the fall of the Western Empire, although could do with being better organised (Read Full Review)
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Battleship Bismarck – A Design and Operational History, William Garzke Jr, Robert O Dulin Jr and William Jurens, with James Cameron. The most detailed book on a single ship I’ve ever read, covering the entire history of German capital ship design after the First World War, their service records before the Bismarck’s fatal cruise, followed by a massively detailed account of the Bismarck’s one war cruise, including the battle of the Denmark Strait and the final sinking of the Bismarck, covering just about every shot fired by every ship, every bit of damage suffered by the Bismarck, all supported by evidence from the German survivors, British eyewitnesses and the dives to the wreck(Read Full Review)
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6 June 2021

Siege Warfare during the Hundred Years War – Once More into the Breach, Peter Hoskins. Looks at the vast array of sieges of castles and towns during the Hundred Years War, a war most famous for a handful of English battlefield victories, but that was dominated by the siege, from Calais to Orleans. Looks at the nature of fortifications, how sieges were conducted (and how that changed during this period), and the rise of gunpowder artillery, and in particular the impressive French royal siege train, which helped blast away the English positions in Normandy and Aquitaine in surprisingly short period at the end of the war. (Read Full Review)
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The Wars of Alexander’s Successors 323-281 BC: Volume I: Commanders & Campaigns, Bob Bennett & Mike Roberts. The first part of a study of the wars of Alexander’s Successors, concentrating on the individual commanders, their overall careers and their campaigns, leaving the details of their battles for part two. An interesting approach, with some chapters covering the entire group during key events and others focusing on the career of one successor at a time. Looks at a forty year period of near constant warfare, involving some remarkable, ambitious characters, none of whom were quite able to ever reunite Alexander’s empire.(Read Full Review)
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Objective Falaise - 8 August 1944-16 August 1944, Georges Bernage. Looks at the two largely Canadian attacks, Operations Totalize and Tractable, that were launched to capture Falaise and help close the Falaise gap from the north. A good account of these two battles, with plenty of eye witness accounts from both sides to support the narrative of these two rather different battles, all supported by an impressive array of photographs and maps, tracing how the Canadians slowly pushed back the Germans. (Read Full Review)
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30 May 2021

Images of War - China & Japan at War 1937-1945, Philip Jowett. A look at the long brutal war between China and Japan, with a good range of pictures from both sides, covering the entire course of the war from the initial incidents in the north of China, through the brutal battles that destroyed the better part of the Nationalist army and through the long brutal years of Japanese occupation on to the eventual Allied victory. A well chosen selection of pictures, supported by good captions and a useful introduction to the course of the war. (Read Full Review)
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Sydney Camm – Hurricane and Harrier Designer – Saviour of Britain, John Sweetman. A useful biography of Sydney Camm, the chief design at Hawker during their period of dominance in the 1930s and into the jet age, but who is most famous for the Hawker Hurricane, the most numerous British fighter during the Battle of Britain. Camm comes across as a somewhat divisive figure in the workplace, with an abrasive management style, but also someone who could be won over by a good argument, and with a impressive grasp of the technical aspects of aircraft design, at least until the post-war jet age (Read Full Review)
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Great Naval Battles of the Ancient Greek World, Owen Rees. A look at a selection of the most important naval battles from the heyday of Classical Greece, covering the Persian Wars, the Great Peloponnesian War and the Corinthian War, a period dominated by the rise, fall, and partial rise of Athenian naval power. Demonstrates nicely the importance of naval power in all of these wars, as well as the wide variety of naval tactics in use during this period, with some decided by skilful seamanship and the ram, others by boarding actions, while some were effectively won before the first blow was struck (Read Full Review)
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23 May 2021

