Military History Encyclopedia on the Web

2017 onwards - 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

27 December 2013

Waterloo 1815 - Captain Mercer's Journal, ed. W.H. Fitchett. A fascinating account of the Waterloo campaign as seen by an officer in the horse-artillery, focusing almost entirely on events as they were known to Mercer at the time. As a result we get a real idea of the fog of war and just how little an participant in a major battle might know about the wider events of the day. [read full review]
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Warfare in the Ancient World, Brian Todd Carey, Joseph B. Allfree & John Cairns. Looks at twenty-one major battles and the armies that fought them, and traces how warfare developed over the long span of Ancient History. Written as an undergraduate textbook the result is a useful overview of four and a half thousand years of military history, supported by some excellent battle maps. [read full review]
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British Army Uniforms from 1751 to 1783, Carl Franklin. A splendid visual guide to the uniforms of the British army during the period of the Seven Years' War and the American War of Independence, with a full page of colour illustrations for each infantry, cavalry and guard regiment. A super guide for the modeller or painter, making it effortless to visualise each of the hundreds of units covered. [read full review]
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23 December 2013

China's Wars - Rousing the Dragon 1894-1949, Philip Jowett. Covers the period from the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95 to the Communist victory in the Civil War of 1946-49, a period dominated first by the warlords who ripped China apart and then by the Japanese who attempted to take advantage of the chaos to establish their own brutal Empire in China. [read full review]
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Images of War: Great Push, the Battle of the Somme 1916, William Langford. A selection of photographs taken from the pictorial magazine The Great Push, which ran from July to November 1916 and included some 700 official photographs and film stills. A fascinating collection of photographs that give an interesting insight into the image the British Army wanted to give of the fighting on the Somme. [read full review]
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Cruiser HNLMS Tromp, Jantinus Mulder. Looks at the design, construction and wartime career of the light cruiser HNLMS Tromp, one of the most famous Dutch ships of the Second World War and the ship the Japanese claimed to have sunk more often than any other. Contains a good selection of photographs and plans of the Tromp and an account of her wartime career that focuses on the more dramatic moments of her career in Far Eastern seas. [read full review]
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16 December 2013

The Journey's End Battalion: The 9th East Surrey in the Great War, Michael Lucas. A history of the battalion in which R.C. Sherriff, author of Journey's End, served during the First World War, mainly focusing on the actual history of the battalion but with sections on Sherriff's experiences, how they influenced his work and the writing and reception of his famous play. [read full review]
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The Fear in the Sky: Vivid Memories of Operational Aircrews in World War Two, Pat Cunningham. Ten mini-memoirs written by operational aircrew who fought in a variety of different roles during the Second World War, including bomber command, night fighters, met flights, torpedo bombers and covering a mix of duties, including pilots, navigators, gunners, engineers and wireless operators. Most also give a brief summary of their post-war lives and reflect on their earlier exploits. [read full review]
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Warsaw 1944 - An Insurgent's Journal of the Uprising, Zbigniew Czajkowski. The wartime journal of a teenage Polish fighter who took part in the Warsaw uprising of 1944 and was one of only three in his ten-strong squad to survive the battle. Written just after the fighting it takes us down into the streets and sewers of Warsaw as the brave but doomed uprising struggled to hold off the Germans in the vain hope that the Soviets would liberate the city. [read full review]
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10 December 2013

The Napoleonic Art of Keith Rocco, Peter Harrington. Looks at the paintings of a modern proponent of the historical painting genre, with high quality prints of a wide selection of his paintings, ranging from studies of individual soldiers to large scale battle scenes. Supported by a useful text that explains the historical context for the painting and the artist's methods and motivation. [read full review]
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The British Sailor of the Second World War, Angus Konstam. A concise look at the life of the British sailor of the Second World War, looking at their training, daily life on the ships (with the difference between different types and sizes of particular interest), the activities of the Home Fleet, Mediterranean Fleet and various Far Eastern fleets and the eventual process of demobilisation. [read full review]
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4 December 2013

US Marine Infantry Combat Uniforms and Equipment 2000-12, J Kenneth Eward. Looks at the equipment used by the US Marine Corps during a prolonged period of combat that forced the introduction of improved uniforms, protective equipment and weapons to deal with an unexpectedly dangerous battlefield. Behind the sea of acronyms (for which the author can't be blamed!) is a very valuable account of the way in which the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have forced the Marines into a rapid programme of re-equipment. [read full review]
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Eager for Glory: The untold story of Drusus the Elder, Conqueror of Germany, Lindsay Powell. A useful biography of an important figure during the birth of Imperial Rome, a stepson of Augustus, successful general who conquered the area just to the north of the Alps and campaigned in Germany, where he reached the Elbe, and a skilled administrator and even an explorer. [read full review]
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27 November 2013

Servants of Evil - Voices from Hitler's Army, Bob Carruthers. A selection of first hands accounts of their experiences written by members of the German army, the U-boat arm of the navy and the Luftwaffe, tracing the rise and fall of the Nazi war machine. Fascinating both for the experiences of the writers and for its insight into their misconceptions and the impact Nazi propaganda had on them. [read full review]
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The Longbow, Mike Loades. A super look at the longbow as a military weapon, covering the development of the bow, how it might have been used in battle (taking into account the number of arrows we know to have been available, physical stamina etc), and the way in which the multi-level armour of the period coped with the threat. An excellent guide to this iconic English weapon and its role in battle. [read full review]
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13 November 2013

