Military History Encyclopedia on the Web

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9 December

Private Beatson's War: Life, Death and Hope on the Western Front, ed. Shaun Springer and Stuart Humphreys. One of the most humane and thoughtful diaries to emerge from the Western Front. Beatson emerges as a literate, compassionate man, able to see his German opponents as human, while also determined to beat them. A reminder of the remarkable generation lost in the trenches of the First World War. [read full review]
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Battle BC, History Channel DVD. Eight episodes of a CGI-based series looking at Hannibal, David, Joshua, Caesar, Moses, Alexander, Ramses and Marathon, with highly stylised visuals. Aimed at the viewer with a general interest in history, but no prior knowledge of the period in question. [read full review]
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The Steel of the DLI: The 2nd Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry at War 1914-1918, John Sheen, A very detailed attack by attack, and almost casualty by casualty, history of the 2nd Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry on the Western Front. Gives a close-up view of the changing nature of the fighting and a poignant picture of the human cost of the war. [read full review]
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Escape, Evasion and Revenge, Marc H. Stevens. The remarkable story of a young Jewish refugee from Germany, Georg Franz Hein, who in September 1939 took the identity of a dead class mate and joined the RAF, becoming a bomber pilot. As Peter Stevens he was shot down over Germany, and spent four years in POW camps, knowing that if the Germans discovered his true identity he would almost certainly be shot. Despite this he made several attempts to escape, succeeding twice for short periods. [read full review]
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4 December

The Great Edwardian Naval Feud: Beresford's Vendetta against 'Jackie' Fisher, Richard Freeman. Admiral 'Jackie' Fisher was one of the greatest naval reformers in British history, but his first term as First Sea Lord was effectively ended by his feud with Admiral Charles Beresford. This book traces the relationship between the two men, from its friendly beginnings in the Victorian navy to its dramatic end in the years before the First World War [read full review]
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Escape from the Third Reich: Folke Bernadotte and the White Buses, Sune Persson. An account of the remarkable Swedish rescue effort that with Danish help rescued 17,000-20,000 people from Nazi concentration camps in the dying days of the Third Reich. A fascinating view of the chaotic last days of Nazi Germany, and of a very impressive humanitarian achievement. [read full review]
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29 November

Images of War: The Germans on the Somme, David Bilton. This illustrated history of the Somme front during the First World War from the German perspective provides an unfamiliar view of a familiar topic, both visually and in the narrative. A valuable work that challenges the standard view of the battle of the Somme of 1916 as a British defeat, as well as giving an unusual perspective on the four year long campaign on the Somme. [read full review]
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The Coral Sea 1942: The First Carrier Battle, Mark Stille, Campaign 214. A useful account of the battle of the Coral Sea and the thinking and events that led up to it, supported by some effective '3D' diagrams showing the series of aerial attacks on enemy carriers that were the most important aspect of the fighting. [read full review]
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Gladiator: Rome's Bloody Spectacle, Konstantin Nossov. An English translation and update of a Russian original, looking at the development and equipment of the gladiator, the different types of gladiator and how their fought, the rise of the dedicated amphitheatre, and finishing with a look at the difficulties of hosting a gladiatorial games, and the routine on the day of the games itself. [read full review]
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27 November

Images of War: Auschwitz Death Camp, Ian Baxter. A chilling photographic history of the Auschwitz Death Camp, from its original construction as a concentration camp, through its expansion into a massive centre of slave labour and extermination, and on to the Soviet liberation of the camp before looking at the state of the camp today [read full review]
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A Cavalryman in the Crimea: The Letters of Temple Godman, 5th Dragoon Guards, Philip Warner. A collection of fascinating letters written by Godman when he was a young cavalry officer serving in the Crimea, and that provide a very different view of life in the Crimea and the fighting at Balaclava and around Sebastopol. [read full review]
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Famous Faces of the Spanish Civil War, Steve Hurst Famous Faces of the Spanish Civil War, Steve Hurst. A look at the impact of the Spanish Civil War on a selection of artists who were either caught up in, or took part in, the fighting. Organised chronologically, so it also tells the story of the war, from the outbreak of the fighting to the Nationalist breakthrough on the Ebro. [read full review]

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On and off the Flight Deck: Reflections of a Naval Fighter Pilot in World War II, Henry 'Hank' Adlam On and off the Flight Deck: Reflections of a Naval Fighter Pilot in World War II, Henry 'Hank' Adlam. A rare example of an autobiography produced by a pilot in the Fleet Air Arm. Adlam served on escort carriers in the Atlantic, and on fleet carriers with the British Pacific Fleet, and gives us his opinions on the aircraft he flew or observed, the command structure in the Royal Navy and an account of the campaigns he fought in. [read full review]
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24 November