Strike from the Air – The Early Years of the US Air Forces, Terry C. Treadwell. A look at the earliest days of American military aviation, from the formation of the first Army and Navy aircraft units before the First World War, to the massive (if not terribly succesful) expansions plans after American entered the war, and on to the story of American volunteers fighting for the newly independent Poland. Covers both the Army and Navy, so we get a look at the US role on the Western Front, and the rather more significant role of US Naval aviation during the first Battle of the Atlantic (Read Full Review)
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Battlecruiser Repulse: detailed in the original builder’s plans, John Roberts. A fascinating set of details plans of the battlecruiser Repulse, looking at her when newly completed in 1916 and after her major modification of 1933-36. Reveals the complexity of these major warships, as well as the small scale domestic details needed to maintain their crew, so we get to see the massive structures associated with the main guns, details of the armour protection, the layout of the engine rooms, but also the location of the bread cooling room, book stall and soda siphon!(Read Full Review)
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The Rise of the Hellenistic Kingdoms 336-250 BC, Philip Matyszak. Looks at the first period in the history of the Hellenistic kingdoms, looking at the conquests of Alexander the Great, the wars of the successors that created the three main Hellenistic kingdoms, and the prime years of those kingdoms, when they were the dominant powers of the eastern Mediterranean. Perhaps inevitably focuses largely on the wars that created the empire then broke it apart, but also looks at the wider Hellenistic world, a period of some scientific progress, as well as the creation of the famous Library of Alexandria (Read Full Review)
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9 May 2021

Soryu, Hiryu & Unryu Class Aircraft Carriers in the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II, Lars Ahlberg & Hans Lengerer. A detailed examination of the Soryu and Hiryu and the closely related Unryu class medium carriers, with good sections on the reasons for their construction, their physical layouts, their aviation facilities, where they fit in the overall history of Japanese carriers, and for those that actually had one their combat careers. Very detailed, with some very technical sections, but generally readable, and providing a good operational and design history of these important Japanese carriers (Read Full Review)
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The Patton Tank Cold War Warrior, Michael Green. Focuses on the first major US tank to emerge after the Second World War, the M46/ M47/ M48 Patton, a family of tanks originally developed from the wartime M26 Pershing but that evolved into a much more capable modern design, and that in a very modified form is still in service. Combines a good technical history of these three Pattons with useful operational information, all supported by an excellent collection of photographs, in particular those looking at the interior of the tank (Read Full Review)
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Parliament’s Generals – Supreme Command & Politics during the British Wars 1642-51, Malcolm Wanklyn. A look at how politics influenced the careers of the first three Lord Generals of Parliament’s army during the Civil Wars – Essex, Fairfax and Cromwell – looking at why they were appointed, how politics limited their authority, what impact they had on the political scene and how wider events impacted on them. An interesting approach to these three men’s careers, although it does assume that you are familiar with the events of the civil wars and of the outline of their careers(Read Full Review)
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2 May 2021

The British Navy in the Caribbean, John D. Grainger. Looks at the long British naval involvement in the Caribbean, starting with the Elizabethan raids that came before the first official involvement and moving on to the long but often inconsistent official presence in those waters, and the closely related British colonial presence in the area. A useful guide to the British involvement, covering many unfamiliar periods as well as the better known exploits of Drake and Nelson (Read Full Review)
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Elizabeth’s Sea Dogs and their War Against Spain, Brian Best. An interesting look at the semi-official naval forces used by Elizabethan England to try and make up for the lack of a proper Royal Navy in the long un-declared war against Spain and their role in the campaign against the Spanish Armada. Covers the famous figures such as Drake or Hawkins, but also their less well known contemporaries, many of whom come across as eccentric at best! (Read Full Review)
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The Macedonian Phalanx, Richard Taylor. A detailed look at the Macedonian phalanx, looking at how it developed, how it was equipped, how it was used in battle and its strengths and weaknesses. Based on a detailed anaylsis of the available sources, with a great deal of effort taken to make sure that evidence for the hoplite isn’t used for the Macedonians. Often disagrees with the standard view of the phalanx, but always backs up those arguments with excellent sources.(Read Full Review)
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25 April 2021