Finland's War of Choice - The Troubled German-Finnish Coalition in World War II, Henrik O. Lunde. A history of the Finnish 'Continuation War', which found the Finns fighting alongside the Germans in the Soviet Union, a democracy fighting alongside a dictatorship in perhaps the most brutal conflict in history. Looks at the background to Finnish entry into the war, their confused war aims, the course of the fighting and the eventual Finnish attempts to exit the war and survive as an independent nation. [read full review]
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Compared and Contrasted: Weapons of World War II, Michael E. Haskew. Compares competing weapons systems using a series of generally well designed illustrations, allowing the reader to get an idea of how the different tanks, aircraft, guns and ships of particular periods compared to each other. A nice idea that makes it easier to visualise some of the reality behind the dry statistics that normally describe these weapon systems. [read full review]
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12 November 2013

Albert Kesselring, Pier Paolo Battistelli. A short biography of Albert Kesselring, who began the Second World War as a senior Luftwaffe commander during the invasion of Poland and the battle of Britain but is best known for his role as commander-in-chief in Italy for most of the lengthy German defence of the Italian peninsula, where he played a major part in holding up the Allied advance for so long. [read full review]
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The Mareth Line 1943: The End in Africa, Ken Ford. Looks at the final battles between Montgomery and Rommel, from the retreat after El Alamein, through the various short-lived delaying battles to the fight for the Mareth Line and the final collapse of the Axis position in North Africa, including the battle for the Mareth Line. Clearly written and well illustrated, this covers a period in North Africa that is often skipped over. [read full review]
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6 November 2013

Secret Flotillas: Clandestine Sea Operations to Brittany 1940-44 Vol 1, Brook Richards. Looks at the efforts to maintain a clandestine sea link between Britain and Brittany, transferring agents and supplies to France and rescuing a wide range of people from France (including members of the resistance on the run, Allied airmen and other evaders). A splendid account of a difficult and bold series of operations. [read full review]
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The SBS in World War II - An Illustrated History, Gavin Mortimer. Follows the history of the Special Boat Squadron from a fairly disastrous start to its later successes across the eastern Mediterranean. The small size of the unit allows Mortimer to include detailed accounts of many if not most SBS operations, including some disasters amongst the many spectacular successes. [read full review]
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30 October 2013

Medieval Warfare II 6: Frustrating the Fatimids: Basil II and the conquest of Syria. Looks at the clash between Byzantium and the impressive Fatimid Empire, which had expanded from north Africa to include Egypt and much of Syria, before being halted by the able Byzantine emperor Basil II. Also includes articles on rural revolts in Burgundy, the siege of Harlech, the siege of Rouen and the naval commander Eustace the Monk. [read full review]
Medieval Warfare III 3 - The advance of the Seljuq Turks: Byzantine power in decline. Looks at both sides in the clash between Byzantium and the Seljuq Turks, with articles on Manzikert and Myriokephalon, the rise of the Seljuqs, Seljuq technology, the Byzantine army of the period and the Byzantine sources. Also looks at the Scottish invasion of England of 1138 and late Medieval Irish warriors. [read full review]
Medieval Warfare Vol III Issue 4 - The Albigensian Crusade: Catharism condemned. Focuses on the early thirteenth century crusade against the Cathar heresy in southern France, a bloodthirsty episode that greatly expanded the definition of a crusade. Also includes a look at the fate of disabled warriors and the Hungarian campaign in Italy in 1348-50. [read full review]

28 October 2013

Robert E. Lee in War and Peace - The Photographic History of a Confederate and American Icon, Donald A. Hopkins. Combines an examination of every known 'from life' photograph of Robert E. Lee with an history of photography during this period and biographies of the photographers who took the photos. A fascinating book for the general reader and a useful reference work for the collector. [read full review]
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The Great Event, B. Randolph Beynon. A lengthy history of the American Civil War supported by a vast number of quotations - over 1,000 during the full length of the book, with a good mix of familiar and unfamiliar quotes from a wide range of figures on both sides, all connected by a good history of the war. [read full review]
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Unusual Footnotes to the Korean War, Paul Edwards, a selection of 33 short articles on unusual aspects of the Korean War, covering most phases of the war and a wide range of interesting topics that help remove the normal image of this as a fairly monolithic war. A nice way of bringing together a collection of interesting stories, most of which wouldn't have supported an entire book of their own. [read full review]
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Destination Berchtesgaden - The US Seventh Army during World War II, John Frayn Turner & Robert Jackson. A straightforward narrative history of the US Seventh Army's battles from Sicily, to the south of France and on to the Ardennes, the German border, the crossing of the Thine and the advance into Germany. [read full review]
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22 October 2013

Hitler's Wave Breaker Concept: An Analysis of the German End Game in the Baltic, Henrik O. Lunde. A detailed examination of the thinking that led to a large German army being trapped on the Baltic coast during the last months of the Second World War, when those experienced troops would have been invaluable in the battle for Berlin. Looks at Hitler's reasons for insisting on defending the Baltic coast and tests them to see if they were valid. [read full review]
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A Gunner's Great War, Ian Ronayne. Based around the journal of Clarence Ahier, a Jersey man who served in the artillery during the First World War, fighting on the Somme in 1916 and Ypres in 1917 before ending up as part of the British garrison in India. The journal is supported by a useful framework that puts Ahier's experiences into context. A useful view of the Great War from the position of the guns rather than from the trenches. [read full review]
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21 October 2013

