Military History Encyclopedia on the Web

2015 onwards - 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

22 December 2014

Try Ancient Warfare magazine for 6 months. Click to subscribeAncient Warfare Volume VII Issue 5 . Trapped Behind Enemy Line - The March of the Ten Thousand . Focuses on the escape of a large force of Greek mercenaries who found themselves trapped in the middle of Persia after supporting the wrong side in a civil war. Famous as the topic of Xenophon's Anabasis, this is a fascinating campaign. [see more]

Try Ancient Warfare magazine for 6 months. Click to subscribeAncient Warfare Volume VII Issue 6. The Reluctant Warlord: The Wars of Marcus Aurelius. Looks at the career and writings of the famous philosopher emperor, who wrote books of consoling stoic philosophy while fighting a brutal war on the German borders (one of the few later Emperors to make an impact on the modern imagination, as seen in Gladiator). [see more]

Try Ancient Warfare magazine for 6 months. Click to subscribeAncient Warfare Volume VIII Issue 4. The Ancient World's Fragile Giant - The Seleucid Empire at war. Looks at the largest of the successor states to the Emperor of Alexander the Great, the impressive empire created by Seleucus and maintained against great pressure for two centuries before eventually falling to Roman pressure. [see more]

10 December 2014

The Luftwaffe: A History, John Killen. A good readable account of the rise and fall of the Luftwaffe that covers all of the main fronts on which it fought, and examines the reasons for the eventual failure as well as providing a readable narrative. Although it was originally published in 1967 the overall picture still holds up. [read full review]
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Blood Stained Fields - The Battlefields of East Lothian, Arran Paul Johnston. Looks at a thousand years of battles to be fought in East Lothian, from the clashes between Briton and Angle to the Jacobite revolts, covering the wars of Independence, the Tutor 'rough wooing' and the battles of the Civil War. Provides good accounts of the battles, supported by explanations of the wide wider campaigns, and with equal space given to Scottish defeats and victories. [read full review]
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Soviet Spyplanes of the Cold War, Yefim Gordon and Dmitriy Komissarov. . Looks at two Soviet spyplanes - the high flying Yak-25RV and the high speed reconnaissance versions of the MiG-25. Covers the development and service records of the real aircraft as well as reviews of the limited number of available models. [read full review]
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3 December 2014

Russian Gunship Helicopters, Yefim Gordon and Dmitriy Komissarov. Looks at the Mil Mi-24 (Hind), Mil Mi-28 and Kamov Ka-52, three Soviet and Russian helicopter gunships, with histories and descriptions of all three, supported by excellent photos and plans and model reviews. Interesting material on the development of each type, and model reviews that don't pull their punches. [read full review]
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The Birth of the Royal Air Force, Wing Commander Ian Philpott.. A useful reference work on British air power during the First World War, covering the RFC, RNAS and the formation of the RAF, with useful sections on organisation, aircraft, airfields, actual operations on the home front, the Western Front and further afield as well as the training and background structure of all three organisations [read full review]
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Roman Conquests: Egypt and Judaea, John D. Grainger. Looks at the last major Roman successes in the East, the conquests of Syria and Egypt, famous for the involvement of Caesar, Cleopatra and Mark Anthony and for the Jewish Revolt that led to the destruction of the Temple at Jerusalem. Demonstrates that these conquests were far more complex than their popular image, and helps explain why the Empire didn’t expand any further. [read full review]

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26 November 2014

Somme Intelligence - Fourth Army HQ 1916, William Langford. A fascinating collection of the intelligence material available to the British Fourth Army on the Somme, mainly captured German material, including letters to and from the front, extracts from diaries, orders and other material taken from German prisoners or found in the German trenches after successful attacks, all of which suggested that German morale was at a low ebb, and perhaps encouraging the Allied commanders in their belief that a major victory was possible. [read full review]
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Union Infantryman vs Confederate Infantryman: Eastern Theatre 1861-65, Ron Field. Describes three infantry clashes, taken from Bull Run in 1861, Gettysburg in 1863 and the siege lines outside Richmond and Petersburg in 1864. Provides three snapshots of infantry combat during the American Civil War rather than a more general analysis of the infantry war. [read full review]
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Accrington's Pals - The Full Story, Andrew Jackson. Looks at the two units raised by the Mayor of Accrington, the famous Accrington Pals infantry battalion and the less well known Howitzer artillery brigade. Between them they fought in most of the major battles of 1916-18, suffering heavy losses on the Somme, and again in 1917 and 1918. [read full review]
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20 November 2014

Behind the Lines - A Critical Survey of Special Operations in World War II, Michael F. Dilley. Uses a set of fixed criteria to examine the successes and failures of a wide range of Special Forces units during the Second World War, with a refreshing willingness to acknowledge successful attacks and well organised units as well as pick out flaws. [read full review]
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Captured Eagles - Secrets of the Luftwaffe, Frederick A. Johnsen. Looks at American efforts to understand the Luftwaffe, from wartime intelligence efforts, through the hunt for Luftwaffe assets in occupied Europe and the post-war use of German and Austrian scientists to advance American research projects. Makes some interesting points about the short-lived value of German wartime research, and the greater contribution made by the captured scientists. [read full review]
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Für Volk and Führer - The Memoir of a Veteran of the 1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler, Erwin Bartmann. Gives a good feel for the chaos of combat on the Eastern Front and in the last days of the Reich in 1945, as well as the seductive nature of the Nazi regime for someone growing up in the 1930s. Falls firmly into the 'Waffen SS' as a normal fighting force school of writing, hardly surprising from a veteran of the unit. [read full review]
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13 November 2014