Dambuster-in-Chief – The Life of Air Chief Marshal Sir Ralph Cochrane, Richard Mead. A fascinating biography of an officer best know as the commander of 5 Group in Bomber Command for much of the Second World War, turning it into a semi-independent force, as well as helping with the formation of 617 Squadron. Demonstrates how he earned his reputation as one of the most original thinkers in the higher ranks of the wartime RAF, in the process turning 5 Group into a devastating precision weapon. (Read Full Review)
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The Territorial Air Force – the RAF’s Voluntary Squadrons 1926-1957, Dr Louise Wilkinson. A detailed analysis of the RAF’s three different attempts to provide a volunteer reserve in the interwar period – the Auxiliary Air Force, the Special Reserve and the RAFVR, the first two formed as an experiment to see which method worked best and the third in the immediate pre-war period after it became clear that the AAF. Quite specalised, but the author’s research is impressive and they argue their case well(Read Full Review)
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Touring the Sedan Campaign, Maarten Otte. Focuses on the Sedan campaign, but also includes two chapters on how the French got into the mess that led them to that disaster, as well as the march to Sedan and the battle itself, turning it into a useful history of the first part of the Franco-Prussian War, combined with a good guide to the campaign and battle areas, built around two car tours and three walking tours. (Read Full Review)
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11 April 2021

Storm-333 KGB and Spetsnaz seize Kabul, Soviet-Afghan War 1979, Mark Galeotti. Looks at one of the most successful elements of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the successful attack on Hafizullah Amin’s palace outside Kabul, which saw the Afghan leader captured and killed by a force that included Soviet troops that were part of his own garrison. An interesting account of a skilfully conducted operation that only cost nine Soviet lives, although one that didn’t live up to its long term expectations(Read Full Review)
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Armies of Ancient Italy 753-218 BC, Gabriele Esposito. An impressive array of full colour, full page pictures showing enactors with reconstructed ancient Italian arms and armour, supported by a text split between a fairly uncritical narrative of Roman military history that rather skips over the general doubts about the accuracy of later Roman accounts of the early period, and a series of chapters looking at the individual peoples of ancient Italy and how they fought (Read Full Review)
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Battle Tactics of the American Revolution, Robbie MacNiven. An impressive look at the tactics used by the four major combatants in North American – the British, American Patriots, Germans and French – covering their regular forces and the various militias, with sections on infantry, cavalry and artillery. Covers both the theoretical organisation of these units, and how they actually performed in combat(Read Full Review)
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4 April 2021

Lepanto 1571- The Madonna’s Victory, Nic Fields. Takes an unusual but effective approach to the battle, starting with eleven chapters looking at some of the participants, before moving on to look at the ships, guns and soldiers and sailors, and only finally examining the battle itself, which was a famous victory with surprisingly limited results. An excellent book on a battle fought in a rather unfamiliar style, combining oar powered galleys with gunpowder weapons including bow mounted cannons and handguns. (Read Full Review)
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SAS Combat Vehicles 1942-91, Gavin Mortimer. Focuses as much one the uses made of the vehicles as the vehicles themselves, although does have plenty of details on the Willys Jeep and the other vehicles used by the SAS. A good way to approach the missions of the SAS, which were so often dependent on their vehicles for success. Also good that it covers more than just the familiar actions in North Africa, but follows the SAS to Italy, France and into Germany, as well as into the post-war Land Rover period. (Read Full Review)
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The Galatians – Celtic Invaders of Greece and Asia Minor, John D. Grainger. A detailed history of the Galatians, tracing their development from Balkan raiders to part of the Hellenistic state system, and on to their relationship with the expanding power of Rome. Does an excellent job of looking at events from the Galatian perspective, rather than as they were seen by their Greek enemies, so we see them evolve from a raiding force into a more or less regular part of the Hellenistic state system, before eventually succumbing to the power of Rome. (Read Full Review)
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28 March 2021

