Military History Encyclopedia on the Web

2018 onwards - 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

16 September 2018

Conquerors of the Roman Empire: The Goths, Simon Macdowall. Looks at the long period of interaction between the various Gothic tribes and the Roman Empire, as well as the post-Roman history of the two main Gothic kingdoms in Italy and Spain. Produces a more complex picture than the normal image of the Goths as simply rampaging destroyers of the Empire, showing that Rome and the Goths were allies almost as often as enemies, and looking at the brief attempt to produce a combined Roman and Gothic society in Italy (Read Full Review)
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Panzer I & II Blueprint for Blitzkrieg 1933-1941, Robert Jackson . A well illustrated history of the Panzer I and Panzer II, the most numerous German tanks of the early Blitzkrieg victories, and still present in very large numbers at the start of Operation Barbarossa, by which time they were utterly outclassed. Covers their development, technical specifications, variants and modified vehicles using the same chassis and their combat record, all supported by a good selection of photographs and plans (Read Full Review)
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Napoleon and the Archduke Charles - A History of the Franco-Austrian Campaign in the valley of the Danube 1809, F. Loraine Petre. Covers Napoleon’s final victorious campaign, the hard fought victory over Austria that also saw him suffer his first significant battlefield defeat at Aspern-Essling, as well as the eventual victory at Wagram. Traces the failures and successes of both senior commanders, and the early signs of a reduction in the quality of the French army. A good account despite being over a century old(Read Full Review)
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9 September 2018

M50 Ontos and M56 Scorpion 1956-70 - US Tank Destroyers of the Vietnam War, Kenneth W. Estes. Looks at two very light tank destroyers developed for the Cold War but that never saw action against enemy army, but instead saw limited use as infantry support weapons during the Vietnam War. Both were seen as expendable weapons, combining heavy firepower with a light and easy to produce vehicle, but neither was produced in very large numbers, both were made obsolete by anti-tank missiles (Read Full Review)
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German Military Vehicles of World War II, Jean-Denis G.G. Lepage. Main focus is on soft skinned, unarmed vehicles - trucks, cars, bikes etc, but also covers half tracks and armoured cars. For me the soft skinned section is a useful reference, if a bit dry, while the half track and armoured car section is more interesting, covering some of the more famous combat vehicles of the Second World War as well as their less successful contemporaries (Read Full Review)
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Professor Porsche’s Wars, Karl Ludvigsen. A study of the military aspects of Fredinand Porsche’s career, spanning a wide range of activities from First World War artillery tractors to the vast Maus tank, and including his most successful military design, the Beetle based Kubelwagen. A well balanced account of a long and active career that actually produced a surprisingly small number of militarily significant products.(Read Full Review)
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2 September 2018

Sparta - Rise of a Warrior Nation, Philip Matyszak. An interesting fast paced history of Sparta, starting with the earliest inhabitants of the site that became Sparta, tracing the rise of the city and the evolution of its unusual institutions, and up to the high point of Sparta’s status, the battle of Plataea, the final defeat of the most dangerous of the Persian invasions of Greece, focusing on the earlier period. (Read Full Review)
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The Battle of Glendale - The Day the South Nearly Won the Civil War, Jim Stempel. Looks at one of the more obscure of the Seven Day’s Battles, the least organised stage of the Union retreat and the best chance the Confederates had to inflict a heavy defeat on McClellan’s retreating forces, left without an overall commander while attempting to retreat south to a secure base, giving Lee a chance to attack from the west and potentially cut the Union line into two parts (Read Full Review)
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Fighter Aircraft Since 1945, Frank Schwede. This book falls into something of a gap between the two main types of aircraft books - detailed examinations of individual types and encyclopaedic books covering as many types as possible. Instead the author has chosen to provide medium sized articles covering a smaller selection of the most important types. Organised by area, then manufacturer and finally by date, but without losing the overall picture of fighter development (Read Full Review)
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26 August 2018

Madness in Mogadishu, Michael Whetstone. The story of one of the infantry commanders involved in the ‘Black Hawk Down’ incident in Mogadishu, taking part in the rescue mission. Whetstone tells a fascinating story, and gives us an insight into a successful infantry unit, looking at the training, attitude and skills required to overcome heavy odds to achieve their objectives and escape with light losses.(Read Full Review)
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The Battle of Monroe's Crossroads and the Civil War's Final Campaign, Eric Wittenberg. A study of the final major cavalry battle of the American Civil War, a Confederate surprise attack that achieved initial success before the Union forces rallied and regained control of the battlefield. Looks at the two forces involved, the battle itself and its impact on the remaining few weeks of the Civil War. The author is perhaps a little over-impressed with the initial Confederate success, but other than that this is a well balanced account of a relatively obscure but interesting late Civil War battle (Read Full Review)
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Emperor Alexander Severus - Rome’s Age of Insurrection, AD 222-236, John S. McHugh. A biography of the last Severan emperor (admittedly one with a very limited link to the founder of the dynasty), looking at the turbulent life and times of the last emperor before the start of the Third Century Crisis. An interesting look at how an Emperor from a dynasty of political outsiders managed to survive for a surprisingly long time, despite coming to the throne as a child (Read Full Review)
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19 August 2018