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War I, general editor Chris Bishop. A useful collection of articles on the main weapons of the First World War, based on Orbis's War Machine of the 1980s. Still accurate despite its relative age, well illustrated and supported by some informative general articles, and provides a good overview of the military technology of the Great War. [read full review]
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Diving Stations - The Story of Captain George Hunt and The Ultor, Peter Dornan. Follows the wartime career of Captain George Hunt, commander of a U-class submarine in the Mediterranean theatre where he sank more enemy ships than any other British submarine. A fascinating insight into life on a small submarine, carrying only eight torpedoes and with a tiny crew, operating in difficult waters. [read full review]
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Baghdad Operators: Ex Special Forces in Iraq, James Glasse with Andrew Rawson. Looks at the experiences of a retired British Special Forces soldier who ended up founding a sizable security firm operating in Iraq in the years after the Second Gulf War. Takes the reader through the chaos of Iraq, where survival was often a matter of random chance, helped by the impressive skills acquired by Glasse and his colleagues. [read full review]
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10 November 2014

A Doctor on the Western Front - The Diaries of Henry Owens, 1914-1918, ed. John Hutton. Follows a doctor who reached the front during the period of mobile warfare in 1914 and was present at Ypres, the Somme and Passchendaele. Makes it clear just how dangerous the life of a doctor was on the Western Front, often serving under shell fire and sometimes right at the very front. [read full review]
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The Jeffersonian Vision, 1801-1815, William Nestor. Looks at the Presidential terms of Thomas Jefferson and his successor and political ally James Madison, a period best known for the Louisiana Purchase and the War of 1812. Focuses on the failure of Jefferson's political theories to adapt to the reality of American power, and Madison's drift to war in 1812. [read full review]
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Posters of the Great War, Frederick Hadley & Martin Peglar. A splendid volume filled with 200 full colour posters from every major combatant, covering a wide range of subjects from recruitment to the funding of the war, views of the enemy and of their own soldiers and the home front, all supported by explanatory captions and a good introduction text. [read full review]
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3 November 2014

The Scourge of the Swastika - A Short History of Nazi War Crimes, Lord Russell of Liverpool. Somewhat controversial when it was first published in the 1950s, this now serves as a very clear and accurate account of the German war crimes written by a legal expert who was involved in the war crime trials. A very good answer to anyone who tries to defend the crimes of the German war machine during the Second World War. [read full review]
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At War with the 16th Irish Division 1914-1918 - The Staniforth Letters, J.H.M. Staniforth. A fascinating collection of letters written by a Yorkshire-raised officer who served in Irish units during the First World War, entering the army as a private before quickly becoming an officer. Includes some very vivid descriptions of the battlefields of the war, in particular the Somme, with scales given using the northern fringes of the North York Moors. [read full review]
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The German Fallschirmtruppe 1936-41- Its Genesis and Employment in the First Campaigns of the Wehrmacht, Karl-Heinz Golla. A hugely detailed account of the combat deployment of the German paratroops from Poland to Crete, covering their successes and the flaws and failures of their campaigns. Suffers from a tendency to repeat some wartime German propaganda, but still a very useful research tool. [read full review]
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20 October 2014

German Light Cruisers of World War II, Gerhard Koop and Klaus-Peter Schmolke. A detailed history of the six light cruisers of the German Navy written by an author who actually served on one of them, this is an impressively unbiased examination of a fairly unimpressive set of warships that were never quite able to live up to the demands made of them. [read full review]
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German Destroyers of World War II, Gerhard Koop and Klaus-Peter Schmolke. A very useful history of the forty two destroyers that served with the German Navy during the Second World War, organised first by design feature, then by combat engagement and finally destroyer-by-destroyer to paint a complete picture of these hard working but temperamental warships. [read full review]
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The British Army in Italy, 1917-1918, John Wilks and Eileen Wilks. Looks at the activities of the British expeditionary force sent to Italy after the Battle of Caporetto, including their part in stopping the final Austrian offensive of the war and in the victorious battle of Vittorio Veneto, which came just before the armistices that ended the war. [read full review]
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6 October 2014

Don't Hurry me down to Hades: The Civil War in the words of those who lived it, Susannah J. Ural. A history of the American Civil War supported by a heavy use of contemporary sources and in particular letters, speeches and diaries - materials that were either intended for immediate reading or were private - rather than post-war memoirs, often distorted by the aims of their authors. The result is an immediacy and a freshness that takes us back to those dark years and helps us see the wider impact of the war. [read full review]
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From the Imjin to the Hook, James Jacobs. Interesting autobiography of a national serviceman who serving with the artillery in Korea before volunteering for a second spell of service late in the same war. A very readable account of life in the British Army in Korea, seen from a slightly unusual angle - I've not read an account from the artillery before. [read full review]
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The Dam Buster Raid - A reappraisal 70 years on, Alan W. Cooper. More of a re-telling than a reappraisal, the accounts of the raid and its aftermath is good, but the build-up to the attack is less well handled. Most valuable when it looks at the post-raid and post-war lives of the participants - an area that I haven’t seen covered in such detail before. [read full review]
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24 September 2014