The Bayonet, Bill Harriman. Looks at the long history of the bayonet, from its emergence as a novel weapon that helped revolutionised warfare in the seventeenth century by eliminating the need for pikes, through its time as one of the queens of the battlefield, before its downfall in the face of increasing firepower on the late 19th century battlefield. Good both on the physical development of the bayonet, and its use and influence on the battlefield (Read Full Review)
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Napoleon’s Women Camp Followers, Terry Crowdy. A look at those women who were officially present with the French armies during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, focusing largely on the laundresses and the vivandiere or sutlers, who provided any supplies that weren’t part of the official ration. Based on a mix of official regulations, soldier’s memoirs and contemporary art works, this book paints an interesting picture of this key non-military element of the French army(Read Full Review)
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The Army of Ptolemaic Egypt 323-204 BC – An Institutional and Operational History, Paul Johstono. Looks at the organisation and performance of the army of the first four Ptolemies, members of the longest lived of the successor kingdoms founded after the death of Alexander the Great. Takes advantage of the impressive array of surviving documents (mainly papyri) to study the structure of the army in great detail and then compare those results to what we know about the army’s performance, and what ancient historians reported about the army(Read Full Review)
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21 March 2021

The M4 Carbine, Chris McNab. A look at a weapon originally designed for rear echelon troops and other secondary uses but that has become one of the standard issue weapons in the US Army. Looks at its controversial early years and the prolonged series of improvements that turned it into a gun that is reliable, accurate and highly regarded by most who use it. (Read Full Review)
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The Junks and Sampans of the Yangtze, G.R.G. Worcester. A truly compelling book looking at far more than it’s title might suggest – as well as detailed examinations of the many different types of junks and sampans found on the Yangtze, we also get an enthralling account of life on that river as it was until fairly recently, written by a British member of the Chinese Maritime Customs Service, who was given eight years to research his topic! Has a timeless feel, despite being researched during a time of near constant civil war, followed by Japanese invasion, with the author spending time in a Japanese prison camp, and having to leave China after the Communist takeover. This is one of those books that I’m sad to have finished!(Read Full Review)
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Animals in the Second World War, Neil R. Storey. Looks at the full range of animal involvement in the war, from the practical use of horses, mules and dogs to the dreadful impact on domestic pets of the outbreak of war. Horse and mules, dogs and pigeons each get their own chapter, reflecting their wide-spread use, while other animals are covered topic by topic. Fairly short, but with lots of interesting material (Read Full Review)
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14 March 2021

Ia Drang 1965 – the Struggle for Vietnam’s Pleiku Province, J.P. Harris & J. Kenneth Eward. Looks at a campaign that included two of the most famous small battles of the Vietnam War, at I Drang, looking at the original Vietnamese plan, the American response and the many flaws with that response that led to the famous battles. Benefits greatly from using sources from both sides, so we know what the Vietnamese were attempting to achieve as well as the Americans. Also acknowledges the many flaws with the US plan, which saw a small force dropped into the middle of an enemy held area, and then split in two! (Read Full Review)
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Bayonet to Barrage – Weaponry on the Victorian Battlefield, Stephen Manning. Looks at the dramatic changes in weaponry during Queen Victoria’s reign, which saw the main infantry weapon go from smoothbore muzzle loading musket to the bolt-action magazine loaded Lee-Metfords and the introduction of the machine gun and the artillery barrage transformed the battlefield. Focuses on the way increases in accuracy, range and speed of firing gave the British an ever increasing advantage against most of their opponents, at least until they came up against the equally well equipped Boers(Read Full Review)
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Hitler’s Attack U-Boats – The Kriegsmarine’s WWII Submarine Strike Force, Jak P. Mallmann Showell. Focuses on a physical description of the three main U-boat models in German service during the Second World War, the Type II, Type VII and Type IX. Includes good sections on their development, but the main strength are the three chapters on the external features, internal features and crew positions on these boats, which include many details I hadn’t seen elsewhere, and which give a fascinating picture of life in these cramped and dangerous weapons(Read Full Review)
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7 March 2021