The Complete George Cross, Kevin Brazier. A single volume history of the George Cross, with brief accounts of each award, both of the George Cross and of awards that were later exchanged for the GC, a total of 406 awards at the time of writing. The main focus is on brief accounts of the incidents which led to the award, with a sentence of two on earlier life or later fate. A good single volume reference work on the GC. [read full review]
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Empires of the Dead - How One Man's Vision led to the Creation of WWI's War Graves, David Crane. Combines a biography of Fabian Ware and a history of the Commonwealth war cemeteries that he played such a major part in creating. Recreates the controversies that surrounded these cemeteries that are now such an accepted part of the British and Commonwealth reaction to the slaughter of the Great War. [read full review]
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14 October 2013

With Napoleon's Guard in Russia - The memoirs of Major Vionnet 1812, Louis Joseph Vionnet, trans. Jonathan North. Fascinating memoir written by an officer in the French Imperial Guard during the campaign in Russia in 1812 and the main part of the campaign in Germany in 1813. Vionnet gets us to Moscow rather quickly, but provides far more detail for the fire in Moscow and the desperate retreat which destroyed the Grand Army. [read full review]
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Images of War: Royal Flying Corps, Alistair Smith. Four photo albums showing aspects of live in the RFC, including training at Tangmere and in Canada and early seaplanes on the River Crouch. Includes some astounding pictures of aircraft destroyed in crashes or by bad weather, as well as a good selection illustrating daily life in the RFC away from the front line. [read full review]
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8 October 2013

Images of War: Stuka, Hitler's Lethal Dive Bomber, Alistair Smith. A collection of photos from the album of Erich Heine, a Stuka gunner and radio operator who mainly fought on the Eastern Front. Includes a good selection from his training, portraits, group photos, some fascinating aerial shots and a set from Luftwaffe funerals that illustrate how dangerous the ground attack role could be. [read full review]
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The First Blitz, Andrew P Hyde. Inspired by a family connection to one of the victims of a bomb that hit a London primary school in June 1917, this book looks at the development of the German aerial attacks on Britain, with a focus on the most successful period of Gotha raids, the unit that carried them out and the leader who briefly turned that unit into an effective weapon. [read full review]
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4 October 2013

Images of War: The Germans in Flanders 1915-1916, David Bilton. A narrative history of the fighting in Flanders in 1915 and 1916 as seen from the German side, supported by a superb collection of photographs. Concludes with a chronology of the main events during these two years and a brief history of each German division that fought in Flanders in this period. [read full review]
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Jocks in the Jungle - Black Watch & Cameronians as Chindits, Gordon Thorburn. Looks at two of the normal units of British soldiers that were turned into Chindits and took part in the second and most gruelling of the Chindits raids. Looks at the history of the two regiments, the first Chindit operation, all building up to a detailed examination of the second Chindit raid, focusing on the columns that included the Black Watch and Cameronians. [read full review]
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26 September 2013

Giap - The General who Defeated American in Vietnam, James A Warren. Biography of the most important Vietnamese general during the wars against France and the United States, a military leader who understood that political will was the key to the result of both wars and who was able to wear down the will of one of the world's great super powers. [read full review]
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The Boys of '67: Charlie Company's War in Vietnam, Andrew Wiest. Inspired by a meeting with a veteran of the company, this followed Charlie Company from its formation in the US, through training and on to its original men's year-long tour of duty in Vietnam. A rather melancholy book, as the men we have followed begin to be killed or wounded without any sign that their efforts were having any impact in Vietnam, but a very valuable study of the impact of war. [read full review]
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20 September 2013

Bayonets - An Illustrated History, Martin J. Brayley. A super guide for the collector or reference work for the historian, looking at the bayonets used in thirty-seven countries since 1650, covering over 300 different bayonets with historical details, design notes and excellent colour photos. Perhaps a bit too focused for the general reader, but a valuable reference work for the bayonet collector or military historian. [read full review]
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The Hunters and the Hunted - the Elimination of German Surface Warships around the World, 1914-15, Bryan Perrett. A study of the fate of the warships of Imperial Germany's that found themselves posted overseas at the start of the First World War, most of which undertook campaigns as surface raiders, attacking Allied shipping around the world. Some had dramatic careers, but all were tracked down and sunk by early in 1915, after a major effort by the Royal Navy and other Allied navies. [read full review]
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17 September 2013

Ancient Warfare Vol VII, Issue 1: Warriors of the Nile - Conflict in Ancient Egypt. Looks at the sources for Ancient Egyptian military history, the equipment buried with Tutankhamen, the battle of Kadesh, Egypt's fortified borders, the Hyksos, and letters between the major Kings of the period. Also looks at the standards held by the Roman Legion and a clash between an outpost of Macedonian civilisation in central Asia and the Han Empire of China. [read full review]
Ancient Warfare Vol VII, Issue 2: Struggle for control: Wars in ancient Sicily. Focuses on the series of wars between Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans and native Sicilians that turned Sicily into a battleground in the centuries before the eventual Roman conquest, with good coverage of the wars between the Greek and Punic settlers and the tyrants that ruled for so long. Also looks at Roman ownership marks, attempts to avoid service in the Legions and Alexander's victory at the Granicus. [read full review]
Ancient Warfare Vol VII, Issue 3: Conquerors of Italy: The Early Roman Republic.. Focuses on the centuries of warfare that saw Rome grow from a small city-state dominated by its Etruscan neighbours into the only power left in mainland Italy and one on the verge of bursting out into the rest of the Ancient world.  An interesting selection of articles on this pivotal but fairly obscure period of Roman history. [read full review]