Decisive Victory - the Battle of the Sambre, 4 November 1918, Derek Clayton. Looks at the BEF’s last major battle of the First World War, in which the Germans were forced out of their last prepared defensive line in a single day, marking the start of the final collapse of German resistance and the start of the rush to the Armistice. Aims to look at the level of skill displayed by the BEF towards the end of the victorious 100 Days campaign, tracing the balance between skill, experience and exhaustion(Read Full Review)
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Gaius Marius - The Rise and Fall of Rome’s Saviour, Marc Hyden. Looks at the career of one of the key figures in the fall of the Roman Republic, a general whose victories saved the Republic from foreign invasion, but whose ambition helped trigger the series of civil wars that saw its eventual collapse into chaos that only ended with the victory of Augustus and the foundation of the Empire. A good biography of an important historical figure, aimed at the general reader rather than the specialist in Roman history (Read Full Review)
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Aircraft of the Luftwaffe 1935-1945, Jean-Denis G.G. Lepage. Combines a good background history of the Luftwaffe with a comprehensive examination of its aircraft, from the biplanes of the mid 1930s to the main wartime aircraft and on to the seemingly unending range of experimental designs that wasted so much effort towards the end of the war. A useful general guide that provides an impressively wide range of information on almost every element of the Luftwaffe (Read Full Review)
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12 August 2018

Medieval Warfare Vol VI, Issue 1: Reign of the Leper King - The Kingdom of JeruslemMedieval Warfare Vol VI, Issue 1: Reign of the Leper King - The Kingdom of Jeruslem . Focuses on the later years of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, and in particular the reign of Baldwin IV, the Leper King, a short-lived but fairly effective king who managed to hold off the rising power of Saladin. Also looks at Odin's reputation as a warrior, the military career of St. Francis of Assisi, the Grand Chevauchee of 1355 and the purpose built war wagons of the Hussites [see more]
Medieval Warfare Vol VI, Issue 3: Legacy of Ancient Rome - The Byzantine-Sassanid WarsMedieval Warfare Vol VI, Issue 3: Legacy of Ancient Rome - The Byzantine-Sassanid Wars . Focuses on the later wars between Byzantium and her eastern neighbours, the Sassanids, a series of conflicts that left both powers exhausted and unable to resist the Arab conquests. Covers the main course of the final war, the armour of the Sassanids, Byzantine commanders, the motives of the defeated Sassanid emperor and the final events of the war. Also looks at Japanese and English longbows, the Livonian crusades and the battle of Loch Lochy. [see more]
Medieval Warfare Vol VI, Issue 6: The Masses are Rising – The German Peasant's RevoltMedieval Warfare Vol VI, Issue 6: The Masses are Rising – The German Peasant's Revolt . Focuses on the German Peasant's Revolt, one of the more famous of the surprisingly rare large scale peasant's revolts, and no more successful than any of the others, despite coming at a time of religious turmoil and affecting large parts of the German speaking world.  Looks at why the revolt started, who took part in it and why it failed. Also looks at the soldier in 16th century art, the Norman royal forests and the military flail. [see more]

5 August 2018

Formidable - A True Story of disaster and courage, Steve R. Dunn. Looks at the full story behind the loss of HMS Formidable, a British battleship sunk by a U-boat on 1 January 1915 while under the overall command of an Admiral who at that point didn’t accept that the submarine posed a threat to his fleet. Sections on why she was lost and who was to blame are balanced by detailed examinations of the fate of her crew, the dependents of those lost with her and the public reaction to her lose to produce a useful account of this naval disaster(Read Full Review)
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Hold at All Costs! The Epic Battle of Delville Wood 1916, Ian Uys. A very detailed look at the battle of Delville Wood, one of the most intense parts of the battle of the Somme, and an important battle for the South Africans, who held the wood against determined German counter attacks for the first few days of the battle. Does a good job of covering the battle from both sides, using detailed German sources to demonstrate that both sides suffered heavy losses during the fighting (Read Full Review)
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F-15C Eagle vs MiG-23/25 Iraq 1991, Douglas C. Dildy & Tom Cooper. Looks at the war in which the west realised that it’s best fighter aircraft outclassed their feared Soviet opponents, despite the limitations of the weapons it was armed with. Studies the background to the war, the development of the aircraft and their weapons, the way they were controlled, and the results of the limited number of clashes between the F-15s and the two Soviet types(Read Full Review)
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29 July 2018

Bomber Offensive, Sir Arthur Harris. The autobiography of Bomber Harris, giving his view of the strategic bombing campaign in its immediate aftermath. Invaluable for the insights it provides into Harris’s approach to the war, what he was trying to achieve and the problems he faced. Harris perhaps overstates his case, not entirely surprisingly given how soon after the end of the war this book was written (Read Full Review)
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Bac Si: A Green Beret Medic's War in Vietnam, Jerry Krizan and Robert Dumont. An unusual perspective on the Vietnam War, written by a Special Forces Medic serving at Loc Ninh, one of the more active Green Beret bases during his year in the country. As well as fighting alongside a Vietnamese Army force, he also had more contact with the locals that you find in many of these accounts. Nicely organised, largely by topics, the result is a valuable memoir looking at a less familiar part of the war (Read Full Review)
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The 1916 Battle of the Somme Reconsidered, Peter Liddle. A modified version of a 1992 original that attempted to produce a new perspective of the battle of the Somme, seeing it as an essential step towards the eventual Allied victory, both for the damage it did to the German army and the improvements it forced on the British, as well as looking at the contemporary views of the soldiers involved in the fighting, suggesting that the average soldier wasn’t the disillusioned figure painted by the war poets or of the post-war period(Read Full Review)
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22 July 2018