The History of the panzerjager Volume 2, Thomas Anderson. Looks at the weapons used by Germany’s anti-tank forces in 1942-45, the period that saw the introduction of ever-more powerful weapons, starting with the 7.5cm PaK 40 of 1942 and building up to anti-tank versions of the 88mm Flak gun. Also looks at the increasingly complex array of self propelled guns produced by the Germans. All supported by extensive use of after action reports, which give a fascinating insight into how effective the German troops thought their weapons were, and what improvements they wanted(Read Full Review)
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Ypres 1914: Messines, Nigel Cave and Jack Sheldon. Looks at the fighting around Messines during the First Battle of Ypres, where the Germans were able to capture the ridge itself but were unable to break through the British lines or capture Ypres itself. Covers the early cavalry actions fought before the line began to stabilize as well as the more famous battles around Messines Ridge at the end of October, when a thin line of exhausted troops from the BEF managed to slow down and then stop a German attack. Supported by a series of guided tours to the battlefield area, each with its own map and comments on the area (Read Full Review)
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Religion and Classical Warfare – The Roman Republic, ed. Matthew Dillon & Christopher Matthew. Looks at the role of religion in warfare in the Roman Republic, with a general focus on the more stable period of the middle Republic, where the patterns of religious life are at least partly documented. Paints an interesting picture of the role of religious ritual in the annual pattern of military activity in the Republic, as well as looking at some of the more unusual aspects of Roman religion including the rare examples of human sacrifice, the idea that gods could be persuaded to abandon their home city and ‘move’ to Rome, and the religious role of the Eagles(Read Full Review)
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28 February 2021

The Reckoning – the Defeat of Army Group South 1944, Prit Buttar. A compelling account of the series of Soviet victories that saw them defeat Army Group South, complete the liberation of the Ukraine and force Romania and Bulgaria out of the Axis, a series of battles in which the Red Army demonstrated an ever increasing level of skill and willingness to learn from its experiences, while the Germans increasingly ran out of options. The detailed analysis of these battles demonstrates that the improvement in Soviet fighting skill played as big a part in their victories as their material superiority, while the Germans found that even their Panzer divisions could no longer achieve any significant breakthroughs (Read Full Review)
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Malplaquet 1709, Marlborough’s Bloodiest Battle, Simon MacDowall. A good account of Marlborough’s most costly victory of the War of the Spanish Succession, a genuine example of a Pyrrhic victory, won at such cost that it helped turned British opinion against the war, and that was of more benefit to the defeated side than to the victors. Good material on the campaign that led to the battle, the unusual battlefield, and the brutal and costly battle itself.(Read Full Review)
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German Troops in the American Revolution (1) Hessen-Cassel, Donald M. Londahl-Smidt. Looks at the Hessian units that served in North America, where they seem to have performed well despite being most famous for suffering an embarrassing defeat at Trenton in 1776. Starts with a brief explanation of how Hessian troops came to be in British service, details of the divisions that served and a look at their major actions, before moving onto a detailed look at the uniform colours of the individual regiments. (Read Full Review)
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21 February 2021

The Kaiser’s U-Boat Assault on America – Germany’s Great War Gamble in the First World War, Hans Joachim Koerver. Looks at the reasons why the German Navy’s High Command was so determined to be given permission to conduct unrestricted submarine warfare rather than obey the existing cruiser rules, going as far as disobeying direct orders from the Kaiser and distorting the evidence that cruiser rules actually worked perfectly well. A fascinating history of the First Battle of the Atlantic, painting a very different picture of the story and placing the blame for the failure of the U-boat campaign firmly on the shoulders of the German admirals who had campaigned against the cruiser rules and refused to operate in the western approaches unless they got their own way(Read Full Review)
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Panzer IV, Thomas Anderson. An interesting approach to the Panzer IV, focusing more on its tactical performance, using after-action reports to give some idea of what the German tank forces thought of it and the improvements they requested, and then looking at what changes were made and why. Almost entirely based on wartime documents, with plenty of German after-action reports and development notes to help explain the story of the most numerous German tank of the Second World War (Read Full Review)
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British Light Infantry in the American Revolution, Robbie Macniven. Looks at the most flexible infantry in the British Army of the period, a force capable of scavenging, skirmishing, fighting in the line and raiding, and a sign that the British Army of the period was more flexible than is often imagined. Looks at the British use of light infantry before the War of Independence, how they were trained and equipped, and how they were actually used during the war, (Read Full Review)
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14 February 2021