13 September 2013

Edge of Empire: Rome's Frontier on the Lower Rhine, Jona Lendering and Arjen Bosman. An interesting look at the history of the Low Countries and nearby areas during the Roman Empire, when they formed part of the border of the Roman world. The authors paint a picture of a largely prosperous area that survived the fall of Rome better than most, but that was vulnerable to attack from across the Rhine. [read full review]
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Secret Weapons: Death Rays, Doodlebugs and Churchill's Golden Goose, Brian J. Ford. A good popular history of the secret weapons of the Second World War, the scientific research behind them, their effect on the war (if any) and their impact on the post-war world. Covers a wide range of projects from all of the major combatants, includes good sections on the code breakers, rocketry and the nuclear bomb. [read full review]
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2 September 2013

The True German: The Diary of a World War II Military Judge, Werner Otto Müller-Hill. A diary recording the last year of the Second World War as seen by a German military judge with a hostile view of the Nazi regime and a surprising amount of knowledge of the darker secrets of the holocaust. A fascinating read, and a valuable source for a study of the last year of the Third Reich. [read full review]
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The SS: Hitler's Instrument of Terror, Gordon Williamson. Looks at the full history of the SS, including its formation, the Waffen SS fighting units and the many other sections of the organisation, including the SD, the Gestapo, the concentration camps and the vast industrial empires it controlled. [read full review]
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To the Last Man - The Battle for Normandy's Cotentin Peninsula and Brittany, Randolph Bradham. An account of the American campaigns in the Cotentin and in Brittany, the first well known as part of the D-Day campaign, the second less familiar as the focus of the action began to move east. The second half is stronger, partly because of that lack of familiarity. [read full review]
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28 August 2013

The Birth of the Royal Marines 1664-1802, Britt Zerbe. A study of the formation of the Royal Marines, focusing on the fifty years from 1755 when the current Marine Corps was formed. Organised thematically, looking at the formation, administration, manning and uses of the Marines, both as a police force (onboard ship and on shore) and as a military force. [read full review]
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Greece and Rome at War, Peter Connolly. An excellent military history of Ancient Greece and Rome, including an outline of military events and a detailed examination of the organisation and equipment of the armies of the period, based on a mix of documentary evidence, art and archaeology, hands-on reconstructions and visits to the battlefields. [read full review]
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20 August 2013

Airway to the East 1918-1920 and the collapse of No.1 Aerial Route RAF, Clive Semple. An account of the disastrous failure of the RAF's first attempt to move large numbers of aircraft over a long distance by air, in this case from France to Egypt in 1919. Eight men were killed and many of the aircraft were lost before the attempt was abandoned, but it did provide some invaluable experience in the long-distance movement of military aircraft. [read full review]
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Carve Her Name With Pride, R. J. Minney. The classic biography of Violette Szabo, one of the most famous SOE operatives of the Second World War, tracing her life from her childhood in Britain and France to her brief tragic wartime marriage and her career in SOE, which saw her captured on her second mission, imprisoned, tortured and finally executed in the last days of the war. [read full review]
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15 August 2013

Walcheren 1809, Martin R. Howard. A history of one of the great disasters of British military history, when a large army was sent to try and capture Antwerp but stalled at Walcheren where disease destroyed the army. A good study of a failed amphibious expedition and an example of how not to carry out a large scale expedition [read full review]
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Italian Rapier Combat: Capo Ferro's 'Gran Simalcro', ed. Jared Kirby. A translation of a classic Italian manual on fighting with the rapier, complete with reproductions of a mix of illustrations from two early editions of this famous work. Most technical terms have been left in Italian, with clear explanations at the start, so the book is best suited to someone with an interest in fencing or authentic period fighting methods. [read full review]
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12 August 2013

Operation Barbarossa - The German Invasion of Soviet Russia, Robert Kirchubel. An excellent operational history of Barbarossa based on the three Osprey Campaign books, but with the text entirely reorganised and expanded where necessary. Supported by the usual excellent Osprey maps and illustrations, the result is a detailed but readable account of Operation Barbarossa, the biggest German gamble of the Second World War. [read full review]
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The Waterloo Archive: Volume IV: British Sources, ed. Gareth Glover. A splendid selection of sources, mainly letters written just before and after the battle of Waterloo, describing the campaign, the battle itself and its aftermath. Provides a mix of personal accounts of the fighting, rumours from the period before and after and the mundane concern of the soldiers in the field. A fantastic source for anyone interested in Waterloo or in Napoleonic warfare in general. [read full review]
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6 August 2013

Stalingrad The Infernal Cauldron, Stephen Walsh. A good medium length of the battle of Stalingrad, covering the build-up to the German siege, the siege itself, the Soviet counterattack and German attempts to break through to the trapped Sixth Army. Well illustrated and supported by clear useful maps both of the fighting in the city itself and of the wider campaigns. [read full review]
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Somme Success: The Royal Flying Corps and the Battle of the Somme 1916, Peter Hart. A compelling account of the aerial battle fought alongside the more famous fighting on the ground during the long battle of the Somme. Focuses on what the air forces were attempting to achieve and how successful they were, with the more familiar duals between air aces and technological developments placed more firmly in context than is normally the case. [read full review]
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31 July 2013