The Social History of English Seamen 1650-1815, ed. Cheryl A. Fury. A selection of articles looking at the live of British sailors during the period that saw the Royal Navy evolve into the foremost naval power in the world, after overcoming the trauma of the Civil Wars. A mix of general and very specific articles, the choice of an earlier than normal start date means that this covers some unfamiliar topics, and unfamiliar twists on familiar topics (Read Full Review)
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I, Horatio, Donald A. Tortorice. A novelised biography of Nelson, written from his point of view, and largely in the style of the period. Suffers from some historical errors, including minor matters of titles, and one major error about the status of Nelson’s ship at the battle of Cape St. Vincent, but the result is still a readable and fairly convincing life of Nelson, from an unusual point of view(Read Full Review)
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The Paper Caper, Tim Topps. A fun and generally light hearted spy caper, based in the immediate post-war period, at the start of the Cold War. After arriving at a large military depot in the Midlands, our hero is soon involved in an attempt to track down a Soviet sleeper agent, while at the same time running the base newspaper and getting involved in romances. An entertaining read, presumably rather loosely based on the author’s own experiences to give the convincing feel for the period(Read Full Review)
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15 July 2018

A Soldier for Napoleon - The Campaigns of Lieutenant Franz Joseph Hausmann, 7th Bavarian Infantry, ed John H. Gill. A look at the Bavarian Army’s role in the Napoleonic Wars, built around the war diaries and surviving letters of Franz Joseph Hausmann, a junior officer who served on many of Napoleon’s greatest campaigns, then on the opposite side during the invasion of France of 1814. Most valuable for the collection of letters from the Russian campaign of 1812, covering the activities of one of the flank armies that attempted to protect the Grande Armée as it advanced to Moscow and back(Read Full Review)
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Patricians and Emperors - the Last Rulers of the Western Roman Empire, Ian Hughes. Looks at the final decades of the Western Roman Empire, focusing on the series of short-lived Emperors, some of whom came tantalisingly close to winning significant victories, while others were shadowy non-entities who came and went without having any visible impact. Takes an interesting approach, organising the period by the Emperors and not by the series of military commanders who normally dominate the period, and as a result giving us a rather different view of the final years of the Empire in the west (Read Full Review)
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War Birds - The Diary of a Great War Pilot, Elliot White Springs. The compelling diaries of an American volunteer serving with the RFC and RAF during the First World War, covering his time in training, which became increasingly light-hearted (and drunken) and his six month long combat career during 1918. Provides a fascinating study of the way in which combat stress could affect someone, as well as the contrast between the fairly safe life on the airfield and the dangers in the air (Read Full Review)
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24 June 2018

The Typhoon Truce, 1970, Robert F. Curtis. Looks at the experiences of a Chinook helicopter unit during a rare example of a humanitarian truce during the Vietnam War, three days in which the unit focuses on rescuing Vietnamese villages cut off by floods caused by a massive typhoon. The events of the rescue mission are interesting, but the book is most valuable for its insights into the every day life of a transport unit operating over the war zone, but based in relative safety (Read Full Review)
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Lucullus – The Life and Campaigns of a Roman Conqueror, Lee Fratantuono. Looks at the public career of Lucius Lucullus, one of the less familiar Roman military and political figures in the dying days of the Roman Republic, a generally successful general who was unable to end the wars he had almost won, and who was overshadowed by his patron Sulla and his rival and replacement Pompey. Aimed at the general reader, so provides a concise narrative of the life of this important figure (Read Full Review)
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Kings and Kingship in the Hellenistic World 350-30 BC, John D Grainger. Looks at the nature of kingship in the years between Alexander the Great and the Roman conquest of the Hellenistic world, a period in which a surprising number of dynasties established themselves, and in some cases even flourished for centuries before disappearing. Organised thematically, so we see how the various dynasties differed, and more often how much they had in common. Also helps to explain how some of these apparently unstable dynasties managed to survive for so long (Read Full Review)
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Constantius II - Usurpers, Eunuchs and the Antichrist, Peter Crawford. Looks at the reign of one of the sons of Constantine the Great, and a rather controversial Roman emperor, despite being the victor in repeated civil wars and successfully defending the borders of the Empire against increasingly powerful opponents. Paints a picture of a more than capable ruler, let down by his poor choice of courtiers and possibly by a paranoid nature and a tendency to undermine his own subordinate rulers (Read Full Review)
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Hitler's Arctic War - The German Campaigns in Norway, Finland and the USSR 1940-1945, Chris Mann and Christer Jörgensen. Covers the fighting in Norway and Finland and the far north of the Soviet Union, from the Winter War to the victorious Soviet campaign that forced the Finns to change sides, as well as the battles around the Arctic Convoys, portrayed here as one of the great ‘missed chances’ of the German war effort. An interesting attempt to cover a wide range of topics loosely connected by their geographical location(Read Full Review)
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17 June 2018

