Military History Encyclopedia on the Web

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

20 December 2020

Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia – Brother and Sister of History’s most vilified family, Samantha Morris. A fairly convincing attempt to restore the reputation of the most famous and most notorious of the Borgias, the brother and sister Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia. Does a good job of redeeming Lucrezia’s reputation, although Cesare still emerges as unusually bloodthirsty and treacherous even for the period, so much so that he attracted the special interest of Machiavelli (although most of the more scandalous stories are easily disproved)! Overall this is an entertaining account of the lives of one of the most infamous families of European history(Read Full Review)
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The First & Second Italian Wars 1494-1504, Julian Romane. A detailed history of the first two Italian Wars, both triggered by unsuccessful French attempts to conquer Naples, and which triggered a series of wars that disrupted Italy for almost seventy years, and largely ended the independence of most Italian powers, as well as failing to gain the French any of their initial objectives. A fascinating look at this period, which saw last the last vestiges of medieval chivalry come up against the Spanish infantry armies, against the backdrop of the high renaissance (Read Full Review)
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With their Bare Hands – General Pershing, the 79th Division and the battle for Montfaucon, Gene Fax. Focuses on the exploits of the 79th Division during the Meuse-Argonne offensive, one of the largest battles in US military history, and in particular the battle for Montfaucon, supported by an excellent account of the American entry into the First World War, the doctrine and training of the US Army, the decisions of Pershing and his senior commanders. Shows how the American army was able to learn from its costly experiences and adapt to the conditions on the Western Front, often despite Pershing’s own believes about how the fighting should have gone(Read Full Review)
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6 December 2020

Spanish Galleon vs English Galleon, 1550-1605, Mark Lardas.Looks at the design, construction and crews of English and Spanish galleons, the differences between them (and how they changed), their place in the naval world of the late sixteenth century, and three iconic clashes involving galleons on both sides. Particularly interesting when looking at why the two countries produced different designs of galleons, and how the Spanish in particular learnt from their experiences and produced better ships after the Armada. (Read Full Review)
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Destroyer Cossack detailed in the original builders’ plans, John Roberts. A splendid entry in this series based around builders plans of warships, looking at the Second World War Tribal class destroyer HMS Cossack. Includes the normal series of deck and side plans taken from the massive ‘as fitted’ plans, along with more unusual plans, including detailed plans of the engine room and bridge, diagrams showing the water supply system and internal fuel pipes and extra plans showing other members of the class, as well as a design history of the class, and a more detailed look at the Cossack’s own short service life.(Read Full Review)
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Russian Tanks of World War II – 1939-1945, Stephen Hart. Looks at the tanks used by the Soviet Union during the Second World War, from the obsolete light tanks of the 1930s to the excellent T-34 and their increasingly powerful heavy tanks, as well as their self-propelled guns, and even the many types of western tanks sent to the Soviet Union under lend-lease. Most tanks get a page or two, with a brief history, a technical description, notes on their performance, stats and a side-on full colour illustration (Read Full Review)
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29 November 2020

Early Military Rifles 1740-1850, Balaza Nemeth. Focuses largely on the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the period that saw the first standardised rifles begin to appear, before the rifle slowly replaced the smoothbore musket as the main weapon of the infantry. An excellent book that covers the development of the flintlock and percussion muskets, and each countries training, ammo and tactics, (Read Full Review)
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Renaissance Armies in Italy 1450-1550, Gabriele Esposito. Looks at the main eight armies of the Italian Wars, a series of major conflicts that dominated Italy during the first half of the sixteenth century, and ended with the country largely dominated by Spain. Traces the development of each these armies during a period that saw the emergence of the first recognisably ‘modern’ infantry, the Spanish ‘tercios’(Read Full Review)
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North Cape 1943 – the Sinking of the Scharnhorst, Angus Konstam. A look at the last battle in which a British battleship fought against an enemy battleship, and the last clash between battleships fought without airpower. An excellent account of this battle, including a good background history, an explanation of the many advantages held by the British, and a detailed account of the battle, seen from both sides (Read Full Review)
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22 November 2020

The German MG 34 & MG 42 Machine Guns in World War II, Luc Guillou & Erik Dupont. A very detailed examination of two of the most significant German weapons of the Second World War, focusing largely on their design, manufacture and how they actually worked, as well as the accessories that helped make them so effective, including the various mounts and optics designed to go with them. Includes an excellent description of how the guns actually worked, with a step by step account of each movement, and all supported by an impressive array of photographs (mainly modern pictures of surviving examples). (Read Full Review)
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British Town Class Cruisers – Design, Development & Performance – Southampton and Belfast Classes, Conrad Waters. A detailed look at the development, design and combat record of the Town Class Cruisers, the most modern cruisers in British service at the outbreak of the Second World War.  Includes a detailed examination of the design process, a look at the layout of each sub-varient of the class (supported by the splendid colour plans produced at the time), a history of each ships career, and a detailed look at every occasion on which they were damaged. A very useful, detailed history of these important ships(Read Full Review)
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Japanese Aircraft of World War II 1937-1945, Thomas Newdick. A useful shorter reference work looking at the combat aircraft fielded by the Japanese during the Second World War, along with those jet and rocket powered aircraft that got closest to being completed. A useful guide to the aircraft of the Japanese Army and Navy, a key element in the rapid expansion of Japanese power, and in the increasingly desperate defence of their expanded Empire as the war turned against them. Organised by type of aircraft, with enough information on each type for the general reader, and longer sections on key aircraft such as the Zero (Read Full Review)
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15 November 2020

Morning Star, Midnight Sun – The Early Guadalcanal-Solomons Campaign of World War II August-October 1942, Jeffrey R. Cox. A splendid account of the early days of the Guadalcanal campaign, when the Americans were operating on a shoestring, and the Japanese probably missed their best chances to win the battle by underestimating their opponents. A fascinating tale of a battle that was fought at the extreme end of both side’s supply lines, and in which the Americans came to dominate the day and the Japanese to dominate the night, told in a very entertaining, if sometimes rather judgemental way, with a great deal of excellent material on both sides of the campaign(Read Full Review)
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Secret Operations of World War II, Alexander Stilwell. Starts off a bit scattergun, with a rather short look at the complex world of British secret operations, but improves when it looks at the less familiar resistance movements across occupied Europe, where we get a good overview of the various organisations, their motivations and activities, and the costly German counter-measures. A useful introduction to this vast topic, giving a good impression of how widespread and how varied the resistance to the German occupation was across Europe (Read Full Review)
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Eagles over the Sea 1943-45 – A History of Luftwaffe Maritime Operations, Lawrence Paterson. Part two of a study of German maritime operations looks at the years of decline, which saw the Luftwaffe lose control of the skies over the Bay of Biscay, suffer during the retreat on the Eastern Front, and entirely fail to contribute to the defence against Operation Overlord, but also a period in which it still had teeth, and inflicted some losses on the Allied fleets supporting the landings at Salerno and Anzio. At the same time the author traces the rise in the political influence of the Navy, after one of Hitler’s favourites Donitz replaced Raeder as commander-in-chief while Goring lost influence after failing to supply Stalingrad or to stop the increasingly heavy Allied bombing of Germany(Read Full Review)
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8 November 2020