Anti-Tank: The Story of a Desert Gunner in the Second World War, Mark Carter. The real life adventures of the commander of a 25pdr gun crew in North Africa, through the period of rapid advances and retreats and on to the final Allied advance after El Alamein. Focuses on the more dramatic episodes of Carter's career, producing an exciting account of his life during the ever-changing desert war. [read full review]
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British Paratroop vs Fallschirmjäger: Mediterranean 1942-43, David Greentree. Focuses on three direct clashes between British and German paratroops in North Africa and Sicily, a period when the Germans were already battle hardened while their British opponents were learning their craft. Combines a brief history of both forces with more detailed examinations of the three clashes and an examination of the lessons both sides learnt from them. [read full review]
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26 July 2013

The Rice Paddy Navy, US Sailors Undercover in China, Linda Kush. The story of a US Navy weather reporting service that expanded into a major military force in China, training guerrillas, running an intelligence network, and also managing to report on the weather in China, a key factor in forecasting the weather over the Pacific theatre. [read full review]
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Images of War: Panzer IV at War 1939-1945, Paul Thomas. A super collection of photos of the Panzer IV and related vehicles, tracing its evolution from the infantry support tank of 1939, to the king of the mid-war battlefield and on its use as the basis of a large number of related vehicles towards the end of the war. Lot of good pictures from different angles make this a useful book for the modeller. [read full review]
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17 July 2013

Bronze Age Military Equipment, Dan Howard. A detailed survey of Bronze Age weapons, armour and shields, focusing mainly on the rare survivals and the textual evidence to try and reproduce the military equipment of the Near East, Middle East and eastern Mediterranean. A very valuable summary of the current state of knowledge on this early period in military history. [read full review]
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The Peninsular War: Wellington's Battlefields Revisited, Ian Fletcher. A collection of beautifully taken colour photographs showing key elements of the British battlegrounds of the Peninsular War, from the early battles in Portugal, through Spain to the invasion of France. Gives a clear idea of the sort of landscapes faced by Wellington and his opponents and acts as useful supplement to any general history of the war. [read full review]
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16 July 2013

Operation Enduring Freedom: America's Afghan War 2001 to 2002, Tim Ripley. A well balanced account of the American campaign to topple the Taliban and disrupt or destroy Al Qaeda, with interesting sections on the pre-war Taliban, the CIA's early involvement in Afghanistan, the uneven progress of the short war and the controversial aftermath of the removal of the Taliban from power. [read full review]
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Blackbeard's Last Fight, Pirate Hunting in North Carolina 1718, Angus Konstam. A look at one of the smallest famous naval battles, when Blackbeard and around twenty five pirates were attacked and defeated by sixty Royal Navy men on two unarmed ships, a battle that was seen as the marking the end of the 'Golden Age' of piracy. An interesting look at a well planned and well executed anti piracy raid. [read full review]
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5 July 2013

The Silent Service in World War II, ed. Edward Monroe-Jones and Michael Green. A collection of first-hand accounts of life in American submarines in the Pacific during the Second World War, from the early days in a handful of out-of-date subs to the eventual dominance of the fleet submarines and the destruction of much of the Japanese merchant marine. [read full review]
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A Reluctant Hero: The Life and Times of Robert Ryder VC, Richard Hopton. A biography of the naval commander at the St Nazairre raid, who after a pre-war career dominated by sailing ships (he sailed home from China in a yacht built for the task and was the naval commander on the British Graham Land Expedition), he had a fairly distinguished wartime career, which included the raid on St. Nazairre, Dieppe and the D-Day Landings. [read full review]
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28 June 2013

Flying Catalinas, The Consolidated PBY Catalina in World War Two, Andrew Hendrie. A detailed operational history of the Catalina written by a wartime member of RAF Coastal Command. Mainly consists of accounts of individual Catalina sorties, including most attacks on Submarines and some notable air-sea rescue missions, giving a clear picture of the wide-ranging service of this remarkable aircraft. [read full review]
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Five Days that Shook the World, Nicholas Best. A history of the last five days of the Second World War in Europe, from the death of Mussolini to the German surrender, focusing on the viewpoint and reactions of participants in those events, including soldiers, civilians, politicians and future celebrities. A fascinating read and an unusual view of these famous days. [read full review]
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27 June 2013

The Spanish Army in North America, 1700-1793, René Chartrand. Covers a large topic - the regular Spanish and American and American militia troops that served in Central America, Cuba, Hispaniola, Mexico and across a vast area that stretched from California to Florida. Supported by some excellent illustrations, including a super set of uniform drawings from 1780. [read full review]
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US Eighth Air Force in Europe: Vol 2 The Eagle Spreads It's Wing: Blitz Week, Black Tuesday, Blood and Oil, Martin W. Bowman. Starts with the attack on Ploesti and covers the costly period when US bombers were penetrating deep into Germany without fighter escorts, including the raids on Regensburg and Schweinfurt and ending in December 1943. This is an excellent first hand and oral history of the bombing campaign, although would benefit from a stronger structure. [Read Full Review]
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20 June 2013

Deceiving Hitler, Terry Crowdy. Looks at the full range of methods used to deceive the Germans during the Second World War, from the earliest attempts to discourage a German invasion to the triumphant deception plans that surrounded the D-Day landings. Covers physical deception (models, false radio signals etc) and the famous double cross network of controlled German agents to paint a full picture of the British deception campaign. [read full review]
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A Splendid Little War, Derek Robinson. The fourth entry in the author's RFC Quartet follows a British squadron fighting in southern Russia during the 'Intervention' of 1919, tracing the activities of a fictional squadron of volunteers fighting for Denikin and against the Bolsheviks. Combines a good grasp of the dark and wild humour of the often short-lived aircrews with a realistic feel for the human cost of the British intervention in a chaotic civil war. [read full review]
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19 June 2013