Medieval Warfare Vol IV Issue 3: The First War of Independence - Scotland's Struggle for survival. Focuses on the First Scottish War of Independence, a very live topic in the year of the 700th anniversary of the crucial Scottish victory at Bannockburn. Covers a good range of topics and avoids the nationalist pitfalls of the topic. [read full review]
Medieval Warfare Vol III, Issue 5 - King Alfred the Great and the Great Heathen Army. Main focus is on the career of Alfred the Great, his battlefield victories, military reforms and the strategies of his enemies. Also looks at the birth of the noble infantry, the halberd and the concluding part of the 14th century invasion of the kingdom of Naples. [read full review]
Alba - General and Servant to the Crown, ed. Maurits Ebben, Margriet Lacy-Bruijn and Rolof van Hövell tot Westerflier. FAn excellent multi-national and multi-author study of Fernando Alvarez de Toledo, duke of Alba, one of the most important Spanish leaders of the sixteenth century, and famous for his failure to put down the early stages of the Dutch Revolt. [read full review]

17 September 2014

Slaughter on the Somme 1 July 1916 - The Complete War Diaries of the British Army's Worst Day, Martin Mace and John Grehan. An invaluable reference work for anyone interested in the First Day of the Somme, the most costly single day in the history of the British army, bringing together the war diaries entries for 1 July 1916 for every British battalion that took part in the battle and the diversionary attack Gommecourt. [read full review]
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The Last Ditch - Britain's Secret Resistance and the Nazi Invasion Plans, David Lampe. Looks at the German plans for occupied Britain and the British plans for a stay-behind resistance movement, mainly aimed at disrupting the Germans during an active battle for the country. Originally published in 1968, contains much information I've recently seen described as 'new'! [read full review]
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The Emergence of British Power in India 1600-1784 - A Grand Strategic Interpretation, G.J. Bryant. Focuses on the last forty years in which the British East India Company controlled its own diplomatic activity in India - the period in which the company's holdings expanded from a series of small trading enclaves into a sizable land empire. A splendid history of this pivotal period for the British in India, combining a good account of events with a detailed study of the motives that drove the Company and its servants. [read full review]
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10 September 2014

Legacy of the Lancaster, Martin W Bowman. A collection of eighteen first hand accounts and other articles looking at the experiences of Lancaster crewmen (and a handful of their German opponents). This isn't an attempt at another history of the Lancaster, but instead is a series of snapshots of the experiences of the men who flew this iconic aircraft. [read full review]
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Year of Glory - The Life and Battles of Jeb Stuart and his Cavalry, June 1862-June 1863, Monte Akers. Looks at the year in which Stuart twice rode around McClellan, commanded in  major battles, and took command of 'Stonewall' Jackson's corps after he was mortally wounded. Gives a good feel for the glittering façade of the Confederacy and the slow darkening of the mood as battle casualties began to pull apart Stuart's band of brothers. [read full review]
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Early Aegean Warrior 5000-1450 BC, Raffaele d'Amato and Andrea Salimbeti. Looks at the weapons, armour, tactics and possible warfare in the Cycladic culture of 3,200-1,100 BC, early Cyprus and Minoan Crete. Packs a great deal of information into 64 pages to produce a very impressive overview of this early period of Greek history [read full review]
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29 August 2014

The Nek - A Gallipoli Tragedy, Peter Burness. Looks at one of the most costly disasters of the Gallipoli campaign in which four waves of dismounted light Australian cavalrymen charged towards Turkish machine guns on a narrow front and suffered appalling casualties. This study looks at the attack itself, the background to the units and their commanders, with a focus on why the later waves of attackers were allowed to make futile and costly assaults. [read full review]
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Dogfight - The Battle of Britain, Adam Claasen. Focuses on the contribution of New Zealanders and Australians during the Battle of Britain, looking at the exploits of many of the 171 Anzacs who fought with Fighter Command during the battle. Built around accounts of the individual pilot's activities supported by a wider historical framework, this provides an interesting cross-section of Fighter Command's activities. [read full review]
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British Battleships 1889-1904 New Revised Edition, R A Burt. Magnificent study of the Royal Navy's pre-dreadnought battleships, amongst the most powerful ships in the world when built, but seen as obsolete by the outbreak of war in 1914. Traces the development of the 'classic' pre-dreadnought design and the slow increase in the power of the secondary armament, leading up to the all-big gun ships that followed. [read full review]
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13 August 2014

The Battle of Barrosa 1811, John Grehan & Martin Mace. Looks at the 1811 battle of Barrosa along with the entire siege of Cadiz and the British contribution to the war in southern Spain, an important campaign that kept Soult and a large army away from Wellington and preserved the independent Spanish government at Cadiz, a key element in keeping Spanish resistance going. [read full review]
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Images of War Korea The Ground War From Both Sides, Philip Chinnery. Wide ranging photographic history of the Korean War, with an emphasis on the mobile warfare of the first year of the conflict (as a result we see many unfamiliar topics) and pictures from both sides of the war (mainly UN and Chinese, but with few from North Korean sources). [read full review]
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Special Forces Commander, Michael Scott. Looks at the military career of Peter Wand-Tetley, who served as a Commando, in the SAS, with SOE in Greece, in post-war Indonesia and with the Colonial Service in the last years of the British Empire in Africa, combined with the story of each of his organisations and the campaigns they took part in. The result is an excellent picture of the work of British Special Forces in the Mediterranean theatre as well as Wand-Tetley's contribution. [read full review]
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6 August 2014