For Orange and the States - The Army of the Dutch Republic, 1713-1772. Part I - Infantry, Marc Geerdink-Schaftgenaar. A detailed look at the infantry of the Dutch Republic in the years between the end of the War of the Austrian Succession to the adoption of new uniform regulations in 1772 when new uniform regulations were adopted, ending a period of obscurity. The first half of the book is a readable military history of the Dutch Republic from its foundation to the end of its second year of involvement in the War of the Austrian Succession, the second half a reference section bringing together what we know about the uniforms and commanders of each regiment in the Dutch infantry (Read Full Review)
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Nieuwpoort 1600 – The First Modern Battle, Bouko de Groot. Looks at the first major victory won by the reformed army of the Dutch Republic, the first recognisably modern European army, retrained to use the new concept of ‘drill’, which generally made it easier to command, respond quicker to commands, helped keep musketry accurate and controlled for longer, and even improved the resilience of drilled units. Contains an excellent account of those reforms – how they worked and the advantages they gave the Dutch, as well as the campaign and the battle itself, along with the aftermath in which any benefits from the Dutch victory were largely squandered(Read Full Review)
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German Guided Missiles of World War II – Fritz X to Wasserfall and X-4, Steven J. Zaloga. Looks at the various German anti-ship, anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles that either entered service, or were close to doing so, during the Second World War. Only the anti-shipping missiles actually reached the combat stage, and during 1943 achieved a number of successes during the Italian campaign, most famously sinking the Italian battleship Italia as it was attempting to surrender. Covers the technical side, the development history, and for those that had one the combat record of each of the main weapons, supported by good illustrations of all but the most obscure of weapons. (Read Full Review)
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25 October 2020

King William’s War, Michael G. Laramie. A look at the American part of the War of the League of Augsburg, mainly a clash between the English and French colonies in North America and their Native American allies, at a time when the Native Americans were still a major power, and the European colonies were still surprising fragile. (Read Full Review)
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Armies of the Great Northern War 1700-1720, Gabriele Esposito. A look at the many armies that were involved in the Great Northern War, from the main participants in Russia and Sweden to the Cossacks, Tatars and Ottoman forces that were briefly involved during Charles XII’s time in exile. An important conflict that ended Sweden’s brief time as a great power and established Russia as a Baltic power, and helped establish the reputation of Peter the Great as a great military reformer(Read Full Review)
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Blood and Soil – the Memoir of a Third Reich Brandenburger, Sepp de Giampietro. Looks at the wartime career of a German from the South Tyrol who ended up leaving Italy to join the Bradenburgers, Germany’s most famous Special Forces unit of the Second World War. Heprovides interesting accounts of his role in Greece and the Soviet Union, almost entirely ignores his year fighting partisans in the Balkans, and finishes with a fascinating account of his escape from American captivity and return home. Combines an interesting account of German special operations with an examination of how the author’s attitude to the war changed over time.(Read Full Review)
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11 October 2020

Rome’s Sicilian Slave Wars, Natale Barca. Looks at the first and second Servile Wars, massive slave uprisings that threatened Roman control of Sicily, and with it the grain supply to the city of Rome. Places them in the context of the wider Mediterranean world, the nature of the ancient slave trade, and the increasingly unstable nature of Roman politics. I don’t entirely agree with some of the author’s conclusions, but I did find this a useful book on two major conflicts that are often only mentioned in passing(Read Full Review)
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Armies of Celtic Europe – 700BC – AD106 – History, Organization and Equipment, Gabriele Esposito. A look at the military history of the ancient Celts, from their origins in central Europe through their expansion west into modern France, Spain and Britain and east into the Balkans and Anatolia, and their long conflict with the expanding Roman empire. Especially strong on the armours and weaponry of the Celts, and illustrated with a large number of pictures of modern re-enactors showing a wide range of types of Celtic arms and armour (Read Full Review)
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The Mighty Warrior Kings – From the Ashes of the Roman Empire to the New Ruling Order, Philip J. Potter. A series of biographies of significant Medieval kings, largely focused on their military careers, with limited analysis of other aspects of their reign. Few if any surprises in the kings chosen, but the all-inclusive approach to their military careers does mean that we learn about many conflicts that are otherwise ignored or skipped over, such as the 1069-70 Viking invasion of England or Richard I’s extensive military experience before becoming king(Read Full Review)
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4 October 2020

US Air Cavalry Trooper versus North Vietnamese Soldier – Vietnam 1965-68, Chris McNab. Largely focuses on the combat record of the US 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) in 1966-7, looking at how it performed in three battles against the North Vietnamese. Good on the US side, a bit thin in the Vietnamese side, so better seen as a examination of the airmobile concept than a direct comparison of the two units covered (Read Full Review)
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German Soldier versus Polish Soldier, Poland 1939, David R. Higgins. Looks at three battles between German and Polish infantry from the early days of the German invasion, when the Poles were still able to put up a decent fight, including a brief account of the development of both armies, how they were trained and equipped before moving onto good accounts of the battles, with excellent material from both sides (Read Full Review)
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God’s Viking – Harald Hardrada, the Life and Times of the Last Great Viking, Nic Fields. A look at the world in which Harald lived rather than an actual biography of the man, so has large sections on the history of the Vikings in Russia, the Varangian Guards, Viking warfare and so forth, often going some time without actually mentioning Harald. Includes plenty of interesting material on Harald’s world, but needed to focus more on its subject, or at least bring all of the pieces on Harald together before heading off into the background(Read Full Review)
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27 September 2020

The French 75, Steven J. Zaloga. A look at the develop and combat record of the French 75mm M1897, the first modern field gun, explaining the technical advances that made it such an impressive weapons, as well as the flaws that were revealed after the outbreak of war in 1914, and its impressive post-war career (Read Full Review)
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Armies of the Italian-Turkish Wars – Conquest of Libya, 1911-1912, Gabriele Esposito. Focuses more on the war itself than the armies that fought it, with the main emphasis on the fighting in Libya, but also covers the conquest of the Dodecanese and the limited naval campaigns. Does include orders of battle and descriptions of the armies themselves, but these take up less space than is often the case in this series. The result is a useful introduction to this relatively little known but significant war (Read Full Review)
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Dettingen 1743 – Miracle on the Main, Michael McNally. Looks at the last battle at which a British monarch commanded troops (George II), and a battle in which the French skilfully drew the opposing Pragmatic Army into a trap, only for the actions of one of the subordinate French commanders to give the allies a chance to escape from the trap. A good account of a battle in which both sides made major mistakes, and both sides were able to claim a victory of sorts (Read Full Review)
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20 September 2020

King Philip’s War 1675-76, America’s Deadliest Colonial Conflict, Gabriele Esposito. Looks at the last real chance the Native Americans of New England had to reclaim their homeland from the Puritan colonists who had arrived fifty-five years earlier, and rapidly spread across the area, while the Native Americans had been devastated by disease and pushed out of many of their original areas as the colonies expanded. The result was a costly war, in which the Native Americans were able to inflict a series of costly defeats on the Colonists, but not able to realistically threaten their larger settlements, giving them little or no chance of defeating the more numerous colonists (Read Full Review)
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Peter the Great’s Revenge – The Russian Siege of Narva in 1704, Boris Megorsky. Looks at one of Peter the Great’s successes during the Great Northern War, the capture of the Swedish controlled fortified city of Narva, a key position on the western approaches to Peter’s new city at St Petersburg. An interesting mix of a day-by-day narrative of the attack and inserts explaining how the major figures were and discussing aspects of eighteenth century siege warfare. An effective approach that gives us a rounded picture of the nature of siege warfare during the Great Northern War, as well as looking at the only time the Russians actually needed to storm a major besieged city(Read Full Review)
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Soviet Armoured Cars 1936-45, Jamie Prenatt. A useful look at the main types of armoured cars produced in the Soviet Union before and during the Second World War, looking at nine main types and their use in combat in Spain, the Far East, Poland, Finland and during the Second World War, including an example of how the lessons of combat could be misleading, after the armoured cars were able to compete on an equal footing with the very light tanks found in the earlier battles (Read Full Review)
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13 September 2020