Grouchy's Waterloo - The Battles of Ligny and Wavre, Andrew W. Field. Focuses on Marshal Grouchy’s performance during the key days of the Waterloo campaign - his own actions, the behaviour of his senior subordinates, Napoleon’s orders to him, and how they all combined to affect the outcome of the campaign. Covers some of the most controversial moments of the Waterloo campaign and the post-war battle of allocate blame for the French defeat(Read Full Review)
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Gold Run - The Rescue of Norway's Gold Bullion from the Nazis, April 1940, Robert Pearson. Looks at the successful attempt to save the last batch of Norwegian gold still in the country when the Germans invaded, a lengthy journey that saw the gold taken off in British warships from different ports, with some reaching Tromso in the far north of Norway before being evacuated! A tale of dedication to duty in very difficult circumstances (Read Full Review)
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Sea & Air Fighting – Those Who Were There, David Bilton. A series of lively accounts of air and naval exploits, clearly written while they were still fresh in the mind, and before the inter-war cynicism took root. As a result gives us a feel for how these actions must have felt at the time, covering an impressively wide range of topics. Serves as a reminder of the time the First World War was the most recent, most high technology war ever fought, and away from the trenches had more than enough dramatic incidents to fill several books like this (Read Full Review)
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Britain and the Widening War 1915-1916 – From Gallipoli to the Somme, ed. Peter Liddle. Covers a wide range of topics, from wartime to modern records of wartime archaeology, covering a rather wider date range than the title would suggest, and several articles that don’t directly relate to Britain. The result is an interesting selection of articles covering unusual aspects of the war, or unusual views of familiar topics such as Verdun or the Somme(Read Full Review)
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You Can't Get Much Closer Than This, A.Z. Adkins Jr and Andrew Z Adkins, III. The often moving diaries of Captain A. Z. Adkins, an officer in the 317th Infantry Regiment, 80th Division, tracing his experiences as he fought his way from Normandy to the end of the war, serving with a heavy weapons company and then with 81mm mortars. A vivid picture of what it was like to be under fire at the front line, the painful nature of the Allied progress across Europe, and the sudden change as German resistance finally broke in the last days of the war (Read Full Review)
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Seizing the Enigma - The Race to break the German U-Boat Codes, 1939-1943, David Kahn. A fascinating account of the struggle to crack the German Navy’s version of the Enigma, covering the development of the machine, the international efforts to break the code, and the long British efforts to get into the Navy Enigma, including the Navy expeditions to capture key parts of the machine and related documents. Does a good job of explaining this complex story, with the space to go into more detail of the specific naval aspects(Read Full Review)
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27 May 2018

Rommel in his own words, ed. Dr John Pimlott. Starts with his inter-war account of his First World War experiences, then moves on to the Second World War, with some material on the 1940 campaign and the defence of France, but with the largest section covering his famous campaigns in the desert of North Africa. Includes private letters, official reports and published works, giving us a range of Rommel’s public and private views(Read Full Review)
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Spearhead of the Fifth Army - the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment in Italy, from the Winter Line to Anzio, Frank van Lunteren. A very ‘up close’ study of the combat experiences of the 504th PIR, covering the advance to the Winter Line, the fighting at the Barbara and Bernhardt Lines and the regiments’ participation at Anzio. Very good on the day-to-day experiences of the combat troops, perhaps not so good on putting them in the wider context(Read Full Review)
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British Commando 1940-45, Angus Konstam. A overview of the British Commandos, focusing on what made them different to the regular army, the sort of skills they were required to have, the training that made sure they gained them, and the wide range of equipment that they carried into combat. Also includes a good ‘On Campaign’ section that gives an overview of the sort of experiences the Commandos underwent in combat, but focuses mainly on their training and skills(Read Full Review)
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20 May 2018

A Handful of Hard Men: The SAS and the Battle for Rhodesia, Hannes Wessels. Looks at the role of the Rhodesia SAS in the long struggle to maintain white minority rule. A good example of how a military organisation can be almost entirely successful within its own terms, while at the same time losing the war, as large areas of Rhodesia became ‘no go’ zones for the white population. An interesting study of what the Rhodesian SAS did, perhaps less successful on what they hoped to achieve(Read Full Review)
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The Anatomy of Glory - Napoleon and his Guard, Henry Lachouque & Anne S. K. Brown. A splendid study of Napoleon’s Imperial Guard, the most famous part of his military machine, taking us into their daily life as Napoleon’s favoured elite, and following its evolution from a small bodyguard for the Consuls into a massive army within an army, serving as the elite and the reserve of Napoleons army, and playing an increasingly important combat role as the wars turned against Napoleon. Follows the wars from the Guard’s point of view, so we get a fairly uncritical view of Napoleon, reflecting how they saw him.(Read Full Review)
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Fighting the Bombers - The Luftwaffe's Struggle against the Allied Bomber Offensive, ed. David C. Isby. A fascinating look at the Luftwaffe’s fight against the Allied bombers, based around a series of interviews carried out with key figures in the Luftwaffe just after the end of the war. As a result it gives us an idea of what they thought about the battle in its immediate aftermath, and before their stories began to change in the post-war years. A very valuable primary source for anyone interesting in the Second World War bombing campaigns(Read Full Review)
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13 May 2018

Breaking Point of the French Army - The Nivelle Offensive of 1917, David Murphy. Looks at the state of the French army at the start of 1917, the hopes raised by Nivelle when he took command, the failure of his offensive and the crisis of morale caused by that failure. Includes interesting material on how Nivelle and his team were able to ignore the evidence that there were problems with their plan, and on how Petain managed to undo the damage to the French army in remarkably little time (Read Full Review)
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Peter the Great Humbled - The Russo-Ottoman War of 1711, Nicholas Dorrell. Looks at the short and almost disastrous Russian invasion of the Ottoman Empire, which ended with Peter the Great and his army trapped on the Pruth and forced to surrender on Ottoman terms. Covers the various armies involved on both sides, the commanders, the aims of the two main commanders and the course of the short, and for Peter, almost disastrous war. Despite some victories away from the main front, the war could have ended with Peter’s power greatly diminished and he was lucky to be offered rather generous terms(Read Full Review)
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Secret Naval Investigator - the Battle against Hitler's Secret Underwater Weapons, Commander F. Ashe Lincoln QC, RNVR. The autobiography of one of the leading figures in the battle against Germany’s increasingly advanced mines and torpedoes, a key part of the battle of the Atlantic, allowing the British to overcome a series of German ‘secret weapons’ that might otherwise have cut the vital sea lanes to Britain. This comes across as one of the most dangerous research jobs of the Second World War, and many of the author’s colleagues were killed while trying to disarm and dismantle these weapons(Read Full Review)
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6 May 2018