Try Ancient Warfare magazine for 6 months. Click to subscribeAncient Warfare Volume VII Issue 4 . Movement and supply: Logistics and the army train. Looks at how the realities of supplying an army impacted on warfare in the Ancient World, covering a wide range of topics from Assyria and Babylon to the mobile late Roman army. Also looks at the warrior in Greek lyric poetry and the nature of Mithraism.. [see more]
Try Ancient Warfare magazine for 6 months. Click to subscribeAncient Warfare Volume VIII Issue 2 . War, Trade and Adventure: Struggles of the Ionian Greeks. Focuses on the Ionian Greeks and in particular the cities of western Anatolia, looking at their struggles for independence against Lydia and Persia, their place in the wider Greek world, and their earlier fame as mercenaries. Also looks at some of Alexander's decisions, the 'right-bearing' legionaries and the evidence for a Roman invasion of Ireland.. [see more]
Ancient Warfare Volume VIII Issue 3. Swift as the Wind Across the Plains: Horsemen of the steppes. Mainly focusing on the Scythians, the nomadic horsemen found to the north of the Greek and Persian worlds. A valuable look at a culture that is often only seen as the enemy from beyond the edge of civilisation, but that was much more complex.. [see more] Try Ancient Warfare magazine for 6 months. Click to subscribe

30 July 2014

They Have Their Exits, Airey Neave. One of the great escape stories of the Second World War. Airey Neave was captured in 1940 and made a series of attempts to escape, before finally managing to walk out of Colditz dressed as a German officer. An excellent account of Neave's own escape efforts, tied in to his time with the Nuremburg War Crimes Tribunal. [read full review]
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Battlefield French Coast - Bruneval, Paul Oldfield. A splendid account of one of the most successful small-scale raids of the Second World War, carried out to capture the key components from the most modern German radar system. Combines a detailed examination of the raid with a wider history of Radar development in Britain and Germany and the significance of the Würzburg radar system that was its target. [read full review]
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Wellington's Guns: The Untold Story of Wellington and his artillery in the Peninsula and at Waterloo, Nick Lipscombe. Looks at one of the few neglected areas in the story of Wellington and his campaigns - the role of the artillery, its organisation, achievements, command structure and the difficult relationship with Wellington, a man who was generally admitted and respected rather than loved. An excellent detailed study that neatly fills this gap. [read full review]
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25 July 2014

Helmand - Diaries of Front-Line Soldiers, Various Authors. Focuses on the diaries of John and Ian Thornton, brothers who served in Afghanistan in 2008 and 2011-12 respectively. John was killed close to the end of his tour of duty, and profits from the book go to the John Thornton Young Achievers Foundation, a charity founded to honour his memory. The two Thornton diaries are supported by two other diaries and two personal reminiscence to produce a vivid picture of the life of a frontline solder in Afghanistan. [read full review]
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The Hundred Years War - An Alternative History of Britain, Timothy Venning. Interesting if rather scattergun look at possible alternative courses of English history during the period of the Hundred Years War, mainly focusing on that war, but also with some attention paid to domestic politics, especially during the weak reign of Richard II and the troubled reign of Henry IV. [read full review]
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Kill Hitler - Operation Valkyrie 1944, Neil Short. An interesting approach to the 1944 attempt to kill Hitler, looking at the entire coup attempt, from the initial planning, through the assassination attempt and on to the bodged coup in Berlin. Benefits greatly from the decision to focus more on the coup than the bombing, which means it covers some less familiar ground. [read full review]
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8 July 2014

Spying for the Führer: Hitler's Espionage Machine, Christer Jörgensen. Looks at the full range of German intelligence agencies of the Second World War, their successes and failures and the vicious infighting that helped reduce their efficiency around the world. Includes the familiar stories of Allied double agents and successes, but also the less well known German successes, especially early in the war and around the world. [read full review]
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Rolling Thunder in a Gentle Land, ed. Andrew Wiest. Excellent study of the Vietnam War looking at a far wider range of topics than in most books on this war, and with contributions from American, North Vietnamese and South Vietnamese authors and participants in the war. An impressive piece of work that gives a good overview of the Vietnam War and the wider issues that surrounded the conflict. [read full review]
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The First World War: The War to End all Wars, Peter Simkins, Geoffrey Jukes and Michael Hickey. Excellent single-volume history of the First World War, focusing on the land battles on the Western, Eastern and Italian fronts and the war against the Ottoman Empire. Gives a good impression of the way in which both offensive and defensive tactics developed during the war and the slow formation of a war-winning Allied strategy. [read full review]
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30 June 2014

Ancient Warfare Vol VIII, Issue I: Deserters, Defectors, Traitors: Betrayal in the ancient worldAncient Warfare Vol VIII, Issue I: Deserters, Defectors, Traitors: Betrayal in the ancient world. Looks at a range of famous traitors in the Ancient World, stretching from the Biblical David up to Cataline's Revolt during the late Roman Republic, and a variety of types of betrayal, from internal revolt to siding with external enemies.. [see more]

The Real Hornblower: The Life and Times of Admiral Sir James Gordon GCB, Bryan Perrett. Looks at the life and career of a possible inspiration for the career of Horatio Hornblower. Gordon is an interesting figure in his own right, fighting at Cape St. Vincent, under Nelson at the Nile, in the Adriatic, and taking part in the attacks on Washington and Baltimore in 1814 (helping to inspire the American National Anthem). This is a fascinating biography of a less well known British naval leader, and will also be of value to fans of Hornblower. [read full review]
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Henchmen of Ares: Warriors and Warfare in Early Greece, Josho Brouwers. Looks at warfare during the Mycenaean period, the Greek Dark Ages, the rise of the Hoplite and the Persian Wars. Supported by good full colour photos and illustrations, this is an interesting look at a less well known period of Ancient Greek history. [read full review]
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25 June 2014