The Frontiers of Imperial Rome, David J. Breeze. Looks at the entire length of the Roman frontier, from the familiar Hadrian’s Wall to the long desert frontiers in Africa and the Middle East, including the man made lines of forts and other features and the natural borders of mountains, rivers and coastlines. An excellent overview of a massive subject, looking at the individual elements of the frontiers, how they linked up along the frontiers and what their actual purpose may have been.(Read Full Review)
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Cromwell’s Failed State and the Monarchy, Timothy Venning. Looks at the political and military history of the period between the end of the First Civil War and the establishment of Cromwell’s Protectorate, largely to ask if the Protectorate or something similar was an almost inevitable result, or if there had ever been a possibility of an agreement with Charles I or another Stuart, or that Parliament might have stayed in power. A bit ramshackle and lacking any introduction to explain its purpose, but otherwise a useful look at key elements of this period that are often skipped over quite quickly.(Read Full Review)
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Britain’s War Against the Slave Trade, Anthony Sullivan. Focuses on Britain’s long naval campaign against the African slave trade, which combined with a prolonged diplomatic effort eventually ended that trade. Largely taken up with accounts of every clash between the Royal Navy and slaving ships along the coast, the fate of those slavers and the people found onboard, but also looks at the attempts to win over the major slaving nations, and the difficulties caused by jointly run courts set up to decide the eventual fate of the captured ships(Read Full Review)
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6 September 2020

The German Army on Campaign 1914-1918, Bob Carruthers. At the same time familiar but different, looks at the First World War from the German side of the lines, so we get the same sort of pictures as in books on the British Army, but with different uniforms and equipment (and more mustaches). An interesting collection of photographs, showing how similar life was on the other side of no man’s land(Read Full Review)
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Emperors of Rome – The Monsters – From Tiberius to Theodora, AD 14-548, Paul Chrystal. A look at some of the most notorious of the Roman emperors and their famous misdeeds. Covers quite a range, starting with the second emperor, Tiberius, and finishing with the early Byzantine Justinian and his wife Theodora. A bit ‘tabloid’ in nature, recounting the reported sexual misdeeds of a series of Emperors and the Imperial women. Starts with a brief introduction looking at similar atrocities committed in earlier periods, to help put these people in the context of their times, but could have done with more analysis of our sources and their motives(Read Full Review)
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Darwin 1942 – The Japanese Attack on Australia, Bob Alford. Focuses on the Japanese air raids on Darwin on 19 February 1942, the first and by far the largest of the ninety seven Japanese air attack on the Australian mainland during the Second World War. A very detailed account of the air battle, with eyewitness accounts from both sides, and an excellent analysis of experiences of the airmen on both sides and their losses. (Read Full Review)
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30 August 2020

The Archaeology of the Holocaust, Richard A. Freund. Looks at the use of non-invasive archaeological methods, including Geoscience (perhaps better known in the UK as geophysics) at two centres of Jewish life, in Rhodes and Vilna, both destroyed during the Holocaust.  Focuses on the technical aspects of what was done, why it was done, the background story of the two areas and the way the local population was involved, rather than on the actual details of the digs(Read Full Review)
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The Light Division in the Peninsular war 1808-1811, Tim Saunders and Rob Yuill. Looks at the history of the units that would become the Light Division, and the early activities of the division itself, from Wellington’s first campaign in 1808, through Sir John Moore’s time in charge and on to Bucaco Ridge the Lines of Torres Vedra and the French retreat back into Spain. Uses a wider range of sources than most (although does include the famous Rifleman Harris), so we get a better picture of the overall activities of the division(Read Full Review)
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Combat over the Mediterranean, Chris Goss. Focuses largely on the RAF’s anti-shipping missions, using the gun camera photographs taken during actual attacks to give a vivid picture of this important part of the war in the Mediterranean. Focuses largely on No.252 Squadron, as the pictures came from the collection of Dennis Butler, who commandeered the squadron twice during the war. Often includes a whole series of pictures from the same attack, giving us an unparalleled view of events as they happened(Read Full Review)
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23 August 2020

Rome’s Third Samnite War – 298-290BC – the Last Stand of the Line Legion, Mike Roberts. Focuses on the Third Samnite War, the last time the Samnites were Rome’s main opponents in a conflict, placing the conflict in the wider context of its times and looking at Rome’s other foes at the time, as well as following the rivalry through to its end in the dying days of the Republic. Generally very good, although outside the Third War the timeline could be clearer. During the war itself does a good job of creating a coherent account of this often poorly recorded conflict.(Read Full Review)
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Leading the Roman Army – Soldiers and Emperors 31 BC-AD 235, Jonathan Eaton. Takes a different approach to the Roman army, looking at the relationship between the Emperor and his soldiers, both the regular army and the Praetorian Guard, how the army was led and disciplined and what influence it actually had over politics (ie the Emperor and succession), in a period when the Emperor was the sole source of military authority. (Read Full Review)
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Vietnam War US & Allied Combat Equipments, Gordon L. Rottman. A detailed examination of the non-combat equipment carried by US and allied troops during the Vietnam War, looking both at the official kit and what was actually carried. Excludes the uniform itself and any actual weapons, but covers just about everything else, from the webbing used to carry most of the kit to the various types of first aid kits. The author actually served in Vietnam in 1969-70, so knows what he is talking about! (Read Full Review)
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16 August 2020

Wellington and the British Army’s Indian Campaigns 1798-1805, Martin R. Howard. Looks at the wider context to Wellington’s time in India, covering most of the military campaigns that took place while he was present, not just those in which he was involved. A little weak on the Indian side of the fighting, but otherwise good, and provides some useful context to Wellington’s famous victories of this period(Read Full Review)
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We Killed Yamamoto, Si Sheppard. Looks at one of the most famous air attacks of the entire Second World War, the P-38 strike that killed Admiral Yamamoto, one of the key targets for the US after his role in the attack on Pearl Harbor. Includes good material on code breaking and its role in the war to that date, the decision to carry out the raid, the planning and the raid, and finally the long running controversy about which pilot actually shot down Yamamoto (Read Full Review)
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Churchill’s Hellraisers – A Secret Mission to Storm a Forbidden Nazi Fortress, Damien Lewis. A very entertaining account of Operation Tombola, a joint SOE and SAS mission in northern Italy that joined with the Italian resistance to attack the HQ of the German LI Corps. A very readable and atmospheric book covering a fascinating raid, slightly marred by insisting on calling the Corps HQ the 14th Army HQ throughout the book. Otherwise good, with an adventure story stone that brings the story to life (Read Full Review)
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9 August 2020

To Defeat the Few, Douglas C. Dildy and Paul F. Crickmore. A look at the Battle of Britain as seen from the German point of view, looking at what the Luftwaffe was attempting to achieve at each stage of the battle, how their plans were formed and implemented and what each individual raid was trying to achieve. This is a very useful approach to the battle, showing us its familiar events consistently from a different angle, (Read Full Review)
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The Piat – Britain’s anti-tank weapon of World War II, Matthew Moss. A good examination of the PIAT, the British Army’s most effective man portable infantry anti-tank weapon of the Second World War, looking at how it was developed, how it actually operated, and how effective it was in combat, where it was used against armour, against strong points and as a light mortar. Tracings its use in Italy, Normandy and afterwards, Warsaw and the Far East, as well as its limited post-war career(Read Full Review)
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Hitler’s Eastern Legions 1942-45, Nigel Thomas. Looks at the units raised by the Germans in the far eastern part of the conquests – the Caucasus, Turkestan, Volga and Crimea, with lots of information on their uniforms, organisation, locations, insignia etc squeezed into the space, but apparently no room to discuss any war crimes committed by these units.(Read Full Review)
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2 August 2020