Underground Structures of the Cold War: The World Below, Paul Ozorak. Looks at what underground structures were built, when and most importantly why, focusing on the main players in the Cold War but with brief chapters on a wide range of countries. The focus of most structures was on survivability during a nuclear war, so the book serves as a vivid reminder of the apocalyptic dangers of the Cold War. [read full review]
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Words of War - Speeches that Inspired Heroic Deeds, Anthony Weldon. A selection of extracts from speeches and other quotes about war, mainly from military or political leaders, but with a scattering of other figures and a section of fictional extracts. A wide ranging selection with a mix of long extracts and short quotes, giving a good idea of the nature of each of the chosen figures. [read full review]
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11 June 2013

Light Dragoons: The Making of a Regiment, Allan Mallinson. A history of the four cavalry regiments that were eventually merged to form the current Light Dragoons regiment, following the four regiments from their formation in the Eighteenth century through almost all of Britain's wars since then, with chapters added to this edition to fill the gap between 1993 and 2006. [read full review]
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US Eighth Air Force in Europe: Eager Eagles 1941-Summer 1943, Martin W. Bowman. A good oral history of the first two years of the Eighth Air Force, from the attack on Pearl Harbor and the formation of the Eighth to July 1943 and Blitz Week. This is the period of early escorted raids and the first raids into Germany, ending before the famous costly raids that proved the need for long range fighters. [read full review]
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10 June 2013

Images of War: The Russian Revolution, World War to Civil War 1917-1921, Nik Cornish. A good selection of photos covering all of the main factions during the Russian Revolution and the costly Civil War that followed, including some of pre-Revolutionary times and of the Germans who occupied parts of western Russia during 1918. All supported by useful captions and a good brief history of the period. [read full review]
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Rommel & Caporetto, John Wilks and Eileen Wilks. Two interesting books in one - first a general history of the battle of Caporetto, where the Germans and Austrians nearly broke the Italian army and second an examination of the young Rommel's role in the battle where he first made his name. [read full review]
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4 June 2013

Retreat and Rearguard 1914: The BEF's Actions from Mons to the Marne, Jerry Murland. A very detailed account of the days from the battle of Mons to the end of the retreat and the first steps towards victory on the Marne, a period dominated by a long retreat and a number of fierce rear-guard actions. Well supported by eyewitness accounts of the retreat, and with evidence from the British, French and German sides, this is a good addition to the literature on this well-studied period. [read full review]
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Tigers in Normandy, Wolfgang Schneider. A detailed history of the role of the Tiger Tank during the Battle of Normandy, tracing the fate of most individual tanks as well as the role they played in the overall battle. Supported by a huge number of photos, most of which are tied to the text and by some excellent maps. [read full review]
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29 May 2013

The Schweinfurt-Regensburg Mission, Martin Middlebrook. A very detailed account of the costly American daylight raids on Regensburg and Schweinfurt of 17 August 1943, a pair of maximum effort attacks that were meant to cripple parts of German industry but instead made it clear that even the heavily armed B-17 Flying Fortress couldn't operate without fighter escort. [read full review]
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Secrets of the Spitfire, Lance Cole. A biography of Beverley Shenstone, a Canadian aeronautical engineer who played the leading role in designing the modified elliptical wing of the Spitfire. Looks at his entire career, from early days in Canada and Germany, through his time in Germany and on to his post-war career in civil aviation, but with a clear focus on that distinctive wing, the science behind it, and the reasons it was so effective. [read full review]
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24 May 2013

Kharkov 1942 - The Wehrmacht strikes back, Robert Forczyk. Despite the subtitle this actually looks at two offensives in the Kharkov area in the spring of 1942 - an initially successful Soviet offensive that stretched the German lines and a pre-planned German blow that took advantage of the Soviet move to inflict a heavy defeat on Timoshenko's armies and weaken the Soviet southern armies in advance of the main German offensive of 1942. [read full review]
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Harry Smith's Last Throw: The Eighth Frontier War, 1850-53, Keith Smith. Based around a detailed history of the fighting in the Eighth Frontier War (on the frontier of the Cape Colony, South Africa), supported by a good background history of the cape and the previous frontier wars. Some chapters come from an earlier text by Neville Mapham, mainly focusing on detailed accounts of particular campaigns. [read full review]
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17 May 2013

Adventurous Empires - The Story of the Short Empire Flying Boats, Phillip E. Sims. A look at the history of the Short Empire Flying Boat, from the pioneering long-distance routes flow by Imperial Airways to their unglamorous but vital role as a long range passenger transport aircraft during the Second World War. An interesting account of the adventurous and rather more romantic early days of civil aviation, with a useful section of the wartime service of the Empire boats. [read full review]
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French Cruisers 1922-1956, John Jordan & Jean Moulin. Split into technical and historical sections, so looks at the design of the cruisers class by class before turning to their peacetime and wartime experiences. The text is supported by very high quality accurately labelled plans of the ships and a good selection of photos. These were interesting ships, with some unusual features and that often had a very dramatic time during the Second World War. [read full review]
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13 May 2013