Searching for George Meade - The Forgotten Victor of Gettysburg, Tom Huntington. An interesting two-pronged book, combining a biography of General Meade with an attempt to discover how he is remembered on the battlefields of the Civil War. Meade emerges as a capable, ambitious man with something of a temper, who deserves to be better known than he is, but who does make a reasonable appearance on many Civil War memorials. [read full review]
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Defending Heaven - China's Mongol Wars 1209-1370, James Waterson. Focuses on the Song Dynasty's long battles with northern nomads, their final destruction by the Mongols after a fierce struggle, the short-lived Mongol Yuan dynasty and its overthrow by the rebels who eventually formed the Ming Dynasty. This is a splendid account of a complex but critical period of Chinese history. [read full review]
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The Defence of the Dardanelles - From Bombards to Battleships, Michael Forrest. An excellent history of the British and French naval attempts to defeat the defences of the Dardanelles and reach Constantinople, supported by a wider look at the fortifications, earlier attempts to breach the defences, the role of the navy during the Gallipoli campaign and the post-war occupation of the Dardanelles [read full review]
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18 June 2014

Tiger Command, Bob Carruthers and Sinclair McLay. Translation of a novel originally written by an anonymous German author who almost certainly served in Tiger tanks during the Second World War. Fluently translated, this gives an insight into the attitude of probably quite senior German tank commander, as well as a interesting view of tank operations written by an expert. [read full review]
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With Musket & Tomahawk Vol II: The Mohawk Valley Campaign in the Wilderness War of 1777, Michael O. Logusz. Looks at the second prong of the British invasion from Canada of 1777, the campaign in the Mohawk valley that ended in defeat at Fort Stanwix, thus removing one of Burgoyne's hopes of help when he got bogged down at Saratoga. Excellent use of eyewitness accounts of the campaign make this an atmospheric read. [Read Full Review ]
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Why Germany Nearly Won, Steven D. Mercatante. Makes a convincing argument that quality was more important than quantity when deciding the outcome of the Second World War, from the initial German successes in the West and against the USSR to the final Allied victory. Looks at the quality of the equipment used on both sides, the training and experience of the armies and the quality of the higher commands and their battle plans and argues that these factors were more important than brute force in deciding the course of the war. A fascinating, well made argument. [Read Full Review ]
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11 June 2014

The Scapegoat: The life and tragedy of a fighting admiral and Churchill's role in his death, Steve R. Dunn. Fascinating biography of Admiral Kit Cradock, the defeated commander at the battle of Coronel in 1914. Also serves as a history of the late Victorian and Edwardian Navy, looking at its strengths and flaws in the period leading up to the First World War, the Royal Navy's first serious trial since the Napoleonic Wars. [read full review]
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Shanghai 1937 - Stalingrad on the Yangtze, Peter Harmsen. Looks at one of the first major urban battles of the Twentieth Century, a Chinese attempt to expel the Japanese from Shanghai and distract them from the fighting in northern China that expanding into a major battle and led to some of the first major atrocities of the conflict between Japan and China. [read full review]
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Traditional Enemies - Britain's War with Vichy France 1940-1942, John D Grainger. Looks at the series of battles between Vichy France and Britain between the fall of France in 1940 and Operation Torch at the end of 1942. Politically well balanced, acknowledging the genuine motives behind each British attack and the difficult balancing act the Vichy government was attempting but failing to pull off, and with good accounts of the military actions. [read full review]
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6 June 2014

Talavera 1809, René Chartrand. A good shorter history of one of Wellington's first victories in Spain, the defeat of King Joseph and Marshalls Victor and Jourdan at Talavera. Good on the problems within the French command, the difficult relationship between Wellington and his Spanish allies, and more generous to the Spanish than many English-language accounts of the battle. [read full review]
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US Heavy Cruisers 1941-45: Pre War Classes, Mark Stille. Looks at the 'treaty cruisers' built in the US between the wars, limited by treaty to 10,000 tons and 8in guns. Five classes of treaty cruisers were produced and they played a major role in the fighting during the Second World War, despite the limits imposed on them by the treaty restrictions. [read full review]
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Medium Mark A Whippet, David Fletcher. Looks at the series of medium tanks developed during the First World War, from the Mark A Whippet which actually saw combat to the Mark D, an amphibious tank that never progressed beyond the prototype stage. Includes an excellent selection of contemporary photographs including some rare shots of the early prototypes and later variants [read full review]
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19 May 2014

Trench, Stephen Bull. Looks at the evolution of the defensive lines on the Western Front of the First World War, from the thin lines of 1914 to the elaborate defensive networks of the late war period and the weapons used to try and break the deadlock. Supported by some fascinating wartime illustrations from military manuals, along with contemporary trench maps. [read full review]
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15 May 2014