Friends and Enemies: The Natal Campaign in the South African War 1899-1902, Hugh Rethman. Looks at the Boer invasion of Natal, the siege of Ladysmith and the efforts to raise the siege, with an emphasis on the role of troops raised in Natal and on the fate of the civilian population of the area. Perhaps a bit too hostile to the Boers and critical of British officers, but excellent on its core subject - the contribution of the people of Natal to their own defence in the face of hostile invasion (Read Full Review)
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Monte Cassino: A German View, Rudolf Böhmler. Very good on the nitty gritty of the fighting carried out by Bohmler’s paratroops, who were responsible for much of the determined defence of Cassino monastery and town, so we get a good feel for the day-to-day experience of the paratroops. Not so strong on the overall picture or the political background, which is sometimes dominated by a desire to rehabilitate the reputation of the German army in a Cold War context(Read Full Review)
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Anders Lassen VC, MC of the SAS, Mike Langley. A biography of one of the most remarkable men to serve with the SAS and SBS during the Second World War, an exiled Dane who went on to win the MC and two bars and the Victoria Cross, looking at his military career and his character, and producing a picture of a more complex than expected man, who inflicted a great deal of damage on the Germans, especially in the Aegean (Read Full Review)
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29 April 2018

English Electric Lightning, Martin Derry and Neil Robinson. Very much aimed at the modeller, with an emphasis on paint schemes and liveries. Does include a useful mark-by-mark and unit-by-unit history of the Lightning, which will be of interest to the general aviation enthusiast, as well as a large selection of colour plans of the aircraft, reviews of the various kits available, and an impressive selection of colour photos of the aircraft, which will be of great value to the modeller (Read Full Review)
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The Third Reich Bravery and Merit Decoration for Eastern Peoples, Rolf Michaelis. A short book that looks at an award originally designed for eastern volunteers not qualified to receive standard German awards, with a brief history of the award (including tracing its development into an award available to German troops serving with Eastern units) and a plates selection that includes pictures of the award, soldiers wearing the reward and the paperwork associated with it (Read Full Review)
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Forgotten Sacrifice - The Arctic Convoys of World War II, Michael G. Walling. A valuable study of the full story of the Arctic Convoys, looking beyond the most famous of the convoy battles to cover the early almost unopposed sailings, the return trips, the clashes between German and Soviet forces along the Arctic coast and the Soviet contribution to the convoys themselves. Includes many harrowing tales of Arctic survival that reminds us of the human cost of these convoys (Read Full Review)
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22 April 2018

Trial by Gas - the British Army at the Second Battle of Ypres, George H. Cassar. Looks at the first use of poisoned gas on the Western Front, and the only major German offensive in the west in 1915, one of the great ‘missed chances’ of the First World War. Very detailed account of the British side of the battle, supported by excellent maps showing the overall progress of the battle. Could do with more on the German point of view, but otherwise excellent(Read Full Review)
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Marine Corps Tank Battles in the Middle East, Oscar E. Gilbert. Covers a range of types of armoured warfare, from the conventional tank battles of the two Gulf Wars to counter insurgency work in Afghanistan. Paints a picture of a flexible, adaptable and competent armoured force that plays a key part in just about every Marine Corps deployment, despite never being at the top of the pile for funding. Also suggests that the tank can be surprising effective in counter-insurgency work, providing a powerful backup to the infantry (Read Full Review)
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Stemming the Tide: Officers and Leadership in the British Expeditionary Force 1914, ed. Spencer Jones. A generally positive study of the senior and middle ranking officers of the BEF, covering the main characters at GHQ, the three corps commanders, a selection of division and brigade commanders and finishing with a more general study of battalion and company commanders. Focuses on their pre-war careers, how their experiences prepared them for the trials of 1914 and how they actually coped (Read Full Review)
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15 April 2018

Wings over Ogaden: The Ethiopian-Somali War 1978-79, Tom Cooper. Covers one of the more obscure battles of the late 20th Century, where even some of the major units commanders are still unknown. This was an unusual conflict, where both combatants changed their allegiance in the Cold War before or during the conflict, but at the start it was a clash between Western and Soviet aircraft and training methods, with the previously Western backed Ethiopians coming out on top on both counts (Read Full Review)
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The Battle of Cuito Cuanavale: Cold War Angolan Finale, 1987-1988, Leopold Scholtz. Looks at the final major clash between the South Africans and their Angolan and Cuban opponents in southern Angola during the long Border War. Largely written from the South African point of view (mainly due to the available sources), but with an attempt to be fair to the Angolans and Cubans. Mainly focuses on the detailed events of the battle, and supported by detailed maps and an impressive collection of photographs (Read Full Review)
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Aisne 1918, David Blanchard. Focuses on the first day of the battle, when a series of weakened British divisions in poor defensive positions were overwhelmed and the Allied line was temporarily broken. Based around a series of regimental histories of the fighting on that first day, followed by a shorter overview of the rest of the battle. Helps explain why the Germans were able to achieve such a dramatic breakthrough on the first day of the battle (Read Full Review)
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8 April 2018