Roman Soldier versus Parthian Warrior – Carrhae to Nisibis, 53 BC-AD 217, Si Sheppard . Looks at one of the great rivalries of the ancient world, between the infantry led armies of Rome and the cavalry armies of the Parthians, a rivalry that saw Rome suffer some of its worst defeats, and ended the Empire’s advance east. Nicely structured, examining three key battles alternating with the overview of events between to paid a picture of the overall nature of the relationship (Read Full Review)
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Women at War in the Classical World, Paul Chrystal . A survey of the role, experiences and attitudes to women in warfare across the Classical world, from the archaic Greek world of Homer to late Roman antiquity, including both real and fictional women and mythological figures. Covers the full range of experience from women as commanders (Cleopatra being the most famous) to women as victims of war, especially in the aftermath of defeat, as well as interesting sections on the attitude of these societies to woman’s role in warfare (Read Full Review)
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Setting the Med Ablaze – Churchill’s Secret North African Base, Peter Dixon . A fascinating book looking at SOE’s secret HQ in North Africa, code named Massingham, from where the organisation ran operations across the Mediterranean – on Corsica, Sardinia and Sicily, mainland Italy and France. The focus of this book isn’t on the individual missions themselves, but rather on the organisation behind them and their overall objectives (Read Full Review)
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26 July 2020

World War II German Super-Heavy Siege Guns, Marc Romanych & Martin Rupp. Looks at the heaviest siege artillery used by the Germans during the Second World War, from the super-heavy but essentially useless 80cm railway guns ‘Dora’ and ‘Gustav’ to the old First World War guns pressed into service. Nicely organised, with their combat record examined campaign by campaign, and with a useful emphasis on how the guns were actually used in practice(Read Full Review)
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Velikiye Luki 1942-43 – The Doomed Fortress, Robert Forczyk. Looks at a significant but relatively unknown battle on the Eastern Front, the first time that a reasonably prepared German force had been wiped out in a siege, and a determined relief effort had failed. Overshadowed by the similar but much larger battle of Stalingrad, this was still a major battle, and demonstrates many of the trends that were leading the Germans to defeat (Read Full Review)
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The Normans in Italy 1016-1194, Raffaele D’Amato and Andrea Salimbeti. An overview of the Norman presence in Italy, from the first appearance of the Normans as mercenaries to the formation of the powerful Kingdom of Sicily, and their dominance of the central Mediterranean, looking at their history in Italy, how they fought, how they were equipped and examining two sample battles. Nicely sub-divided to reflect the very different natures of the early conquest armies and the later Royal armies, and the multi-cultural nature of the army, with Norman, Greek and Muslim components (Read Full Review)
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19 July 2020

Nierstein and Oppenheim 1945 – Patton Bounces the Rhine, Russ Rodgers. Looks at the campaign that saw Patton’s Third Army carry out a formal assault across the Moselle, then ‘bounce’ across the Rhine, getting across that river just before the start of Montgomery’s large scale formal assault further north (although the speed of the final attack was motivated more by a desire to stop the Germans forming a new front). This is an excellent examination of Patton’s method of war, demonstrating why the Germans feared him so(Read Full Review)
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The Battle of Tsushima, Phil Carradice. Although the book includes good material on the reasons for the campaign and the battle itself, it focuses largely on the utterly compelling story of the 18,000 mile long voyage taken by the Russian Baltic Fleet as it moved towards near-total distruction at the battle of Tsushima. This voyage was a major achievement, carried out with hardly any friendly bases along the route, but is inevitably overshadowed by the crushing defeat of the Russian fleet at the end of the voyage (Read Full Review)
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The Desert Air Force in World War II - Air Power in the Western Desert 1940-1942, Ken Delve. A very detailed examination of the day-by-day experiences of the British and Empire aircrew who fought in North Africa, from the early victorious campaigns against the Italians, through the back-and-fore period against Rommel, ending with the defensive battles deep inside Egypt, the highpoint of Rommel’s advance towards the Nile. Does include brief overviews of the strategic situation, but focuses very much on the day-to-day personal memories of the aircrew(Read Full Review)
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12 July 2020

Japan’s Asian Allies 1941-45, Philip Jowett. Looks at the surprisingly numerous and varied forces raised by the Japanese across their short-lived Empire during the Second World War, ranging from the large, moderately well equipped forces of the Indian National Army to small occupation forces armed with spears or clubs. Includes a number of forces that were later remembered as part of post-war independence movements, and quite a few that changed sides as the war progressed (Read Full Review)
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The Jacobite Rising of 1715 and the Murray Family – Brothers in Arms, Rosalind Anderson. Looks at the history of the Murray family, one of the senior families of the Scottish aristocracy, in the period leading up to the ’15, where three sons of John Murray, first duke of Atholl, fought on the Jacobite side. Well supported by an impressive array of family letters, this book gives us a real feel for life within this family, and helps explain why so many of the duke’s sons repeatedly rebelled (Read Full Review)
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Operation Market-Garden 1944 (2) - The British Airborne Missions, Ken Ford. Part two of a three part series on Market-Garden, looking at the 1st Airborne Division’s battle at Arnhem itself, where they were able to hold on for much longer than the plan required (despite a number of serious flaws with the airborne plan and mistakes on the ground), before the survivors were forced to retreat back across the Rhine. A good short account of this famous battle, useful for anyone who wants to understand the battle without getting bogged down in too much detail(Read Full Review)
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5 July 2020

The Petlyakov Pe-2 – Stalin’s Succesful Red Air Force Light Bomber, Peter C. Smith. Looks at the development and career of the Petlyakov Pe-2, the most important Soviet twin engined bomber of the Second World War, and a successful dive bomber that played a major role in the fighting on the Eastern Front. Includes very detailed sections on the development of the aircraft, as well as its combat record, potted biographies of many of the key Pe-2 pilots, and its fairly brief post-war career. Sometimes exaggerates the significant and performance of the Pe-2, but is otherwise excellent. (Read Full Review)
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Battle in the Baltic – The Royal Navy and the Fight to Save Estonia and Latvia 1918-20, Steve R Dunn. Looks at the Royal Navy’s involvement in the Baltic after the Russian Revolution, where it played a significant role in securing the independence of Estonia and Latvia, against threats from the Bolsheviks, expansionist Germans, White Russians who wanted to restore the entire Tsarist Empire, all the time working without any significant political support at home, or any clear idea what the British government policy actually was. Despite the limited resources available the Navy still managed to carry out a motor boat attack on the main Soviet fleet, as well as providing invaluable support for the fighting on land, despite poor conditions that even triggered some minor mutinies.(Read Full Review)
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Armoured Cruiser Cressy, detailed in the original builders’ plan, Andrew Choong. Looks at the Cressy class armoured cruisers, using the beautifully drawn ‘as-fitted’plans produced after they were completed, to illustrate their actual layout in great detail. Part of a splendid series, this is a good example of a particular type of armoured cruiser, with many of its guns carried in two layers of casemates along the sides. By 1914 the armoured cruiser was almost obsolete, and the Cressy class is most famous for the loss of three to one U-boat on a single day, but when new they were were powerful modern ships. As with all of these books, this answers all sorts of questions about the layout of these ships, and is fascinating to look through.(Read Full Review)
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28 June 2020