Deliver us from Darkness - The Untold Story of Third Battalion 506 Parachute Infantry Regiment during Market Garden, Ian Gardner. Follows one battalion from the 101st Airborne as it takes part in the liberation of Eindhoven, defends the road to Arnhem and fights on the 'Island' - the area between the Rijn and the Waal. Also looks at the Dutch experience of occupation and resistance and the part they played in the successes of the 506th. [read full review]
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Of Those We Loved, I L 'Dick' Read. One of the best Great War memoirs I have ever read, following the author from his arrival on the Western Front late in 1915, through the battle of the Somme, periods spent in Flanders, promotion to officer, to Egypt and back and during the final victorious battles of 1918. Equally good on periods in the front line, behind the line, quiet time and the major battles, this is an outstanding memoir. [read full review]
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I Was Hitler's Pilot, Lieutenant-General Hans Baur. As Hitler's pilot Baur was part of his inner circle, close to him from the early election campaigns where he first won Hitler's trust, to the last days in the bunker in Berlin. His memoirs provide a rare 'behind the scenes' view of Hitler's regime written by someone who was close to him for over a decade and survived the last days of the war in Berlin. Baur provides a useful view of Hitler the skilful boss, able to win the long term devotion of so many. [read full review]
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5 May 2014

The White Rose of Stalingrad, Bill Yenne. Fascinating biography of Lidiya Vladimirovona Litvyak, the highest scoring female fighter ace of all time, looking at her life and aviation career, the wider history of female aviation in the Soviet Union and the impact on her of the turbulent history of the Soviet Union (her father was killed in Stalin's purges). [read full review]
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Vietnam - A View from the Front Lines, Andrew Wiest. An impressive collection of first hand accounts that trace the American soldier's journey during the Vietnam War, from their pre-war lives, through entering the army (or Marines), training, first experiences of Vietnam, the experience of battle, injury or loss, the return home, either at the end of a tour of duty or after being wounded, and life after Vietnam. [read full review]
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Naval Firepower - Battleship Guns and Gunnery in the Dreadnaught Era, Norman Friedman. A detailed history of the evolution of fire control methods during the period of the big-gun battleship, focusing on a key area of technology without which the expensive big guns would have been of little value. The topic is complex but Friedman does a good job of explaining the key concepts and the technology that was developed in an attempt to allow the guns on a warship that was probably moving at high speed to hit a second distant warship. [read full review]
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29 April 2014

British Aircraft Carriers - Design, Development and Service Histories, David Hobbs. The definitive history of the British aircraft carrier, written by a former RN officer who served on carriers and was deeply involved in the work of the Invincible class carriers. As a result the author has a much more in-depth knowledge of the technical background to carrier design that most, and we get a much better understanding of the thinking behind each new type of carrier, their abilities and limitations and how that affected their service careers. [read full review]
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Unicorns - The History of the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry 1794-1899, Jonathan Hunt. An unusual regimental history that examines the early history of the Sherwood Rangers, when they were a volunteer Yeomanry regiment that was only liable for service within the UK, and that hardly ever left Nottinghamshire. Instead it was used as an early police force, countering the Luddites, Chartists, supporters of reform and other rioters, as well as acting as a hub of social life. This is an useful examination of the early existence of a regiment that went on to serve in the wars of the twentieth century. [read full review]
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Tiger, Thomas Anderson. A very useful book on the Tiger tank, using contemporary battle reports and other German documents to examine its service record, looking at issues including its reliability, performance in combat, the structure of the units that used the tank and the tactics used with it. The result is a very valuable study of the effectiveness of the Tiger, based on original combat reports and thus reflecting both its virtues and its flaws. [read full review]
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23 April 2014

Between Giants - The Battle for the Baltics in World War II, Prit Buttar. An excellent look at the impact of the Second World War on the Baltic States, looking at their pre-war histories, the quick German victories of 1941, the Baltic holocaust and the return of the Red Army in 1944-45. Excellent coverage of the holocaust and the more uncomfortable aspects of the period as well as good readable accounts of the military campaigns. [read full review]
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USAF and VNAF A-1 Skyraider Units of the Vietnam War, Byron E Hukee. Looks at the almost fifteen year long career of the A-1 Skyraider in the skies over Vietnam, where it served as a ground attack aircraft as well as supporting search and rescue aircraft. Written by a former USAF pilot who actually flew the Skyraider in Vietnam, and includes a large number of eyewitness accounts by his fellow pilots, both American and Vietnamese. [read full review]
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Disaster at Stalingrad - An Alternate History, Peter Tsouras. A thoroughly entertaining novel of alternative history imagining a very different version of 1942 that ends with a crushing German victory at Stalingrad at the end of a year in which a whole series of decisions and events across the world work out differently to reality. Flawed as a work of counter-factual history by the sheer amount of changes to events, but a very entertaining novel of alternative history. [read full review]
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16 April 2014

Walking D-Day, Paul Reed. A selection of twelve walks that cover all of the main battlefields of D-Day, including the five invasion beaches, the commando and ranger operations and the airborne operations. Splits each section into a historical introduction followed by the walk itself. A successful format and a book that should act as a good guide to the area around the Normandy beaches. [read full review]
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Catalina over Arctic Oceans - Anti-Submarine and Rescue Flying in World War II, John French. The autobiography of an RAF pilot who flew seaplanes over the northern oceans from bases in Shetland, watching the Tirpitz and searching for U-boats, as part of a longer RAF career that saw him serve behind the Iron Curtain in the early years of the Cold War. [read full review]
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The Anglo Saxon Age - An Alternative History of Britain, Timothy Venning. Contains a huge number of possible alternative histories, covering the period from the early Anglo-Saxon settlement or conquest period to the dramatic events of 1066, with each chapter starting from a genuine historical point in time and working forward. A fun read and a valuable reminder of how little we really know about the early stages of the Anglo-Saxon period and how big a part chance played in the events of the period. [read full review]
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9 April 2014