The Battle of Britain, Kate Moore. Differs from most books on the topic by dedicating half of its length to the background to the battle - the nature of the two air forces, the aircraft they used, their organisation at the start of the battle, and the German victories of 1939-40 and the role of air power in them. Then moves on to a good but fairly standard account of the battle, supported by eyewitness accounts and pictures from the Imperial War Museum archives (Read Full Review)
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Green Leader, Ian Pringle. Looks at the destruction of two civilian airliners by ZIPRA and the Rhodesian military reaction, in particular to the first of those attacks. Perhaps overplays the significance of these events in helping Robert Mugabe into power, given that the ZIPRA leader Nkomo still gained 80% of the vote in the heartland of his support, but does provide an interesting narrative of the Rhodesian attacks (Read Full Review)
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Britain Goes to War - How the First World War Began to Reshape the Nation, ed. Peter Liddle. Covers a very wide range of topics, starting with a focus on the early months of the war, moving on to a series of topics that cover the entire period and ending with a look at some of the sources available for the study of the war. Made up of articles produced for a conference at Weetwood Halls, Leeds, so produced by a wide range of experts, thus explaining the wide range of articles and the unusual topics (Read Full Review)
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25 March 2018

RAF and the SOE - Special Duty Operations in Europe During WW2, An Official History. The official history of the RAF’s role in SOE operations, with valuables sections on problems such as navigation, what sort of supply containers to use, how reception committees worked or the dangerous landing operations. Not always terribly readable, due to its origin as an official report, but always valuable, providing a detailed examination of the aerial operations that made almost all of SOE’s operations possible.(Read Full Review)
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Images of War: United States Naval Aviation 1911-2014, Michael Green. Covers the full range of US naval aircraft, from the early biplanes that entered service only five years after the first powered flight to the modern jet aircraft and unmanned drones. Split into four time periods, with each section beginning with a brief introduction to each aircraft type, followed by the photos themselves, each supported by a useful caption. Also includes a short section of colour plates, mainly of more modern aircraft or surviving older types (Read Full Review)
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Enduring Freedom Enduring Voices: US Operations in Afghanistan, Michael G. Walling. Looks at US military operations in Afghanistan between the 2001 and 2013, with very little on events in parts of the country not under US control. Includes a wide range of useful eyewitness accounts from US service personnel, largely untainted by hindsight simply because we don’t actually know the outcome of the war yet (the book even ends a year before the official end of Operation Enduring Freedom)(Read Full Review)
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18 March 2018

The Lions of Carentan: Fallschirmjäger Regiment 6, 1943-1945, Volker Griesser. A unit history that perhaps tells you more about the paratroops saw themselves than the reality of their war, although the eyewitness accounts are often more honest, reflecting the often desperate fighting that saw the unit pushed back from Normandy into the heart of Germany, suffering massive casualties on the way. Covers the German seizure of Rome, D-Day and the fighting in Normandy, the attacks on the land corridor leading to Arnhem and the final defensive battles in Germany (Read Full Review)
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GI Stories 1942-45, Henry-Paul Enjames. Looks at the wartime careers of more than fifty US service personnel fighting in North Africa and Europe, tracing them from their pre-war lives in the US, through training and into combat. Tends to provide more individual details before their units entered active combat, then focus on the unit history until the subject of the chapter was wounded, captured, killed or the fighting ended, when we then get more personal details. Each entry is supported by a wide selection of photos of memorabilia, mainly closely related to the individual (Read Full Review)
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Finnish Soldier vs Soviet Soldier - Winter War 1939-40, David Campbell. Looks at three key battles during the Winter War, comparing the performance of the full range of ground troops on both sides, including armour and artillery. Shows how the Soviet performance slowly improved, just as the Finns were being worn down by the constant fighting, but also how the determined Finnish resistance probably convinced Stalin to abandon his early plans to occupy the entire country, and also how the Soviet debacles in 1939 helped convince the Germans that the Red Army would be an easy opponent to defeat (Read Full Review)
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11 March 2018

The Petersburg Campaign vol II: The Western Front Battles September 1864-April 1865, Bryce A. Suderow and Edwin C. Bearss. Looks at the fighting to the south and west of Petersburg during the long siege of 1864-65, which ended with the Confederates forced to abandon Petersburg and Richmond, the retreat to Appomattox and the final surrender of Lee's army. Starts with a rather dry account of the early battles on this front, which ended in stalemate, before moving on to the key battles of the spring of 1865, which saw the Confederate lines finally broken (Read Full Review)
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Lobositz to Leuthen - Horace St. Paul and the Campaigns of the Austrian Army in the Seven Years War 1756-57, Neil Cogswell. Meant as a series study of the military art, so includes orders of battle, extracts from other author's work, all pulled together in St. Paul's diaries, and describing some of the earliest campaigns of the Seven Years War. A valuabkle source for this period, giving us an educated outsider's view of some of the early battles and sieges of the Seven Years War, seen from a position close to the senior Austrian and Imperial armies (Read Full Review)
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The SADF in the Border War 1966-1989, Leopold Scholtz. Looks at the long war on the Angolan-Namibian border, fought between South Africa and UNITA on one side and the Angolans, Cubans and SWAPO on the other. The author states in the introduction that his work can't be entirely balanced because of the available sources, but still does a good job of producing an unbiased account of the South African performance during the war, looking at their successes and failures on the battlefield, and in the eventual peace negotiations that ended the war (Read Full Review)
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4 March 2018