Hornet's Sting, Derek Robinson. Second in the author's RFC Quartet, following a fictional RFC squadron during the harsh fighting of 1917. Characters come and go with brutal frequency, while on the ground the Third Battle of Ypres turns into the muddy fiasco of Passchendaele. The focus of the story is Hornet Squadron itself, and the desperate battles forced upon it by the RFC's policy of offensive flying. The result is a harsh but compelling look at life in the RFC during one of its hardest moments. [read full review]
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Salamanca 1812 - Wellington's Year of Victories, Peter Edwards. A look at Wellington's campaigns of 1812, from the sieges of Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz to the triumph at Salamanca, the failure at Burgos and the retreat back to Portugal at the end of a year that saw the French permanently forced out of large parts of Spain. A good account of this campaign, copiously illustrated with carefully used eyewitness accounts. [read full review]
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7 May 2013

War Story, Derek Robinson. First in the author's RFC Quartet. We accompany a brash but inexperienced new pilot as he joins a fictional RFC squadron where he quickly makes himself unpopular and finds his experiences of a combat to be very different from his expectations. Life expectancy for a pilot is short, and characters disappear quite suddenly. The way in which the survivors deal with this stress is the main thrust of the book, and the contrast between the vigorous parties and the vicious fighting is at the heart of this excellent novel. [read full review]
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Crisis in the Pacific - The Battles for the Philippine Islands by the Men Who Fought Them, Gerald Astor. An excellent account of the Second World War in the Philippines, from the pre-war American colony to the disasters of 1941-42, the long struggle of the resistance to MacArthur's eventual return and the costly battles that followed. The excellent text is based around first hand accounts of the fighting from the American point of view, both military and civilian. [read full review]
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3 May 2013

Images of War: Fighters under Construction in World War Two, Graham M. Simons. A super entry in the Images of War series showing most major British fighters at various stages of construction, allowing us to understand the underlying structures hidden beneath their skins. Also includes sections on propellers, the 20mm cannon, engines and the manufacturing process itself. A very useful book for anyone interested in Second World War aircraft. [read full review]
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The Battle East of Elsenborn and the Twin Villages, William C.C. Cavanagh. A very detailed examination of ten day's of fighting on the American left during the Battle of the Bulge, looking at the battles that saw outnumbered and under strength American units delay the main thrust of the German offensive for long enough to allow the Americans to form a new defensive line on the Elsenborn ridge and stop the main German thrust before it made any real progress. [read full review]
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23 April 2013

British Cruisers of the Victorian Era, Norman Friedman. Looks at the evolution of the British cruiser during a period of massive technological change. We start with ships that were effectively Napoleonic frigates but with auxiliary steam engines, and end with the fast turret armed turbine powered cruisers of the First World War (the last generation of ships before the battlecruisers). A splendid book that focuses on the design process as much as on the physical details of the ships, asking why a particular type of ship was built and looking at the many compromises that produced each design. [read full review]
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Images of War: Hitler's Boy Soldiers, The Hitlerjugend Story, Hans Seidler. A photographic history of the Hitlerjugend's role in the German war machine, from pre-war training to the raising and virtual destruction of the 12.SS Panzer Division 'Hitlerjugend', finishing with the German use of Hitlerjugend as child soldiers in the last battles of the war. A good collection of interesting pictures, although with some flaws in the captions. [read full review]
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25 March 2013

Pacific War Ghosts: Travels to the South Pacific Battlefields of World War II, Tony Maxwell. Combines a history of four key Pacific island battles and an account of visits to Papua Mew Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Bougainville, Ballale and Tarawa. Supported by a good mix of wartime and modern photos, the travelogues are interesting but a little too short, while the battle histories are clear and well written. [read full review]
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The Light Dragoons, A Regimental History, Eric Hunt. A history of the 13th, 15th, 18th and 19th Regiments of Light Dragoons and the modern Light Dragoons, the product of two sets of mergers between the earlier regiments. This history follows all four regiments from the early eighteenth century to the present day, tracing their involvement in the major and minor conflicts of the last three hundred years. [read full review]
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12 March 2013

Dictionary of British Naval Battles, John D. Grainger. A sizable reference work that covers at least 4,000 naval engagements involving British warships over the last 1,500 years, ranging from the countless battles between individual ships up to major clashes such at Jutland or Trafalgar. A very valuable reference work for anyone interested in individual naval battles, but that also gives a good feel of the overall nature of British naval power [read full review]
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Battleground General: Arnhem 1944, Jon Sutherland & Diane Canwell. The equivalent of the old Fighting Fantasy game books, but looking at the Battle of Arnhem rather than a fictional story. Playing as the British or German commander the reader makes a series of choices that influence the outcome of the battle, in what is probably best seen as the printed version of a war game [read full review]
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7 March 2013

Coastal Operations in the American Civil War, Kevin Dougherty. Looks at the Federal efforts to close the Confederate coast by capturing or blocking every port on the Southern coast, a campaign that was designed at the start of the war by the Navy Board and that lasted until almost the end of the conflict. An interesting study of combined arms operations and the problems that could be caused when two services cooperated on operations without any firm rules in place. [read full review]
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Arabian Days - The Memoirs of Two Trucial Oman Scouts, Antony Cawston and Michael Curtis. Two memoirs that look at life in the Trucial Oman Scouts (a precursor of the army of the UAE) in two periods during the 1960s. The authors came to the unit in very different ways, but both clearly enjoyed their time there, and they paint a very sympathetic picture of life in the Emirates at the very start of the oil boom. [read full review]
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25 February 2013