Ancient Warfare Vol XI, Issue 4: Wars of the Twelve Tribe - Conflict in the Old TestamentAncient Warfare Vol XI, Issue 4: Wars of the Twelve Tribe - Conflict in the Old Testament Focuses on some of the wars mentioned in the Old Testament, including Gideon’s famous selection of an elite force, a coalition battle against the Neo-Assyrians, the defensive policy of Judah, the role of Israelites in the Assyrian army, and the Lachish reliefs. Away from the theme looks at a Roman military diploma in New York, all-source analysis and the mystery of the antisignani, described as fighting in front of the banners in a Roman army. [see more]
Ancient Warfare Vol X, Issue 1: Conflict Between Sparta and Athens - The Archidamian WarAncient Warfare Vol X, Issue 1: Conflict Between Sparta and Athens - The Archidamian War Focuses on the Archidamian War, the first ten years of the Great Peloponnesian War, which saw both Athens and Sparta win major victories and suffer costly defeats, before ending in a draw and a short-lived peace. Covers the type of troops involved, the roles of Pericles, Brasidas and Socrates, the siege of Plataea, the temple of Athena Nike and the clash between Sparta and Argos. Also looks at letters written by Roman troops in the eastern desert of Egypt, and the evidence for PTSD in the Roman world [see more]
The Komnene Dynasty - Byzantium’s Struggle for Survival 1057-1185, John Carr. Looks at the history of the most famous dynasty in Byzantine history (largely because of the work of Anna Comnena and its overlap with the early Crusades), with a focus on the well documented reign of Alexios I. This is a useful examination of a dynasty that started well, saving Byzantium from possible collapse in the aftermath of Manzikert, but that ended with an equally disasterous defeat and dynastic chaos in the last two reigns. Also includes a useful overview of earlier Byzantine history and a brief look at the period after the end of the dynasty, which saw their descendants rule the tiny Empire of Tribizond, while Byzantium was sacked by the Crusaders. (Read Full Review)
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21 June 2020

Hitler’s Panzers – the Complete History 1933-1945, Anthony Tucker-Jones. A well structured book that gives a useful overview of the development and deployment of Germany’s armoured vehicles during the Second World War, although that would have benifited from some further editing to avoid repetition and some inconsistency. Its main strong point come in the chapters on combat deployment, which acknowledge that the varied types of tanks fought as part of a larger war machine, and not in individual tank-vs-tank battles(Read Full Review)
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The Modern Cruiser – The evolution of the ships that fought the Second World War – Robert C. Stern. Looks at the most varied class of major warship, covering everything from tiny scout cruisers not much bigger than the largest destroyers up to the massive battle cruisers of the First World War. A well structured book, with each chapter looking at a particular period and the cruisers produced in response to the naval treaties in place at the time combined with reports of what each power’s rivals were building. An interesting look at a series of warships that wouldn’t have existed in the form they did without the London and Washington naval treaties(Read Full Review)
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Spoils of War – The Fate of Enemy Fleets after the Two World Wars, Aiden Dodson & Serena Cant. Looks at the fate of the defeated nation’s fleets after the two World Wars, when the surviving ships were split between the victorious nations, but not after a great deal of debate about who got what, and what should happen to the remaining ships (as well as to those that might have been salvageable). Includes a clear narrative of events, and a very useful reference section, tracing the fate of each surviving ship(Read Full Review)
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7 June 2020

An Archaeological Study of the Bayeux Tapestry – the Landscapes, Buildings and Places, Trevor Rowley. Takes a different approach to the Bayeux Tapestry, looking at what the locations it portrayed would actually have looked like in 1066, and comparing that to what we see on the tapestry. The result is a useful guide to the world of the Norman Conquest, using a mix of archaeological and landscape evidence, supported by a look at similar buildings that have survived from the time period, all supported by a campaign history to put the landscape history into context. Also benefits from focusing equally on each part of the tapestry rather than just on the invasion and battle scenes (Read Full Review)
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The Battle of Waterloo, A Near Observer. One of the earliest books published on the battle of Waterloo, made up of a series of letters written by eyewitnesses to the campaign, official reports from all sides (including some from countries not actually involved in the battle!) and finishing with casualties. First published in 1815, this is the seventh edition, which came out in the same year! You will find better collections of sources, but you won’t find one with quite the same immediacy as this. Also includes three foldouts, two with maps of the battle and one with an impressive panoramic sketch(Read Full Review)
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Modern Africa Wars (5) - The Nigerian-Biafran War 1967-70, Philip S. Jowett. Looks at the armies of the Biafran War, a civil war that broke out fairly soon after Nigeria gained independence, and saw the eastern part of the country fail to break away. A studious neutral account of the war, largely ignoring the accusations of war crimes levelled against both sides (Read Full Review)
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31 May 2020

Ancient Warfare Vol X, Issue 3: Rome  versus Poisonous Pontus  - The Mithridatic Wars, 88-63 BCAncient Warfare Vol X, Issue 3: Rome versus Poisonous Pontus - The Mithridatic Wars, 88-63 BC Longs at the three wars between Rome and Mithridates VI of Pontus, spread out over three crucial decades that saw the beginning of the end for the old Roman Republic. Includes articles on the Roman strategy in Asia Minor, the Greek view of the wars, the armies of Mithridates, his ally Tigranes II and the Roman commander Lucullus. Away from the theme there is a look at Egyptian sea power, and the nature of Greek siege warfare [see more]
Ancient Warfare Vol X, Issue 5: The Legacy of  Cyrus - The empires of Persia at WarAncient Warfare Vol X, Issue 5: The Legacy of Cyrus - The empires of Persia at War Focuses on the massive Persian Empire, starting with the conquest of Cyrus the Great and going on to the later Sassanid period. Includes an interesting look at how Cyrus’s conquest of Babylon became the basis of a much later Sassanid myth, the undocumented but archeologically interesting of Dura-Europos, and the portrayal of Artemisia of Halicarnassus in the Greek histories of the period [see more]
Medieval Warfare Vol VI, Issue 5: Bernard's Chosen - The Knights TemplarMedieval Warfare Vol VI, Issue 5: Bernard's Chosen - The Knights Templar Focuses on the Knights Templar, one of the two famous main military orders who fought in the Middle East during the Crusades, but who are perhaps best known now for their destruction by Philip IV of France, and their seemingly endless appearances in modern fiction. Here the focus is on the real historical order, how they were founded and organised, the reasons for their successes, and for their defeats, how they were seen at the time, and how they were remembered [see more]

24 May 2020

North Africa and the Middle East – Wargames Terrain & Buildings, Tony Harwood. Part two in a series on scratch building wargaming terrain, looking at North Africa and the Middle East, but with no particular time period in mind. Contains a mix of fairly simple and more complex models, mainly buildings but also including a gunboat and an entire oasis scene. The many and varied techniques look fairly achievable, and the instructions are nice and clear. Now I just need an excuse to build myself a model mud brick hut! (Read Full Review)
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Malaya and Singapore 1941-42, Mark Stille. Looks at one of the most disastrous campaigns in British military history, from the Japanese landings in northern Malaya and southern Thailand to the failed attempt to defend Singapore. Starts with an examination of the justifiably criticised British commanders and their more experienced and capable Japanese opponents, and of the opposing forces, before moving on to a good clear account of the skilful Japanese advance and the often woeful British defence, which led to the eventual surrender of Singapore and over 130,000 POWs. (Read Full Review)
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Torpedo Bombers 1900-1950, Jean-Denis Lepage. Looks at the fairly short history of the torpedo bomber, focusingly mainly on the aircraft themselves, with a series of historical introductions looking at the development of the torpedo and torpedo bomber, and each of the historical periods the book is split into. The book is built around hundreds of short articles on the individual aircraft, each supported by at least one of the author’s own illustrations. Very useful for the earlier period, and well into the Second World War, perhaps less so later on, reflecting the decline of the actual torpedo bomber!(Read Full Review)
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17 May 2020