The Suomi Submachine Gun, Leroy Thompson. Looks at the main Finnish submachine gun during the Winter War and to a lesser extent the Continuation Wars, focusing not just on what made it distinctive technically, but also on how it was used by the Finns to increase the firepower of their hit-and-run raiders, and the wider significance of that combat experience, which turned the SMG from a specialist weapon into a mainstay of the infantry. (Read Full Review)
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Caen Controversy - The Battle for Sword Beach 1944, Andrew Stewart. Looks at the plans for the attack on Sword Beach, the question of if Caen was an Allied target for D-Day, and if so why it wasn't captured on the day. Provides a good account of the beach landings, as well as the wider battle, before looking at the controversy surrounding the failure to take Caen on or close to D-Day, one of Montgomery's stated aims before the invasion (Read Full Review)
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World War II US Army Combat Equipments, Gordon L. Rottman. At first glance this is a rather unpromising topic, but it actually gives you an interesting insight into the daily life of the US soldier of the Second World War, looking at the kit they carried with themselves every day, cooked with and camped in, as well as the various ammo holders and pouches. The result is a surprisingly interesting book (Read Full Review)
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25 February 2018

Hard Fighting - A History of the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry 1900-1946, Jonathan Hunt. Part two of this unit history looks at the Sherwood Rangers' time as a active combat unit, as cavalry in the Boer War and First World War and as an armoured unit during the Second World War. Starts a little dry, but becomes increasingly interesting as it goes on, and especially during the Second World War, where the unit fought at El Alamein, operated DD tanks on D-Day and fought alongside US troops during Operation Market Garden (Read Full Review)
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Generalissimo Stalin: The Myth of Stalin as a Great Military Strategist, Boris Gorbachevsky. Starts as a look at Stalin's role as a military leader and how it was portrayed within the Soviet Union and turns into a wider condemnation of many aspects of the Soviet war effort and post-war attitude to veterans, written by a wartime veteran of the Red Army. More of a passionately argued polemic than a clearly argued history, the author's passion and anger is clear, backed up by his personal experiences of many of the events he was discussing (Read Full Review)
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The Mosin-Nagant Rifle, Bill Harriman. Looks at the main Russian and Soviet rifle of the First and Second World Wars, a robust weapon that first appeared in the 1890s, but went on to serve in gradually improved versions for over half a century. Written by a weapons collector and high quality history, so we get both halves of the story - the history of the weapon and what it was like to actually operate it (Read Full Review)
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18 February 2018

Milvian Bridge AD 312 - Constantine's battle for Empire and Faith, Ross Cowan. Looks at the background to the civil war, the events of the entire campaign and the battle itself, which turns out to be more difficult to understand than one might have expected, with no clear location and different accounts of the course of the battle itself. The author has his own views on the location and course of the battle, and supports it with a good discussion of the sources (Read Full Review)
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Churchill's Greatest Fear: The Battle of the Atlantic 3 September 1939 to 7 May 1945, Richard Doherty. Covers the full length of the battle, bringing in topics that are rarely covered, such as the important of realistic training or the role of operational research in the improvement of Allied countermeasures, helping to prove that most attacks came from within the convoy or that larger convoys were safer. Also good on technological developments on both sides, and the strengths and flaws of the many weapons used during the long battle (Read Full Review)
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Bazooka vs Panzer - Battle of the Bulge 1944, Steven J. Zaloga. Looks at the way in which the bazooka actually worked, its development into a working weapon, and how it was used in combat, with one case study from the Ardennes. Also covers the various German defensive measures often said to have been  introduced in response to the bazooka, but that mainly turn out to have been responses to threats on the Eastern Front, and that often had little impact against the bazooka(Read Full Review)
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11 February 2018

Aachen, the U.S. Army's Battle for Charlemagne's City in World War II, Robert W. Baumer. A very detailed look at the US capture of Aachen, the first major German city to fall into Allied hands during the Second World War, and the German attempts to lift the siege and defend the city. Perhaps a little too detailed in places, but otherwise a good account of this iconic battle on the borders of the Third Reich (Read Full Review)
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Doncaster in the Great War, Symeon Mark Waller. A look at the impact of the Great War on Doncaster, largely focusing on the human cost of the war, and the constant drip feed of bad news from the front. A good use of contemporary sources and wartime photographs gives a good feel for the period, and the result is a book that will be of value for those with an interest in the history of Doncaster (Read Full Review)
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World War II Infantry Fire Support Tactics, Gordon L. Rottman. Perhaps a bit over-ambitious, looking at Soviet, German, US and British infantry fire support tactics, officially during the entire war, but with a focus on the later years. Useful in that it brings together material on different weapons that are normally seen in isolation, so we see how mortars, machine guns, infantry guns, anti-tank guns and hand-held AT weapons were meant to work together (Read Full Review)
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4 February 2018

Zama 202 BC - Scipio crushes Hannibal in North Africa, Mir Bahmanyar. A look at the final major battle of the Second Punic War, a surprisingly difficult battle to understand, with significant differences between the main accounts of the battle, the armies involved and even its aftermath. Does a good job of working through the different sources and their accounts of the battle, producing a coherent view without hiding the difficulties.  Also covers the campaign that led up to the battle, and acknowledges the contribution by the African allies on both sides(Read Full Review)
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The Experimental Units of Hitler's Condor Legion, Rafael A. Permuy Lopez & Lucas Molina Franco. A very detailed, almost day-by-day and aircraft-by-aircraft, study of the experimental bomber and fighter units that served in Spain during the Civil War and tested some of the aircraft that did so much damage in 1939-41. Neither unit lasted for terribly long or contained many aircraft, and both turned into regular units, allowing the authors to work in such detail (Read Full Review)
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British Light Infantry & Rifle Tactics of the Napoleonic Wars, Philip Haythornthwaite. Nice to see the details of the light infantry tactics that are so often praised in accounts of the British Army's campaigns of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic War - looking at the evolution of light infantry  units, how they were trained, how they were meant to maneuver, how they were used in combat and finishing with some examples from 1813-1815(Read Full Review)
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28 January 2018