German Special Forces of World War II, Gordon Williamson. A useful look at the development and combat record of Germany's Special Forces, from the Brandenburgers, who under Abwehr control were the only German special forces in 1939, through the increasing number of SS, Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine special units formed as the war turned against Germany. [read full review]
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Business in Great Waters: The U-boat Wars 1916-1945, John Terraine. This is a classic account of the struggle between the German U-boat and the Allied navies during the First and Second World Wars, seen from both sides of the battle, and with excellent coverage of the intelligence and technological aspects of the fighting. [read full review]
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22 November

Try Ancient Warfare magazine for 6 months. Click to subscribeAncient Warfare Volume III Issue 5 . The Imperial Nemesis: Rome vs. Parthia. An interesting set of articles that look at the clash between Rome and her eastern neighbours in the Parthian Empire, including articles on Trajan's Parthian War, the armed diplomacy begun by Augustus and the famous Parthian bow. Variety comes with an article on the Athenian general Myronides, and a look at the Breviarum of Festus. [see more]
Images of War Malta GC: Rare Photographs from Wartime Archives, Jon Sutherland & Diane Canwell. A photographic look at Malta during the Second World War, covering the war in the air, the ground defences of the island, the Blitz, relations between the Maltese and the garrison, the convoys that brought essential supplies to the besieged island, and the victory celebrations that followed the end of the campaign in North Africa and the end of the siege [read full review]
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Churchill's Wit, The Definitive Collection, ed. Richard M. Langworth. A wide ranging collection of Churchill's wittiest comments, including extracts from his speeches and published works, as well as impromptu quips, all fully referenced and if required set in context. Also included is a good selection of quotes often incorrectly attributed to Churchill, with the correct attribution. [read full review]

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Dazzled and Deceived: Mimicry and Camouflage, Peter Forbes. Beginning with the discovery of mimicry in nature in the mid-Nineteenth century Forbes traces the development of our understanding of the processes behind mimicry and camouflage, both in nature and during the two World Wars. [read full review]

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18 November

The Wars of Alexander's Successors, 323-281 BC: Volume II: Battles and Tactics, Bob Bennett and Mike Roberts. A look at the better documented battles fought by the successors of Alexander the Great that helps to show how skilled they were as commanders in their own right. Also has good sections on the armies themselves, sieges, naval warfare and border warfare. A useful look at the battles that helped shape the ancient world after the disruption caused by Alexander [read full review]
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Swift to Battle: No.72 Squadron RAF in Action: Volume II 1942 to 1947, North Africa, Malta, Sicily, Southern France and Austria, Tom Docherty. A very detailed, almost day-by-day, account of the activities of No.72 Squadron during the Allied advance from Tunisia, up the Italian peninsula and into Austria, that gives a good feel of life within an RAF squadron during these campaigns [read full review]
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British Warships in the Age of Sail 1603-1714: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates, Rif Winfield. A very impressive reference work that gives details of the design, construction and reconstruction, service careers and when possible the captains of every warship to serve in the English and Royal Navies from 1603 to 1714, the period the three Anglo-Dutch Wars and the real beginnings of British naval power. [read full review]
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The Venlo Incident, Captain S. Payne Best. A valuable account of the time Captain Best spent in German captivity after he was captured during the Venlo incident, one of the most famous British intelligence failings of the Second World War. Best spent time in Gestapo and SS custody, and several years at Sachsenhausen concentration camp, where he was one of a number of V.I.P. prisoners kept in virtual isolation. [read full review]
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14 November

Hitler's Panzer Armies on the Eastern Front, Robert Kirchubel. A 'unit history' written on the largest scale, tracing the campaigns fought by the four Panzer Armies on the Eastern Front, from their roles in the early German victories, to their eventual defeat and destruction in the ruins of the Reich. A very useful contribution to the literature on the Eastern Front. [read full review]
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The Crusades: Crescent & The Cross (DVD). A 3-DVD boxed set that looks at the first three Crusades. Dramatic reconstructions supported by a good mix of experts means that the programmes give a well balanced account of the crusades, from the successful first crusade to the clash between Saladin and Richard the Lion Heart. [read full review]
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10 November

Sniper Ace: From the Eastern Front to Siberia, Bruno Sutkus, An account of the life of one of the most successful German snipers on the Eastern Front and of the decades he spent in exile in the Soviet Union, of most value for the picture it paints of the fate of many German prisoners of war when they fell into Soviet hands at the end of the war. [read full review]

