Here we offer a selection of our favourite books on military history. Some are the books we have used as sources for this site, some are good introductions to their subjects and others are interesting oddities.
We also have a selection of 1,164 longer book reviews.
All links on this site go straight to the relevant Amazon web site (currently we link to the UK, US and Canadian sites), where you can place orders for any of the books listed here.
The Coward? The Rise and Fall of the Silver King, Steve R. Dunn. A look at the life and mistakes of Admiral Ernest Troubridge, a British admiral best known for his failure to intercept the Goeben in the Mediterranean at the start of the First World War. The aim is to try and work out why Troubridge acted as he did in 1914, examining the late Victorian and Edwardian navy, his own career and decisions he made elsewhere in his life to try and work out what made him tick [read full review]
Operation Oyster: World War II's Forgotten Raid, Kees Rijken, Paul Schepers, Arthur Thorning. Looks at a complex low level raid on the Philips Radio Works at Eindhoven, carried out in daylight by a mixed force of Mosquitos, Venturas and Bostons. Covers the full range of the mission, from the original reasons for the attack, the planning, the mission itself, losses on both sides, the damage done to the factory and the civilian casualties in Eindhoven [read full review]
SS-Leibstandarte: The History of the First SS Division, 1933-45, Rupert Butler. Looks at the history of the Leibstandarte, Hitler's bodyguard and later the first SS Division. The Leibstandarte gained an impressive military reputation (after a ropey start), but also committed war crimes on almost every front it served, including mass murder in the east, the murder of British and French POWs in 1940 and US POWs in 1944, and of villagers in Italy [read full review]
Hitler's Swedes, A History of the Swedish Volunteers in the Waffen-SS, Lars T. Larsson. A detailed study of the motives and experiences of the comparatively small number of Swedes who volunteered for service with the Waffen SS during the Second World War, a group of just under 200 men, most of whom ended up fighting on the Eastern Front. Covers the stories of 144 of them in some detail, providing both a snapshot of the experiences of the SS on the Eastern Front, and an insight into why anyone from a safely neutral country would volunteer for the SS [read full review]
In Hospital and in Camp - The Civil War through the eyes of its Doctors and Nurses, Harold Elk Straubing. A selection of ten accounts of the medical services during the American Civil War, produced by a mix of doctors and nurses, mainly from the Union side. Includes diaries, letters and narrative accounts, and ends with some of Walt Whitmann's poems. Varies in tone from gruesome medical detail to Victorian sentimentality. [read full review]
Imperial Chinese Armies, 1840-1911, Philip S. Jowett. Looks at a period of somewhat chaotic and ultimately unsuccessful reform in the Chinese armies, which still saw a dramatic transformation from armies that would have been familiar to the original Manchu emperors to a recognisably modern, if somewhat chaotic army. As a result the book covers an unusually wide range of troop types, from bowmen to machine gunners! You'll probably struggle to find an Osprey that covers as much change and variety in such a short period [read full review]
Fall of the Double Eagle - The Battle for Galicia and the Demise of Austria-Hungary, John R. Schindler. Looks at the opening clashes between Russia and Austria-Hungary on the Eastern Front of the First World War, some of the biggest battles of 1914, and a series of defeats that played a major part in the decline and fall of the Hapsburg Empire, destroying the pre-war Regular army that had been one of the strongest props of the Hapsburg realm and giving the Russians a rare clear-cut victory [read full review]
Victoria Crosses on the Western Front: August 1914 - April 1915, Mons to Hill 60, Paul Oldfield. Covers those VCs won between the outbreak of the First World War and April 1915, using an unusual (and very successful) format, with a narrative of the combat operations involved filling the first half of the book and individual biographies of the VC winners in the second half. Covers the first 59 Victoria Crosses to be won on the Western Front, so is able to include far more detail than in more general books [read full review]
Death of an Empire - The Rise and Murderous Fall of Salem, America's Richest City, Robert Booth. Looks at the decline and fall of the wealthy merchant port of Salem, a city that became rich through International Trade, in particular during the long Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, but then like other American ports suffered from the self inflicted wounds of the War of 1812 and the tariffs that followed, before eventually murder and scandal finished off the ports decline. Not directly military history, but a fascinating story, and one that is related to the events of the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812 [read full review]
Rome Spreads Her Wings - Territorial Expansion between the Punic Wars, Gareth C. Sampson. Focuses on Rome's other wars in the period of the first two Punic Wars, including the first expansion east across the Adriatic into Greece and the Balkans and the conquest of Gallic northern Italy. This is a difficult period, with limited sources as ancient authors either concentrated on the more glamorous wars against Carthage, or have been lost to us. Sampson does a good job of guiding us through the difficult sources for this period, often providing alternative versions of key events, complete with their supporting sources. A useful book that helps fill a gap in the military history of Rome [read full review]
VCs of the North - Cumbria, Durham and Northumberland, Alan Whitworth. Looks at just under fifty winners of the Victoria Cross associated with the northern counties of Cumbria, Durham and Northumberland, covering the entire history of the award. The small number of recipients covered allows the author to include a great deal more background information than is normally the case in books on the V.C., allowing us to trace the impact of winning the V.C. on its recipients. Also allows the inclusion of many eyewitness accounts of the deeds themselves [read full review]
No Room for Mistakes - British and Allied Submarine Warfare 1939-1940, Geirr H Haarr. An excellent detailed history of Allied submarine warfare during the first sixteen months of the Second World War, a period of dramatic changes in the situation at sea, in which the British submarine service had to find a suitable role and absorb heavy losses, while coping with the Norwegian campaign and the sudden expansion of their duties after the Fall of France. [read full review]
Roman Military Disasters - Dark Days and Lost Legions, Paul Chrystal. Looks at Rome's military defeats, from the earliest wars within the Italian peninsula, through the great wars of expansion and the defence of the Empire, to the disasters of the fifth century and the first two sacks of Rome since the Celts almost at the start of Roman history. A useful book, although it does sometimes lose its focus a little, and in sections is more of a general military history of Rome [read full review]
Triumph & Disasters - Eyewitness Accounts of the Netherlands Campaign 1813-1814, Andrew Bamford. Six eyewitness accounts of the British campaign in the Netherlands in 1813-1814, best known for the disastrous attack on Bergen-op-Zoom. The fairly vacuous diary of a young Guards officer will probably stick longest in the mind, but all six sources are of value for gaining an understanding of this campaign, and of the British military experience during the Napoleonic Wars, covering a wide range of topics from the pleasures of the hunt to the humiliation of being a prisoner [read full review]
The Sailing Frigate - A History in Ship Models, Robert Gardiner. A splendid visual history of the British frigate, based around the collection of scale ship models in the National Maritime Museum. Each change in design is illustrated by a high quality colour photograph of a model, with some key pictures included detailed annotations picking out key features. Also includes a number of special subject spreads, looking at the evolution of features such as bow or stern design. A splendid book, and a very good way of illustrating the development of the sailing frigate [read full review]