When Washington Burned: An Illustrated History of the War of 1812, Arnold Blumberg. A good attempt to make some sense of this rather disjoined conflict, well organised and gives some idea of how the many campaigns related to each other (when they did). The text is supported by a good selection of contemporary art works and some useful modern maps, and portrays both the American and British points of view. [read full review]
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1812 - The Great Retreat, Paul Britten Austin. The third part of a magnificent trilogy, this looks at the disastrous retreat from Moscow, where Napoleon's Grand Army melted away under attack from both the ever-present Cossacks and the bitter Russian winter. Based on eyewitness accounts of the disaster, this is a remarkable study of the horrors of war and the response of an army to a catastrophe. [read full review]
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20 February 2013

The Platoon: An Infantryman on the Western Front 1916-1918, Joseph Johns Steward. Takes an unpublished autobiographical novel of the Western Front and connects the story to historical events and the sources for family history. Probably of most value for the picture it paints of everyday life and death in the trenches, but with some useful historical notes. [read full review]
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Iraq Full Circle, Col Darron L. Wright. A compelling and thoughtful eyewitness account of the war in Iraq written by an American officer who took part in just about every phase of the war, from the original invasion through the rising insurgency to the Surge and the slow improvement in conditions that followed, right through to the very last combat patrol in Iraq. Gives an informed view on what the US did right and wrong during the war and how the US military learnt from its early experiences. [read full review]
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4 February 2013

Vercors 1944 Resistance in the French Alps, Peter Lieb. Looks at a disastrous attempt by the French Resistance to seize control of part of the French Alps in the period after the D-Day landings. The book examines how German paratroops and ground troops crushed the defenders of the Vercors after the Maquis launched an uprising without sufficient outside support, expected a less vigorous German response. [read full review]
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Aircraft of World War I - 1914-1918, Jack Herris and Bob Pearson. Takes an unusual approach for a book on aircraft, organising its subject chronologically and by topic, thus bringing together all of the aircraft involved in a particular battle or campaign, and tracing how they developed. As a result the air war is better tied to the battles on the ground than in books organised aircraft-by-aircraft. [read full review]
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Italian Navy and Air Force Elite Units & Special Forces 1940-45, P. Crociani & P.P. Battistelli. Looks at 10th MAS Flotilla, the best known and by far the most successful Italian special forces unit, as well as the San Marco naval infantry, Air Force paratroops and assault troops. Also looks at the period after the Italian armistice, where a reformed Xa MAS and the Fogore Parachute Regiment fought for Mussolini's fascist rump state. [read full review]
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31 January 2013

1812 - The March on Moscow, Paul Britten Austin. An account of Napoleon's invasion of Russia as seen by members of the French and Allied army. This first volume of three covers the advance on Moscow, including the battle of Borodino. A compelling vivid account of the first part of one of the most disastrous campaigns in history. [read full review]
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1812 - Napoleon in Moscow, Paul Britten Austin. The second in Britten Austin's excellent trilogy on Napoleon's invasion of Russia, based around eyewitness accounts of the time spent in Moscow, from the fire that destroyed large parts of the city to the eventual decision to leave the city. Covers life in the occupied Russian capital, the failure of attempts to get in touch with the Tsar and the clashes between Ney's advance guard and the Russians as well as the slow isolation of the French as their lines of communication west were put under increasing pressure. [read full review]
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Byzantine Imperial Guardsman 925-1025: The Tághmata and Imperial Guard, Raffaele d'Amato. Looks at the colourful and very varied units that formed the Byzantine Imperial Guard and the main field army during one of that Empire's most successful periods. Ranges from long established units inherited from the Roman Empire to newer units such as the Varangian Guard and even a powerful fleet based at Constantinople. [read full review]
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23 January 2013

The Siege of Kustrin 1945: Gateway to Berlin, Tony le Tissier. An account of the siege of Kustrin, a town on the Oder that was held against the Soviets for two months early in 1945. Told largely from the German point of view, and as a result gives an impression of what it was like to be trapped inside a besieged town. [read full review]
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Infantry Weapons of World War II, Jan Suermondt. A photographic reference work on the infantry weapons used by the main combatant nations during the Second World War, based around a remarkable collection of photos of the weapons held by the Cobbaton Combat Collection in Devon. Contains 500 high quality pictures of 150 weapons, supported by some useful text. [read full review]
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Medieval Warfare Vol II Issue 5: Turmoil in northern Italy: France and the Holy League at War. A look at the early sixteenth century wars that are often seen as marking the boundary between Medieval and Early Modern warfare, with some of the first successful uses of gunpowder weapons on the battlefield. Also looks at the Anglo-Saxon mead hall, the battle of Evesham and medieval sappers. [read full review]

8 January 2013

Casca 37: Roman Mercenary, Tony Roberts. Set just after the Gothic sack of Rome in 410, this entry in the series sees Casca attempt to come to terms with the collapse of his world while taking part in a rescue mission in barbarian occupied Gaul, and dealing with mixed party of mercenaries and a hidden betrayal. [read full review]
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Bf 109 G/K, Nico Brass & Srecko Bradic. A look at the last versions of the Bf 109, focusing on the numerically important G and the final version to be mass produced, the K, as well as other late versions and post-war derivatives produced outside Germany. Very well illustrated, including some plans from the Messerschmitt archives, and with some interesting material. [read full review]
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