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Atomic: The First War of Physics, Jim Baggott. A look at the race to develop the atom bomb that clearly explains the science behind the bomb and the problems faced in turning theory into practise, looking at the British, German, American and Soviet bomb programmes from the point of view of the individual scientists and of the Allied and Soviet spies attempting to discover what their enemies and allies knew or were capable of. [read full review]
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The Soldier: A History of Courage, Sacrifice and Brotherhood, Darren Moore. A study of the life of the soldier, based on first hand accounts and interviews from the Napoleonic Wars to the current wars in Afghanistan and Ira, and a valuable insight into the often devastating mental and physical cost of war to the soldiers on the front line. Moore's work serves as a valuable reminder that war should always be the last resort. [read full review]
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Arms and Armour of the Imperial Roman Soldier, From Marius to Commodus, 112 BC-AD 192, Raffaele d'Amato and Graham Sumner. A very impressive, hugely detailed, well organised and comprehensively illustrated look at the equipment of the Roman Soldier of the late Republic and early Empire, covering the arms, armour, cloths and symbols of the Roman infantry, cavalry, naval and auxiliary forces. [read full review]
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7 November

The Story of HMS Revenge, Alexander Stilwell. This book looks at the ten British warships to have borne the name Revenge, starting with one of the most famous Elizabethan warships and ending with a recently de-commissioned nuclear submarine. In between we find powerful sailing ships of the Anglo-Dutch and Napoleonic Wars, and a super-dreadnaught that fought at Jutland and took part in the hunt for the Bismarck. [read full review]
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The Four Days Battle of 1666, Frank L Fox. This is a detailed study of the longest major battle of the age of sail, using English and Dutch accounts of the fighting to produce a clear but detailed account of the battle, the events that led up to it and its aftermath. An excellent study of a battle often described as the 'Greatest Sea Fight of the Age of Sail', and one that came just as the old melee tactics were being replaced by the line of battle [read full review]
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Land Girls & Their Impact, Ann Kramer. For a long time a forgotten army, this book looks at the remarkable achievements of the Women's Land Army during the Second World War, the recruitment, training and daily lives of the land girls and lumber jills, and the reactions (both positive and negative) they inspired in rural communities [read full review]
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4 November

MiG Menace over Korea: The Story of Soviet Fighter Ace Nikolai Sutiagin, Yuri Sutiagin and Igor Seidov. An invaluable account of the career of the leading Soviet fighter ace of the Korean War, this book gives us a fascinating view of life in the Soviet Air Force during its top secret involvement in the Korean War, the only time when Soviet and American fighter pilots clashed in large numbers during the Cold War. [read full review]

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French Battleships, 1922-1956, John Jordan & Robert Dumas. A very detailed look at the generation of French battleships built or designed between the world wars, looking at the design, construction and military careers of the Dunkerque, Strasbourg, Richelieu, Jean Bart, Clemenceau and Gascogne, supported by an impressive number of plans and photographs. [read full review]

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The Battle of the Narrow Seas, Peter Scott. An account of the battles fought by Britain's Light Coastal Forces in the Channel and North Sea, written by Sir Peter Scott, the future conservationist and commander of one of the Motor Torpedo Boats whose exploits are described in the text. Written in time for the Christmas market of 1945 this is one of the most immediate and vibrant accounts of service during the Second World War that you will ever read. [read full review]

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Target Leipzig, The RAF's disastrous raid of 19/20 February 1944, Alan Cooper. A detailed account of one of the most costly Bomber Command raids of the Second World War, in which seventy nine Halifax and Lancaster heavy bombers were lost and 420 crewmen killed. At its best when Cooper takes us into the air with the bomber crews who took part in the disastrous attack of Leipzig. [read full review]

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19 October

Fighting for the French Foreign Legion: Memoirs of a Scottish Legionnaire, Alex Lochrie. A valuable account of life in the Legion during the period when it became an official part of the French armed forces, covering the selection process, training, and the Legion's involvement in peacekeeping in Africa and Bosnia as well as Operation Desert Storm. [read full review]