Vietnam War Booby Traps, Gordon L. Rottman. Looks at the impressively wide range of booby traps used by both sides during the Vietnam War, although with a focus on their use by the North Vietnamese and VC, where they helped compensate for their general inferiority in direct confrontations. Also looks at where the booby traps were located, demonstrating that their use was always carefully thought through, and they weren’t scattered around the jungle. Written by a Vietnam veteran and historian, which gives it a level of authenticity that you rarely find(Read Full Review)
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Athenian Hoplite vs Spartan Hoplite, Peloponnesian War 431-404 BC, Murray Dahm. Looks at three clashes that involved Spartan and Athenian hoplites during the Great Peloponnesian War, including an unusual battle on an island at Sphacteria, a surprise attack by a daring Spartan commander at Amphipolis and a standard hoplite battle at Mantinea, three of the relatively few direct clashes between Spartan and Athenian land forces. Good accounts of these three battles, combined with a clear understanding of the failings on both sides. (Read Full Review)
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Stalingrad 1942-43 (1) The German Advance to the Volga, Robert Forczyk. Looks at the dramatic 1942 campaign that saw the Germans advance to Stalingrad and into the Caucasus, apparently putting them in a position to win two major victories after inflicted yet more heavy losses on the Soviets. A useful book that focuses entirely on this part of the campaign, rather than seeing it as the prelude to the more famous battle of Stalingrad (Read Full Review)
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7 February 2021

War in Greek Mythology, Paul Chrystal. Focuses on the many Greek myths devoted to warfare, from the epic clashes that saw Zeus establish himself as the chief of the gods, through divine role in the semi-mythical human comflicts and on to the satirical ‘war between the mice and the frong’. Acknowledges the complexity of the topic, and the many different versions of most Greek myths, as well as the differing attitudes of the ancient Greeks to their myths(Read Full Review)
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Rome City in Terror: The Nazi Occupation 1943-44, Victor Failmezger. A compelling look at the nine months that saw Rome occupied by the Germans and treated as a hostile city, complete with its own Gestapo network, assault on the Jewish community and the familiar Nazi atrocities. Also looks at the increasingly impressive partisan movement within the city, and the escape lines that helped support large numbers of POWs, as well as the Allied spy networks that flourished in the city. Perhaps a little short on the life of normal Romans, but otherwise a compelling look into life inside the occupied city, and one of those books that really takes you into its world (Read Full Review)
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The Balkans 1940-41 (1) – Mussolini’s Fatal Blunder in the Greco-Italian War, Pier Paolo Battistelli. Looks at the disastrous Italian invasion of Greece in 1940, which ended with the Italian attack firmly repulsed and the Greeks advancing into Albania, where they became the first power to liberate a city occupied by an Axis power, then repelled another Italian offensive early in 1941. Looks at the background to the campaign, the poor state of the Italian army (and in particular its officer corps), the inept Italian plan and the impressive Greek response. A useful account of a key campaign that is over brushed over as a prelude to the German invasion of Greece. (Read Full Review)
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31 January 2021

Pershing’s Lieutenants – American Military Leadership in World War War, ed. David T. Zabecki and Douglas V. Mastriano. A series of twenty two short biographies of the men who served under General Pershing in the AEF of 1917-18, focusing largely on their performance during the First World War and their impact on the inter-war and Second World War army where relevant (and not already very well known). (Read Full Review)
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Roman Heavy Cavalry (2) AD 500-1450, Andrey Negin and Raffaele D’Amato. Provides a useful overview of the most important element of the Byzantine armies for almost 1,000 years, their famous heavy cavalry. Looks at the organisation, terminology, armour, weaponry and horses of the heavy cavalry and how it changed over the course of that long history, as well as the changing uses of the cavalry. Lavishly illustrated, this is reminder of just how splendid even late Byzantine cavalry must have looked (Read Full Review)
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James of St George and the Castles of the Welsh Wars, Malcolm Hislop. An architectural history of the Edwardian castles of North Wales, including both Royal and noble castles, looking at their overall designs as well as the smaller details that help identify the connections between them and other castles of the period, and helping to prove the idea that Master James of St. George actually played a significant role in their design, as well as in their construction (Read Full Review)
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24 January 2021