Try Ancient Warfare magazine for 6 months. Click to subscribeAncient Warfare Vol XI, Issue 5: Riding into Battle - Ancient mounted warfare Focuses on mounted warfare in the ancient world, but with a wider remit than horse cavalry, so includes a look at dromedary troops, two articles on war elephants and one on a type of infantry that found alongside the cavalry, as well as the evidence for cavalry on the Pydna monument, and an examination of how the Legions cared for their horses. Also includes an alternative theory on how the Legions fought, and a look at a mystery troop type mentioned in a Roman military manual [see more]
Try Ancient Warfare magazine for 6 months. Click to subscribeMedieval Warfare Vol VIII, Issue 4: From Priest to King - Sverrir Sigurdsson and his saga Focuses on the career of Sverri Sigurdsson who rose from humble origins and early training to be a priest to win the crown of Norway after a successful rebellion against an apparently popular king. One of those historical figures who life reads more like a novel than real life, at least in part because many of the details come from a saga that he probably just about co-authored!  Also looks at the impact of the Black Death on warfare, in particular the Hundred Years, which was in its early stages at the time [see more]
Try Ancient Warfare magazine for 6 months. Click to subscribeMedieval Warfare Vol VIII, Issue 5: Early Arab Assaults on Byzantium Focuses on the early Arab attacks on the city of Constantinople, and the Byzantine armies that defeated them, including a convincing argument that the first Arab siege, of 674-8, probably didn’t happen in that form as well as a look at the siege of 717-8 that very much did. Includes a fascinating account of the contacts between the Spanish in the Philippines and Japanese exiles, including as enemies and as much admired mercenaries [see more]

10 May 2020

Run to the Sound of the Guns, Nicholas Moore & Mir Bahmanyar. A very atmospheric account of the experiences of a US Army Ranger who was involved in the War of Terror from the start in 2001 until being wounded in 2011. This period saw the Rangers evolve from a unit that carried out large scale operations, to one capable of carrying out the sort of small scale raids previous left to the Special Forces, and Moore is an engaging guide to that development. We get a convincing mix of successful and unsuccessful operations, and a real feel for what it was like to carry out operations in the Afghan mountains or the Iraqi urban landscape (Read Full Review)
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Special Forces in the War on Terror, Leigh Neville. Looks at the used of the many Special Forces units available to the Americans and their allies during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and during the wider war on Terror, looking both at how they were organised and directed at a top level, and at many of their individual missions on the ground, as well as how their equipment and techniques evolved over time. Ends before the rise of ISIS to prominence, although there are a few mentions along the way (Read Full Review)
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Prisoners on Cannock Chase, Richard Purehouse. A rare history of a First World War era Prisoner of War camp in Britain, looking at a camp built on Cannock Chase, combining a normal POW camp and a hospital camp. Covers the physical layout of the camp, life within the camp, entertainment, discipline and complaints about the commandant. An interesting account of an unusual topic, with good material from the German point of view, that of the camp’s garrison as well as from the locals in the Cannock area. (Read Full Review)
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26 April 2020

The Battleships of the Iowa Class, Philippe Caresse. An impressive history of the Iowa class battleships, translated flawlessly from French, and with the space within its 500 pages to contain a detailed technical history of the ships, accounts of each of their long service careers and to have more photographs than most pictorial guides could ever hope to have! The photographs benefit greatly from the survival of all four of these ships, to show us fascinating views of their interioirs, of the type that almost never survive for their contemporary warships (Read Full Review)
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Postcards of the Army Service Corps 1902-1918, Coming of Age, Michael Young. A collection of postcards sent home by members of the Army Service Corps, from the corps’ formation to the end of the First World War, so largely dominated by pictures of groups of men from the corps, showing how it developed from fairly small roots into a massive formation. Also helps illustrate how the army mechanised, going from the earliest motorvehicles introduced in tiny numbers to the vast fleets that supported operations on the Western Front(Read Full Review)
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Sovereign of the Seas 1637, John McKay. A rather technical, but also lavishily illustrated, examination of Charles I’s famous flagship, split into a very technical first half discussing the details of the ship and her construction and the methods used to fill the gaps in our knowledge, and an impressive section of 2D, 3D and isometric plans that cover just about every part of the ship in great detail(Read Full Review)
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19 April 2020

Black Swan Class Sloops, Les Brown. An excellent look at the Black Swan and Modified Black Swan class sloops using the Navy’s original high quality working drawings, to give an incredibly detailed view of the layout and internal arrangements of these high quality anti-submarine warfare vessels. Provides plans from four different ships, including the Amethyst, famously trapped in the Yangtze after coming under fire from Chinese Communist forces(Read Full Review)
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Victoria Crosses on the Western Front – 1917 to Third Ypres, 27 January 1917-27 July 1917, Paul Oldfield. Continues this series looking at all of the Victoria Crosses of the First World war, covering the period between the end of the battle of the Somme and the start of the third battle of Ypres, including the Arras offensive and the battle of Messines. Combines a narrative of the events leading to the award, a guide to the battlefield and detailed biographies of the inviduals involved (Read Full Review)
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Company of Heroes, Eric Poole. Looks at the tragic story of Leslie Sabo, jr, conscripted to serve in Vietnam just after his marriage, and who was killed during Nixon’s futile incursion into Cambodia. Covers Sabo’s family’s earlier experiences, starting in Hungary, his life before the military, he and his company’s experiences in Vietnam, including the disastrous battle in which he was killed, the survivor’s experiences after the war, and finishes with the story of how Sabo was awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor some four decades later(Read Full Review)
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12 April 2020

Junkers Ju 87 Stuka, Martin Derry and Neil Robinson. Combines a history of the Ju 87 Stuka with a detailed modeller’s guide, including colour schemes, reviews of the many models available, and pictures of many of those models assembled and painted by experts. Combines the technical and operation histories in a series of chapters looking at each major sub-type, before moving on to the impressive guide to the kits, which takes up the last third of the book!(Read Full Review)
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Courage without Glory – The British Army on the Western Front 1915, ed. Spencer Jones. A series of articles looking at the problems faced by the rapidly expanding BEF during 1915, the year in which the pre-war Regular army had to be replaced with new recruits, Territorial divisions and the first of Kitchener’s New Army. An interesting view of the problems caused by the massive expansion of the army, and the battles that the newly formed force had to fight to support their French Allies.(Read Full Review)
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The Thames 1813 - The War of 1812 on the Northwest Frontier, John F. Winkler. A rather biased account of the campaign that led to the battle of the Thames of 1813, seen from a rather old fashioned American perspective, especially towards the Native Americans. The campaign and battle accounts are the best part of the book, although still rather unbalanced in the amount of space given to each side, with the bulk of the text looking at the American campaign. On the plus side it gives a very good idea of how difficult it was to campaign in what was then a very remote area, and covers the entire campaign in the area in 1812-13 (especially good as the battle itself isn’t terribly interesting)(Read Full Review)
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5 April 2020