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Black Flag: The Surrender of Germany's U-Boats, 1945, Lawrence Paterson. A fascinating and well balanced look at the surrender of the German U-boat force, the only part of the German armed forces still to be stretched out around the world at the end of the Second World War. Paterson covers the surrenders at sea and in Allied ports, the Allied occupation of the remaining U-boat bases in France, Norway and Germany and the surrender of those men from the U-boat force who found them selves involved in the fighting on land in the last days of the war. [read full review]
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Captain Cook's War and Peace: The Royal Navy Years 1755-1768, John Robson. This interesting study fills a gap in our knowledge of Cook's career, and makes it very clear why he was chosen to command the Endeavour on her expedition into the Pacific, as well as providing a view of the Royal Navy in the period that saw it win command of the seas. [read full review]
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American Civil War Guerrilla Tactics, Sean McLachlan. A look at the various forms of irregular warfare that were a feature of the American Civil War, covering the campaigns themselves, the guerrilla and irregular leaders and their impact on the war as well as the actual tactics used by and against the guerillas. [read full review]

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Men of Steel: 1st SS Panzer Corps, The Ardennes and Eastern Front 1944-45, Michael Reynolds. A hugely detailed account of the battles fought by the 1st SS Panzer Corps in the last few months of the Second World War, covering its role in the Ardennes offensive in the west and the last German offensive of the war in Hungary. [read full review]

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From Democrats to Kings, Michael Scott. A hugely entertaining account of the tumultuous century between the defeat of Athens at the end of the Peloponnesian War and the aftermath of the death of Alexander the Great, a period that saw the city states of ancient Greece lose their independence, and come under the rule of the great Hellenistic kingdoms. [read full review]

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8 October

Carmarthen Pals: A History of the 15th (Service) Battalion The Welsh Regiment, 1914-1919, Steven John. A detailed and sobering account of the activities of a single battalion on the Western Front during some of the most famous battles of the First World War, including the Somme, Passchendaele and the final victorious offensives of 1918. [read full review]
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The Art of Leadership, Field Marshal The Viscount Montgomery of Alamein. This is a revised edition of Monty's classic work on leadership including a chapter comparing Churchill and Eisenhower that was excluded from the original work. Of interest both for Montgomery's thoughts on what made a good leader and for the insight it gives us into his attitudes towards some of his wartime contemporaries. [read full review]

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Hitler's Gulf War - The Fight for Iraq 1941, Barrie G James. A compelling account of one of the more obscure but important campaigns of the Second World War, presented from the point of view of the British, Iraqi and German participants in the Iraqi revolt that threatened to hand the Germans a commanding position in the Middle East. [read full review]

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Nuclear Dawn: The Atomic Bomb from the Manhattan Project to the Cold War, James P. Delgado. A look at the development of the Nuclear Bomb from the first research in radiation, to the wartime development and use of the first atom bombs and on to the tests at Bikini Atoll and the early years of the Cold War. [read full review]
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Saracen Strongholds 1100-1500, David Nicole. The Central and Eastern Islamic Lands, David Nicolle. An effective introduction or overview of a vast topic, looking at the fortifications of the Seljuks, Ayyubids, Mamluks, Mongols and Assassins in an area that stretched from modern Turkey and Egypt east to India.

[read full review]
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Roman Conquests: Italy, Ross Cowan. A look at the Roman conquest of the Italian Peninsula, the series of wars that saw Rome transformed from a small city state in central Italy into a power that was on the verge of conquering the ancient Mediterranean world. A lack of contemporary sources makes this a difficult period to write about, but Cowan has produced a convincing narrative without ignoring some of the complexity.

[read full review]
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4 October

War: From Ancient Egypt to Iraq, ed. Saul David. A massive and beautifully illustrated look at the history of war from the earliest recorded battles to the recent conflict in Iraq. By focusing on the most significant wars the authors have been able to produce a more readable book than is normal in this genre, and the wide scope of the book means that every reader should find something that is new to them. [read full review]
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30 September

The Bantams, Sidney Allinson. A look at the Bantam units raised in Britain and Empire during the First World War for men under the 5'3" height requirement for the British Army. Well supported by reminiscences from the Bantams, this book should help to prevent them from being forgotten.

[read full review]
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At Rommel's Side: The Lost Letters of Hans-Joachim Schraepler, ed. Hans-Albrecht Schraepler. A series of letters written by Rommel's adjutant in North Africa in 1941 and edited by his son and that provide an interesting new layer of information to our knowledge of the war in the desert.

[read full review]
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Who Dares Wins: The SAS and the Iranian Embassy Siege 1980, Gregory Fremont-Barnes. A look at the events behind one of the defining images of the early 1980s - the first public appearance of the SAS on the balcony of the Iranian Embassy as they ended the six-day long siege.

[read full review]
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Young Nelsons - Boy Sailors during the Napoleonic Wars, D.A.B. Ronald. A fascinating book that looks at the boy sailors of the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars, casting an interesting light on a group of sailors who only otherwise seem to appear in early volumes of long running series of naval novels.