The Numidians 300 BC-AD 300, William Horsted. A useful look at the Numidian troops who fought for and against the Romans, focusing on the famous cavalry and the later light infantry, but also examining the evidence for at least a small force of more heavily armed elite cavalry, perhaps associated with the kings of Numidia. Benefits from an excellent knowledge of the artistic and archaeological evidence, which makes up for the very limited literary evidence (Read Full Review)
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Bosworth 1485, The Downfall of Richard III, Christopher Gravett. An excellent account of the battle of Bosworth, fully taking into account recent archaeology which has moved the site of the battle and produced the body of Richard III! The result is a convincing account of the battle that combines the sometimes contradictory evidence from the written sources with the impressive array of finds from the battlefield to produce a coherent account of the battle (Read Full Review)
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The Art & Making of Fantasy Miniatures, Jamie Kendall. Overall an interesting eye candy book easy on the eye but with very little discussion , information or insight in this fascinating subject, visually impressive, the artwork is very nice and the photos of figures in over 230 pages are a treat to the eyes. Some of the background text is interesting on the history of the companies covered is fascinating on what inspired figure ranges or how they evolved, but with limited text, and not all of the games covered are still going early in 2021 (Read Full Review)
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17 January 2021

Britannia AD 43 – The Claudian Invasion, Nic Fields. A study of the first year of Claudius’s invasion of Roman Britain, a year that saw the Romans win two known battles, at the Medway and the Thames, the Emperor arrive in person to justify his Triumph, and the Romans establish a province in the south-east of the island. This isn’t the best documented of campaigns, but we do get a good discussion of where the Romans might have landed, their route after the landing, and the two battles, as well as a useful description of the opposing forces(Read Full Review)
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Dunkirk and the Little Ships, Philip Weir. A good account of the evacuations of 1940, starting with an account of the campaign in the west which led to them, followed by an examination of the evacuation itself. This is followed by a look at the ships that actually carried it out, from the destroyers that carried the most men to the famous small ships that have since captured the imagination. Followed by a look at the other evacuations of 1940, and the efforts to commemorate them all. (Read Full Review)
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US Soldier versus British Soldier – War of 1812, Gregg Adams. A look at three battles on the Canadian front of the war of 1812, showing how the US infantry learnt from its defeats in the first two years of the war to become an effective fighting force, more than capable of hold its own against the small British army in Canada, although not capable of actually conquering Canada (Read Full Review)
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10 January 2021

The German Soldier’s Pocket Manual, 1914-1918, ed . Stephen Bull. An interesting selection of documents relating to German infantry tactics during the First World War, including an early instruction manual on trench warfare from 1915, one Allied report on German tactics in 1918, instructions for using individual weapons, and the increasingly sophisticated instructions for the infantry attack that were being produced well before the generally accepted emergence of storm trooper tactics. Presents a useful cross section of the many similar documents produced by the Germans, and which demonstrate their constant determination to learn from the fighting (Read Full Review)
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Septimus Severus and the Roman Army, Michael Sage. A good biography of the first Roman Empire to emerge from the Empire’s African provinces, and found of a dynasty that provided a last period of stability between the death of Marcus Aurelius and the outbreak of the third century crisis. Covers the background to Roman Africa, his early career, his rise to power and the civil wars that secured his reign, his own wars, and the controversial reigns of his sons.(Read Full Review)
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Armies of Ancient Greece – c.500-338 BC – History, Organization & Equipment, Gabriele Esposito. A decent military history of classical Greece from the emergence of the Hoplite to the rise of Macedon, along with three chapters looking at the rise of the Hoplite, the actual armies and their equipment, all supported by a vast number of colour pictures of re-enctors in authentic Greek military equipment. Covers a wider period than is often the case, including earlier wars than in many similar books. (Read Full Review)
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