Handbook of Roman Legionary Fortresses, M.C. Bishop. An impressive gazetteer of the permanent Legionary Fortress of the Roman Empire, with details of location, layout, plans and a list of documentary sources for each of the locations. Also includes a useful introduction that examines the nature of the fortresses and the evidence for their use and design. [read full review]
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Ulysses S. Grant, Mark Lardas. A good short biography of Grant, with a clear understanding of his role as General in charge of the US Army and the wide ranging responsibilities that came with it, as well as a good run through his earlier career, victories in the west and around Chattanooga, and his pre- and post- war failings. [read full review]
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Avenging Angel: John Brown's Raid on Harper's Ferry, 1895, Ron Field. Looks at John Brown's failed raid on the US Armoury at Harper's Ferry, in which an attempt to steal weapons and start a widespread slave uprising collapsed into a short-lived and rather one sided siege. Despite the small scale of this raid, it had massive political implications and played a part in the slide into Civil War. [read full review]
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1 April 2014

Orde Wingate, Jon Diamond. A biography of Wingate that really does focus on his life and avoids the temptation to become a history of the Chindits. Covers his early career in Palestine and Ethiopian in just as much detail as the time in Burma. Provides a good brief biography of this controversial figure, who still divides opinion seventy years after his death. [read full review]
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Samurai Revolution: The Dawn of Modern Japan seen Through the Eyes of the Shogun's Last Samurai, Romulus Hillsborough. This is a fascinating account of the period from the forced opening of Japan to the outside world in 1853, through the fall of the Tokugawa Shogunate and on to the failure of the Satsuma rebellion against the restored Imperial Government and the end of the world of the Samurai. [read full review]
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Into Battle with Napoleon 1812 - The Journal of Jakob Walter, ed. Bob Carruthers. The memoirs of a German soldier who fought in Napoleon's army during the campaigns of 1806-7, 1809 and 1812, taking part in the invasion of Russia, fighting at Borodino and suffering during the retreat from Moscow. Simply written, this gives us a view of the supporting armies in the earlier campaigns as well as the appalling suffering during the retreat from Moscow. [read full review]
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17 March 2014

Images of War: The Soviet-Afghan War, Anthony Tucker-Jones. A photographic history of the disastrous Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, a conflict that lasted for most of the 1980s and drained the Soviet economy and military as well as leaving Afghanistan devastated and vulnerable to the Taliban takeover after a prolonged civil war. [read full review]
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Heroes and Landmarks of British Aviation, Richard Edwards and Peter J Edwards. Looks at the careers and long term impact of the life of a series of crucial pioneers of British aviation, from the birth of powered flight to the Jet age. Combines biographies of the key figures with a history of the companies they founded and key milestones they helped achieve. [read full review]
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If Rome Hadn't Fallen, Timothy Venning. Counter-factual history that looks at how the fall of the Western Roman Empire might have been avoided and what the long term consequences of that might have been. Combines some interesting credible thoughts with wilder speculation including Roman colonies in the Americans. A fun read for those who enjoy counter-factual history [read full review]
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4 March 2014

Leyte 1944 - The Soldiers' Battle, Nathan N. Prefer. A very detailed account of the land battle on Leyte, where the Japanese decided to make their main defensive stand in the Philippines and where the American victory ensured that the Japanese would be unable to hold on to the rest of the Philippines. This will stand as the definitive account of this little known but crucial battle in the Pacific War. [read full review]
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Long Journey with Mr Jefferson - The Life of Dumas Malone, William G. Hyland Jr. A biography of a biographer who wrote a magisterial six volume biography of Thomas Jefferson, finishing the last volume late in life when almost totally blind. This is an interesting biography of an impressive figure, although perhaps of interest to a rather limited audience - other historians or those with an interest in Jefferson. [read full review]
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The Battle of Hastings 1066 - The Uncomfortable Truth, John Grehan and Martin Mace. A well argued book that suggests an alternative location for the Battle of Hastings, about a mile north of the generally accepted location. Includes a detailed examination of the early sources, the alternative battlefields and the historical discussion of the battle. [read full review]
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25 February 2014

The Battle for Syria 1918-1920, John D. Grainger. Mainly focuses on the First World War battles between the British and the Ottoman Empire for control of Syria, with an interesting section on the post-war struggle for control of the country. Covers the campaign in Palestine, the Arab revolt and the Ottoman side of the fighting. [read full review]
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The Devil's Birthday: The Bridges to Arnhem, 1944, Geoffrey Powell. Fascinating account of the entire Market-Garden campaign, paying deserved attention to the American and Polish airborne units as well as the main land campaign, where the real problems with the campaign were to be found as a full corps attempted to push up a single road against stiffening German resistance. [read full review]
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Armoured Warfare in the Korean War, Anthony Tucker-Jones. Focuses mainly on the ex-Soviet, American and British tanks that fought in Korea, supported by useful captions, a good brief history of the war explaining how the role of armour changed, with a selection of pictures that include good coverage of the tanks involved in the war, plus some that provide a more rounded view of the war. [read full review]
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12 February 2014