[read full review]
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28 September 2009

Ancient Warfare Volume III Issue 4 . Ancient Warfare Vol III, Issue 4: August/ September 2009: Implacable enemies: the Barcids at War. A nice spread of articles on Hannibal and his family, looking at Cannae, Hannibal's siege craft, Hasdrubal's invasion of Italy and the Barcid army, supported by articles on the Ancient Egyptian Archer and a 7th century Byzantine military treatise that portrays a very unfamiliar cavalry army. [see more] Try Ancient Warfare magazine for 6 months. Click to subscribe
Marching with the Tigers: The History of the Royal Leicestershire Regiment 1955-1975, Michael Goldschmidt. A good example of the classic regimental history that should be of great interest to anyone who has an association with the Royal Leicestershire Regiment, while also making a useful contribution to the history of the post-war British army. [read full review]

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The Cabanatuan Prison Raid, The Philippines 1945, Gordon L. Rottman. An engaging account of one of the most successful raids of the Second World War - the rescue of over 500 POWs from the Japanese camp at Cabanatuan on the Philippines by a force made up of US Rangers, Alamo Scouts and local guerrillas. [read full review]
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The Peninsular War: A Battlefield Guide, Andrew Rawson. A very useful guide book for anyone wanting to visit the British battlefields of the Peninsular War, from Portugal to the French border, with accounts of each major battle followed by a tour of the modern battlefield, each supported by photographs of key features and sketch maps to illustrate the battles. [read full review]

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25 September 2009

Rangers Lead the Way: Pointe-du-Hoc D-Day 1944, Steven J. Zaloga. This is the first entry in a new Osprey series, looking at some of the most famous raids in military history, starting with the US Rangers' attack on the German gun battery on Pointe-du-Hoc on D-Day. The result is a detailed account of the raid that includes some very interesting material about the German coastal defences, as well as a good account of the raid itself and the German counterattack. A promising start to this new series. [read full review]
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Panzer Divisions 1944-45, Pier Paolo Battistelli. This lavishly illustrated Osprey covers the later days of the German panzer divisions, including background on weapons, tactics, operations and silhouette style organisational charts. A fascinating period, with the once feared panzer divisions no longer kings of the battlefield but still a powerful force and capable of small scale victories against the vast tide of Soviet, British and American forces [read full review]
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Israel's Lightning Strike: The raid on Entebbe 1976, Simon Dunstan. This second entry in Osprey's new Raid series looks at the long range operation mounted by the Israelis to rescue terrorist hostages being held at Entebbe in Uganda. After sections on hijacking and the Palestinian terrorist organisations, we get a day-by-day account of the crisis, while the second half of the book focuses on the raid. A well organized and clearly written account of one of the most daring anti-terrorist operations ever carried out. [Read Full Review]
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11 September 2009

Fallen Eagle: How the Royal Navy Captured Napoleon, Norman MacKenzie. A fascinating book that looks at the crucial period between the battle of Waterloo and Napoleon going into exile on St. Helena, giving an insight into the political manoeuvring in Paris that led to Napoleon's second fall from power and the concerns of the British naval officers to whom he surrendered. [read full review]
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English Castles 1200-1300, Christopher Gravett. A useful introduction to the topic, covering the construction and design of the castle, life in the castle in war and peace and the main conflicts that involved the English castles during this period. Well illustrated, with some good reconstructions of castles as they might have appeared at the time. [read full review]
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2 September 2009

A Waterloo Hero: The Reminiscences of Friedrich Lindau, ed. James Bogle and Andrew Uffindell. A rare example of a memoir written by a private soldier in Wellington's army, in this case a skirmisher in the King's German Legion who fought in the last few years of the Peninsular War and at Waterloo, where he was involved in the fighting at La Haye Sainte. A valuable insight into the daily life and preoccupations of one of Wellington's men. [read full review]
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The German Invasion of Norway, April 1940, Geirr H Haarr. This is a monumental, hugely detailed and very impressive account of the early stages of the German invasion of Norway, focusing on the build-up to war, the initial German attack and the naval campaigns that followed, and with much more attention paid to the Norwegian point of view than is often the case. A definitive history of the naval aspects of the campaign, and highly recommended. [read full review]
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The Battle of Loos, Philip Warner. The heart of this book is a series of eyewitness accounts of the battle from each of the British divisions involved in the battle, mostly taken from letters written to the author by survivors of the fighting in the 1970s. The result is a classic work of military history that takes us into the trenches in a way that few other books manage. [read full review]
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