Retribution – The Soviet Reconquest of Central Ukraine 1943, Prit Buttar. A detailed history of the fighting on the southern part of the Eastern Front, from the aftermath of the failure of Operation Citadel to the end of the year, and covering the final liberation of Kharkov, the central Ukraine and Kiev, and with it several key industrial areas, marking the start of the series of Soviet offensives that would eventually end in Berlin (Read Full Review)
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Sniper of the Skies- The Story of George Frederick 'Screwball' Beurling DSO DFC DFM*, Nick Thomas. Looks at the career of the Canadian fighter ace George Beurling, who made his name during the desperate battles over Malta. Traces his early life, with his great enthusiasm for flying, his determination to join the RAF, but then problems fitting in, before he finally found his place in Malta. Most unusually his career actually ended before the war was over, and sadly he never seems to have adapted to life after the excitement of Malta (Read Full Review)
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King's African Rifles Soldier vs Schutztruppe Soldier - East Africa 1917-1918, Gregg Adams. Looks at the role played by the British and German units raised in their East Africa colonies using African soldiers during the long East African campaign. Demonstrates that the Germans had an early advantage, after expanding their forces quickest, but that the KAR soon rose to a similar level. Also gives a good idea of the problems of bush warfare. (Read Full Review)
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29 March 2020

Hitler's Ardennes Offensive – The German View of the Battle of the Bulge, ed. Danny S. Parker. A series of interviews with the leading figures in the Ardennes offensive – the main German army commanders Dietrich, Kramer and Manteuffel, the high commander represented by Keitel and Jodl and a later commentary by Blumentritt. Provides an invaluable insight into how these high ranking officers saw the offensive in its immediate aftermath, before the post-war process of revisionism really took off(Read Full Review)
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The Naval Siege of Japan 1945 – War Plan Orange Triumphant, Brian Lane Herder. Looks at the final stage of the US Navy’s war against Japan, the series of carrier strikes and battleship attacks on the Japanese Home Islands then helped devastate the Japanese war economy in the last months of the war. Often only looked at in brief, between the battle of Okinawa and the dropping of the Atomic Bombs, these raids were actually a key part of the US plan for the invasion of Japan, and the damage they caused (and the ability of the US fleet to operate so close to Japan) helped convince the Japanese leadership that the war was lost(Read Full Review)
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Call to Arms – Over by Christmas, David Bilton. A photographic history of the first few months of the First World War, looking at just about everything apart from the fighting itself, so covers the pre-war period, the initial mobilisation, propaganda, key personalities of 1914, the fate of Europe’s many refugees, ending with a look at Christmas 1914, by which time it was clear the war would very much not be over by Christmas(Read Full Review)
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22 March 2020

Commando General - The Life of Major General Sir Robert Laycock KCMG CB DSO, Richard Mead. A biography of one of the key figures in the formation of the British Commandos, and the head of Combined Operations during the D-Day landings. Tells the story of a leader who was successful despite limited combat experience, and a general lack of support from the higher ranks of the home army (Read Full Review)
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Heinrich Himmler, The Sinister Life of the Head of the SS and Gestapo, Heinrich Fraenkel & Roger Manvell. One of the first post-war biographies of Himmler, originally published in 1965, but still a valuable look at the life of one of the most evil men in the Nazi regime. Gives us a valuable portrait of a basically petty man, dangerous because of his combination of vile opinions and almost unrestricted power within the Third Reich. A little dated (originally published in 1965), but otherwise sound. (Read Full Review)
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Gaiseric – The Vandal who Destroyed Rome, Ian Hughes. A biography of the Vandal king Gaiseric, one of the most important figures in the fall of the Western Roman Empire as the founder of the Vandal kingdom in North Africa that both bankrupted and defeated the Empire. This is the fascinating story of a man whose career spanned the fall of the Roman Empire, and in many ways helped caused it (Read Full Review)
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15 March 2020

The Ismaili Assassins – A History of Medieval Murder, James Waterson. A detailed history of the infamous Assassins, showing that they were much more than just a band of killers. Traces their birth out of the internal disputes that split the early Islamic world, their establishment in Persia, their use of political murder to try and protect their small state, and their influence on the wider world (Read Full Review)
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Ancient Warfare Vol XII, Issue 3: The Many Means of Protection - Body armour in the ancient worldAncient Warfare Vol XII, Issue 3: The Many Means of Protection - Body armour in the ancient world Focuses on the use of armour in the ancient world, including a look at its earliest forms, the emergence of chain mail, how heavy armour could be countered and the industrial scale of armour production in the Roman Empire. Also looks at the use of magical wards in the supersticious Roman army, the use of animal pelts by standard bearers, aspects of the cavalry and the development of siege warfare [see more]
Try Ancient Warfare magazine for 6 months. Click to subscribeAncient Warfare Vol XI, Issue 1: Blotting out the Sun - Archers in the ancient world Focuses on archery across the Ancient world, covering an impressively wide geographical and historical range, from Qin China in the east to Rome in the west, and including the Neo-Assyrians, Cretan archers and the mounted archer. Also looks at Marathon, the famous Lorica Segmentata and an example of a Roman Centurion [see more]

8 March 2020

Amiens 1918 - Victory from Disaster, Gregory Blaxland. Looks at the main British contribution to the campaigns of 1918 – the battles on the Amiens sector of the Western Front, which saw one of the famous German offensives of 1918 and some of the most significant battles in the Allied fightback and the ‘100 days’ that led to victory. A bit dated, but still a useful detailed account of this key campaign(Read Full Review)
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The Secret South - A Tale of Operation Tabarin 1943-46, Ivan Mackenzie Lamb. A first hand account of a wartime expedition to Antartica, launched to counter an Argentinian claim to the area, but that turned into an impressive voyage of discovery. Written by a truly extraordinary person, this book tells an utterly fascinating tale, almost entirely divorced from the war that triggered it! (Read Full Review)
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With the Royal Navy in War and Peace, O’er the Dark Blue Sea, Vice Admiral B.B. Schofield. An autobiography of a senior British naval officer of the Second World War, covering his time as naval attaché in France and Holland in 1939-40, with the key Trade Division and sharing Eisenhower’s HQ before D-Day, as well as his time commanding several warships including two of Britain’s last battleships(Read Full Review)
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1 March 2020

Battle for Paris 1815, Paul L. Dawson. A look at the fighting between Waterloo and the official French surrender, mainly limited to a number of fairly minor encounters between the victorious Prussians and the retreating French. Suffers from something of an obsession with Grouchy that delays the start of the main topic by several chapters, but still has good archival material on the French side of this final campaign of the Napoleonic wars (Read Full Review)
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American Hannibal, Jim Stempel. A look at one of the key battles of the American War of Independence, a British defeat that began the series of events that ended with the surrender at Yorktown. Structured around the two main leaders at Cowpens, Daniel Morgan and Banastre Tarleton, tracing how they got to the battlefield, their respective military experiences and how that played into the eventual American victory (Read Full Review)
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Britain’s Last Invasion – the Battle of Fishguard 1797, Phil Carradice. A fascinating look at the last time foreign troops landed on British soil, a rather farsical French landing on the remote Pembrokeshire coast that only lasted for a few days, but that lived on much longer in local legend. Traces the evolution of the French plan, the local response to it and the rapid collapse of the invasion (read full review)
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23 February 2020