Reign of Terror - The Budapest Memoirs of Valdemar Langlet, 1944-1945, Valdemar Langlet. The memoirs of the leader of the Swedish Red Cross in Hungary, recounting his efforts to save as many people as possible during the chaotic rule of the last pro-German governments, including the vicious 'Arrow Cross' regime. His 'Letters of Protection' saved thousands of lives during this period, and his memoirs discuss how this came about, his other work, and describes life in Hungary under the last pro-German governments and during the start of the Soviet occupation. [read full review]
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Images of War: Rommel's Army in the Desert, Alistair Smith. A selection of photographs from three anonymous photo albums taken by members of Rommel's army in North Africa, mainly looking at life on the road in North Africa, but with some unusual photos that show a different side of life in the German army in the desert. [read full review]
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Fighting with the Desert Rats, Major H.P. Samwell MC. The memoirs of an infantry officer in the Desert Rats, written during the war and left unmodified after the author's death in combat in 1945. Gives a good idea of the chaos at the front and the very different atmosphere behind the lines. Also stands out for the author's interest in the views of other nationalities, and his interviews with representatives of the many different communities of North Africa. [read full review]
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7 February 2014

The Book of the Order of Chivalry, Ramon Llull, trans. Noel Fallows. A translation of a popular thirteenth century guide to chivalry, intended to be read by squires on their way to knighthood to explain their duties and establish a single united Order of Chivalry. A fascinating guide to the late Medieval view of knighthood, as represented by one of the most popular contemporary guides to chivalry. [read full review]
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Concrete Hell - Urban Warfare from Stalingrad to Iraq, Louis A. DiMarco. Looks at nine very varied examples of urban warfare from the largely conventional fighting in Stalingrad in 1942 to the political manoeuvring required in more modern conflicts such as the battle for Ramadi in 2006-7. Looks at both the 'what' and the 'how' of urban warfare in an attempt to examine how the urban battle can be won in future. [read full review]
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1914-1918 An Eyewitness to War, ed. Bob Carruthers, Four very varied eyewitness accounts of the First World War, including a look at the front by the Director of French Propaganda, a memoir of four weeks spent in the Austrian Army at the start of the war, an American journalist's visit to Verdun and the memoirs of an Official War Artist. These are all fascinating, and provide a very different view of the war to the normal soldier's memoirs. [read full review]
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28 January 2014

Dead Man's Hill, George Peter Algar. Sequel to the Shepherd Lord, this novel follows the life of Lord Henry Clifford during the reign of the first two Tudor monarchs, building up to the crushing defeat of a Scottish army at Flodden in 1513. The episodic story is told against the background of the constant state of tension on the Scottish border, and life on the borders is the main theme of this entertaining novel. [read full review]
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America's Elite - US Special Forces from the American Revolution to the Present Day, Chris McNab. Takes segments from a number of earlier Osprey titles to produce a history of US Special Forces from the pre-revolutionary Rangers to the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, with material on the Civil War, the Second World War, Vietnam and the post 9-11 wars. [read full review]
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Battle on the Aisne 1914: The BEF and the Birth of the Western Front, Jerry Murland. A history of the British Army's involvement in the Battle of the Aisne, the moment when the war of movement ended and the stalemate of the trenches began, effectively beginning the Western Front as we understand it. Supported by copious eyewitness accounts, this is an excellent study of this often neglected battle. [read full review]
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24 January 2014

The Last Ride of the James-Younger Gang - Jesse James and the Northfield Raid 1876, Sean McLachlan. Looks at the botched bank robbery that ended the violent career of the James-Younger Gang and saw most of the gang captured or killed, either during the crime or during the pursuit that followed. [read full review]
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The Transformation of British Naval Strategy, James Davey. A serious academic study of the major British fleet that operated in the Baltic from 1808-1812 protecting a vital British trade route, the complex supply system that allowed it to stay on station for so long and the impact such a sizable effort had on the organisation of the British state. A valuable contribution to our understanding of the roots of Britain's naval dominance during the Napoleonic period. [read full review]
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Rommel's Desert Warriors 1941-42, Michael Olive & Robert Edwards. An excellent collection of wartime photos covering a wide range of topics in the period between Rommel's arrival in the desert and the retreat from El Alamein. Organised by topic rather than chronologically, this book provides a wide-ranging picture of Rommel's army during the two years that really made his name. [read full review]
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8 January 2014

Glider Pilots in Sicily, Mike Peters. Looks at the first major British airborne operations, during the invasion of Sicily, and the role played by the glider pilots who flew their flimsy aircraft into battle and then fought as infantry. Traces the development of the Glider Pilot Regiment, their training as 'total soldiers', the disastrous early operations and the impressive way in which the glider-borne troops recovered from their chaotic journey to Sicily to carry out their missions. [read full review]
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Dönitz, U-boats, Convoys, Jak. P. Mallmann Showell. - The British Version of his memoirs from the Admiralty's Secret Anti-Submarine Reports. Takes the monthly British reports on the U-boat war and compares them to Dönitz's memoirs to give an idea of how both sides saw the progress of the battle of the Atlantic and how that related to actual events on the oceans. [read full review]
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3 January 2014

The Portuguese in the Age of Discovery, c.1340-1665, David Nicolle. Looks at the military organisations that allowed the Portuguese to create and then hold onto a world-wide empire despite a forced merger with Spain and a length war with the Dutch. An interesting examination of what became one of the most integrated and multi-racial armies of its time, and a key element in the long-term success of Portugal [read full review]
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Japanese Military Aircraft - Special Units of the Japanese Army, Eduardo Cea. Looks at the smaller air units of the Imperial Japanese Army which performed a wide variety of functions from basic training to active fighter defence and army co-operation duties. Each unit gets a brief history, supported by colour side-plans showing paint schemes and identification marks. [read full review]
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