US Navy Ships vs Kamikazes 1944-45, Mark Stille. Looks at the reasons for the kamikaze attacks, the techniques used by them, the aircraft involved, the ships they targeted, the American response, and the effectiveness of the attacks. Includes a useful statistical analysis of the campaign, looking at if it was an effective use of resources. A good short account of the kamikaze campaign, looking at it from both sides (Read Full Review)
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Man of War - The Fighting Life of Admiral James Saumarez, Anthony Sullivan. An interesting biography of a less familiar senior British naval officer of the Napoleonic Wars, who served off the French coast and as a floating diplomatic in the Baltic, where he helped prevent an escalation of the war, as well as fighting at many of the major naval battles of the period and commanding at the two battles of Algerciras (Read Full Review)
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Stalin's Secret Police, Rupert Butler. Covers the full history of Soviet political policing, from the Revolution and Civil War, through Stalin's rule and the Second World War and onto the post-war and Cold War worlds. More of a history of Soviet repression than of the activities of the Secret Police, covering what they did rather than how they were organised or how they worked. A useful but rather grim look at one of history's darker corners (Read Full Review)
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21 January 2018

US Infantryman vs German Infantryman, European Theatre of Operations 1944, Steven J. Zaloga. Looks at three clashes between American and German infantry, from Normandy to the Ardennes, looking at how their units were equipped, organised and supported, and how that impacted on the fighting. I found the background information most interesting, looking at how the different sides were equipped and organised, and struggled to get into the perfectly well written battle accounts (Read Full Review)
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Nile River Gunboats 1882-1918, Angus Konstam. Looks at the increasingly powerful gunboats that supported Anglo-Egyptians operations on the Nile, from Gordon's disastrous invention in the Sudan and the attempts to save him to the eventual reconquest under Kitchener. Looks at the different classes of gunboat, the individual boats involved, how they were armed, armoured, powered and crewed and what life was like onboard, and finishes with a look at their two main campaigns (Read Full Review)
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Tippecanoe 1811 - The Prophet's battle, John F Winkler. Follows the campaign from the pressures on Indian land that helped trigger the fighting, through the rise of the Prophet, and the split that he caused in Indian society, and on to the actual fighting itself, looking at Harrison's careful efforts to reach Prophetstown with his army intact and the battle itself, a night attack on the American camp that failed to achieve its objectives, and ended the rule of the Prophet, but opened the way to the brief dominance of Tecumseh (Read Full Review)
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14 January 2018

Generals of the Bulge - Leadership in the U.S. Army's Greatest Battle, Jerry D. Morelock. A valuable study of the performance of a series of US generals, from Eisenhower, through the various levels of command down to Divisional, during the battle of the Bulge, the biggest single American land battle of the Second World War. Benefits greatly from the author's willingness to choose officers whose performance was less than impressive as well as those who shone during the battle. Includes some very useful debates on the bigger controversies of the battle (Read Full Review)
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Conquerors of the Roman Empire - The Vandals, Simon MacDowall. Tells the impressive story of the Vandals, who in not much more than a single generation crossed the Rhine into Gaul, established a kingdom in Spain and then did the same in North Africa, sacked Rome and briefly set themselves up as one of the major naval powers of the period. Also covers the earlier, rather obscure, history of the Vandals, and their eventual defeat and destruction by the Eastern Romans (Read Full Review)
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The Japanese Navy in World War II, ed. David C. Evans. A very valuable examination of the successes and failures of the Imperial Japanese Navy during the Second World War, written by some of the officers who were closest to the action. Provides a very different view of some very familiar battles, and some interesting insights into the flaws in the Japanese war effort, including a lack of a realistic war plan and the tendency to adopt over-complex plans (Read Full Review)
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7 January 2018

River Plate 1939 - The sinking of the Graf Spee, Angus Konstam. Looks at one of the earliest major British naval successes of the Second World War, the defeat and forced destruction of the pocket battleship Graf Spee by a much weaker force of British cruisers. Covers everything from the design of the warships, her commerce raiding career, and the allied hunt to the final destruction of Graf Spee by her own crew(Read Full Review)
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Death before Glory! The British Soldier in the West Indies in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars 1793-1815, Martin R. Howard. Looks at the costly campaigns in the West Indies, where disease was often more dangerous for either side than their opponents. Well organised, split into three - the armies, the campaigns and the soldier's experiences, and gives a good picture of a series of difficult campaigns, where isolated, disease afflicted, British forces slowly came to dominate the area (Read Full Review)
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Armoured Horsemen: With the Bays and Eight Army in North Africa and Italy, Peter Willett. Looks at the experiences of a British armoured unit during the key battles in North Africa and the last year of the Italian campaign, with a focus on the desert war. Gives us an interesting view into a generally well led but Public School dominated regiment, as well as the author's own experiences of the nature of armoured warfare. Also covers his post-war career in racing, to complete the picture (Read Full Review)
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