The Trafalgar Chronicle New Series 2, ed. Peter Hore. Mainly built around a series of articles looking at the early history of the US Marine Corps and the Royal Marines in the period around the Napoleonic Wars. An interesting mix of articles, ranging from the American campaigns against the Barbary Pirates to the life of an officer stranded ashore in Dorset, taking in many of the major campaigns of the period, and in particular Trafalgar. Includes a splendid selection of illustrations, most memorably those produced by one naval officer to illustrate his career (Read Full Review)
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Casca 41: The Longbowman, Tony Roberts. An atmospheric retelling of the Agincourt campaign, mainly looking at it from the level of a group of archers in a minor retinue, so away from the main decision makers. Takes us through the mud and confusion of a Medieval campaign, with all of its disease and confusion, and gives a good idea of how it must have felt for the common soldiers as Henry V’s army attempted to escape from far more numerous French forces. A strong entry in this long running series(Read Full Review)
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Panzer IV 1939-1945, Paul Thomas. A mix of a history of the Panzer IV and a modelling guide, combined with an excellent selection of photographs of the tank, showing the many variants produced and their identification features. A good introduction to the topic, with an especially good selection of well captioned photographs (Read Full Review)
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16 February 2020

Whitehaven in the Great War, Ruth Mansergh. Looks at the impact of the war on Whitehaven and the surrounding area, including the one German attack on the area, the exploits of the area’s winners of the Victoria Cross, the impact on industry, the location of the many war memorials in the area, the impact of Belgian refuges, and a wide range of other topics(Read Full Review)
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Admiral Albert Hastings Markham – A Victorian Tale of Triumph, Tragedy & Exploration, Frank Jastrzembski. A biography of a Victorian admiral most famous for his part in the disastrous lost of HMS Victoria in 1893, but who deserves to be better known for his role in Arctic exploration, and the general adventurousness  of his life! This saw him serve in Chinese waters, the South Seas, and reach the furthest point north yet achieved by explorers(Read Full Review)
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Bren Gun Carrier – Britain’s Universal War Machine, Robert Jackson. A look at one of the most numerous tracked vehicles in British service during the Second World War, originally designed to carry machine guns to the location where they were needed, but soon adapted to fulfil a much wider range of functions. Found wherever British and Commonwealth forces fought during the Second World War, this was one of the most flexibly vehicles in British service (Read Full Review)
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9 February 2020

Lost Heirs of the Medieval Crown – The Kings and Queens who Never Were, J.F. Andrews. An unusual but interesting choice of topic, looking at all of those people who could reasonably expect to have inherited the throne of England, but for whatever reason either didn’t survive to take the throne,  or were usurped by someone with a worse claim but more determination, luck or support. Starts with the sons of William the Conqueror and ends with the career of Richard III, a king involved with two of these lost heirs(Read Full Review)
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SS: Roll of Infamy - A Biographical Guide to Leading Members of the SS, Christopher Ailsby. Brings together biographies of SS members from every branch of that vast, appalling organisation, from the staff of the extermination camps to the many war criminals of the Waffen-SS. Demonstrates the dreadful scale of the atrocities committed by the SS, from the extermination camps to the murder of civilians across occupied Europe or of POWs on every front (Read Full Review)
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The Royal Navy in the Napoleonic Age – Senior Service, 1800-1815, Mark Jessop. An unusual approach to naval history, with each chapter built around fictional individuals who experiences shine a light on a particular aspect of the war. Covers the period from 1801 to the end of the war, so including the piece of Amiens, the victory at Trafalgar and the long years of blockade that followed, with a focus on the impact of the war on Plymouth and what became Devonport (Read Full Review)
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2 February 2020

Roman Emperor Zeno, Peter Crawford. A biography of the Eastern Roman Emperor most famous for being on the throne when the last western Emperor was deposed, but who managed to maintain his own position despite facing a wide range of internal and external opponents. Looks at his background, his rise to power, his difficult reign, his achievements, his rather negative later reputation, and if it was genuinely deserved (Read Full Review)
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Walcheren to Waterloo - The British Army in the Low Countries during the French Revolutionary & Napoleonic Wars 1793-1815, Andrew Limm. A good history of the unsuccessful British campaigns in the Low Countries between 1793 and 1814, looking in detail at how each army was organised and led, and examining the reasons for their general lack of success. Less convincing when looking at the idea of a transformation of the British military, although this does provide a different viewpoint of these campaigns (Read Full Review)
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Steel Wall at Arnhem - The Destruction of 4 Parachute Brigade, 19 September 1944, David Truesdale. A detailed account of the part played by the 4th Parachute Brigade in the fighting at Arnhem – their arrival on the second day, their failed attempt to break through the German defensive line between the bridge and the landing grounds and the prolonged defence of the Division position at Oosterbeek. A very detailed account of the Brigade’s activities, focusing on the entire battle, not just the events of 19 September(Read Full Review)
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26 January 2020

C-130 Hercules - A History, Martin W. Bowman. A look at the impressive career of the C-130 Hercules, one of the most successful military aircraft of all time, cover its six decades of service with the US military, as well its service with Australian, New Zealand and Great Britain, its use as a straightforward transport, as a gunship and in all sorts of specialist roles. A very readable account of the exploits of this remarkable aircraft and its crews (Read Full Review)
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Balloons and Airships – A Tale of Lighter Than Air Aviation, Anthony Burton. A rather fun look at the history of lighter than air aviation, going all the way from the earliest experiments with manned balloons, through the early 20th century heyday of the airship and finishing with today’s leasure ballooning and some of the attempts to revive the airship. A fascinating look at the brave pioneers of air flight, and the impact they had on the world. Also includes a look at the balloon at war – in the Franco-Prussian War and American Civil War and the use of the airship during the First World War(Read Full Review)
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Luftwaffe Training Aircraft – The Training of Germany’s Pilots and Aircrew through rare archive photographs, Chris Goss. A comprehensive photographic study of the many types of aircraft used to train the Luftwaffe during the Second World War. Good quality pictures and useful captions, but could have done with brief introductions to each aircraft. A good selection of photographs covering a wide range of aircraft, with useful individual captions (Read Full Review)
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19 January 2020

Carthage’s Other Wars, Dexter Hoyos. Looks at Carthage’s ‘other’ wars, their repeated conflicts against the Greeks of Sicily, the struggles to maintain their position in Africa and the late conquest of Spain. The nature of the surviving sources mean that most of the material covers the wars against the Greeks of Sicily, whose accounts of the fighting have survived, but there is also good material on the wars in North Africa and Spain. Written by an established expert on Carthage, the military narratives are supported by an excellent understanding of the city’s politics(Read Full Review)
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French Armoured Cruisers 1887-1932, John Jordan and Philippe Caresse. Looks at a group of ships that when first built posed a real threat to Britain’s naval lines of communication, but that have been largely forgotten because they were seen as badly outdated by the outbreak of the First World War. Includes a great deal of detail of the often complex design process, and some of the best plans of warships I’ve seen. An excellent study of some of the most powerful warships of their time(Read Full Review)
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Foundations of an African Civilisation - Aksum and the Northern Horn 1000 BC-AD 1300, David W. Phillipson. Focuses on the Kingdom of Aksum, a major civilisation that thrived in the northern Horn of Africa, with material on the long period before it emerged and the dynasty that followed. A detailed academic study of the kingdom most famous for introducing Christianity to Ethiopia and the earlier rock cut churches, focusing largely on the archaeological evidence. Aksum emerges as a fascinating civilisation, capable of producing some impressive monuments and supporting a sizable population in the area around its capital (Read Full Review)
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