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 1,191 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.
Brutus - Caesar's Assassin, Kirsty Corrigan. A well balanced biography of Brutus, one of the more consistent defenders of the Roman Republic, and famously one of Caesar's assassins on the Ides of March. Paints a picture of a man of generally high moral standards (with some flaws in financial matters), but also an over-optimistic plotter, who failed to make any realistic plans for the aftermath of the assassination. Does a good job of tracing Brutus's fairly obscure early years, as well as distinguishing between later legends and historically likely events [read full review]
Stout Hearts: The British and Canadians in Normandy 1944, Ben Kite. Looks in detail at the role of each element in the British and Canadian military machine during the Normandy Campaign, including each aspect of the ground forces from the infantry to the armour, intelligence, reconnaissance and medical services, as well as the air support and the fire power provided by the massive Allied fleets off the Normandy coast. A very useful companion to narrative accounts of the campaign, helping to explain how the British and Canadians managed to overcome the determined German resistance on their front [read full review]
British and German Battlecruisers - Their Development and Operations, Michele Cosentino & Ruggero Stanglini. A useful volume that covers the development, design and construction of British and German battlecruisers, their wartime deployments and both side's plans for the next generation of battlecruisers, of which only HMS Hood was ever completed. Having all of this material in a single volume gives a much better overview of the two Navy's battlecruisers, their advantages and flaws, and their performance in and out of battle. Concludes with a look at other nation's battlecruisers and battlecruiser designs [read full review]
US Navy Carrier Aircraft vs IJN Yamato Class Battleships, Pacific Theatre 1944-45, Mark Stille. Looks at the two battles that resulted in the sinking of Yamato and Musashi, the two most powerful battleships ever completed, and the US aircraft, weapons and tactics that sank them. Interesting to bring together all of the relevant technical histories – the ships themselves, Japanese anti-aircraft guns, the US aircraft and their main weapons – in a single volume, followed by detailed accounts of the air attacks that sank the two battleships [read full review]
Sailors on the Rocks - Famous Royal Navy Shipwrecks, Peter C. Smith. Looks at a long series of Royal Naval shipwrecks, from the loss of HMS Coronation in 1691 to the grounding of HMS Nottingham in 2002. Covers the background histories of the ships involved, their actions in the period before their loss, the lead-up to the loss, the rescue attempts and the aftermath of the loss. An interesting book that covers a great deal of ground [read full review]
Alesia - The Final Struggle for Gaul, Nic Fields. A useful history of the siege and associated battles that secured Caesar's conquest of Gaul and ended Vercingetorix's revolt, the first (and only) time that the Gallic tribes united against Caesar. Starts with a history of Vercingetorix's revolt and the earlier failed siege of Gergova, before moving onto the climatic siege of Alesia, the massive Gallic relief effort and its defeat by Caesar. A good account of this siege, supported by excellent maps showing the besieged town and its surroundings. [read full review]
Critical Convoy Battles of WWII - Crisis in the North Atlantic, March 1943, Jurgen Rohwer. Focuses on the successful U-boat attacks on convoys HX.229 and SC.122, looking at how earlier convoys were able to avoid attack, why those particular convoys were hit so hard, the methods being used by both sides, and their impact on the longer term result of the Battle of the Atlantic. A useful study, despite its age (first published in 1977), in particular because of its focus on the successful German attacks of March 1943, which thus get the attention they deserve rather than being seen as a precursor to the Allied victories later in the summer. [read full review]
The Great Siege of Malta - The Epic Battle between the Ottoman Empire and the Knights of St. John, Bruce Ware Allen. Looks at one of the pivotal conflicts of the Sixteenth Century, when a massive Ottoman army attempted to capture Malta, then the main base for the Knights of St. John. This excellent history traces events from the earlier siege of Rhodes, where the Knights were defeated, through the intervening years of intermittent conflict, and on to the Great Siege itself, covering both the fighting on Malta and the attempts to raise the siege [read full review]
By the Knife, Steve Partridge . A historical novel set largely at sea in the middle of the eighteenth century, following two intertwined lives from their formative years in England, to their repeated encounters across the oceans. Written across a very broad canvas, from the Caribbean to the west coast of Africa, Britain to the Mediterranean, and with a good feel for the naval warfare and general lawlessness of the period. [read full review]
Bayonets for Hire - Mercenaries at War, 1550-1789, William Urban. A history of warfare that covers the period of the European Wars of Religion, the wars of Louis XIV and the near constant conflicts of the Eighteenth Century, with a general focus on the role of the mercenary, although with a fairly broad definition that includes the multinational officer corps of the period. A useful book that includes the less familiar conflicts in Eastern Europe as well as the more familiar conflicts in Western Europe [read full review]
Long Range Desert Group - Behind Enemy Lines on North Africa, W.B. Kennedy Shaw. A thrilling history of the Long Range Desert Group, one of the most famous of the many Special Forces that popped up in the British Army in the Middle East during the Second World War, although it is often seen in the background of other stories. Written in 1943 by the Group's Intelligence Officer, this book brings the exploits of the LRDG to life, and brings it into a justified foreground position. [read full review]
Wellington against Soult - The Second Invasion of Portugal, 1809, David Buttery. Looks at the second French invasion of Portugal, which saw Marshal Soult occupy parts of northern Portugal, invading from the north and capturing Oporto, before being expelled from the country by Wellesley, at the start of his second spell of command in Iberia. This is a readable account of one of Wellesley's most aggressive campaigns, including a surprisingly risky river crossing that helped force Soult to begin his retreat. [read full review]
Rome Seizes the Trident - The Defeat of Carthaginian Seapower & the Forging of the Roman Empire, Marc G. Desantis. Looks at the way in which Rome seized control of the western Mediterranean from the long established naval power of Carthage, and then maintained that power for the rest of the Punic Wars, as well as tracing the impact of Roman naval power on the wider course of the conflict. Also asks why Carthage was unable to respond to the Roman naval challenge, rarely winning a naval battle during the First Punic War and not mounting a serious challenge at all during the Second [read full review]
Tobruk Commando - The Raid to Destroy Rommel's Base, Gordon Landsborough. An early history of Operation Agreement (first published in 1956), one of the more disastrous British Special Operations of the Second War, which evolved from a simple raid on Tobruk into a full scale combined operations attempt to temporarily capture and destroy the port. Mainly follows the mission from the point of view of the special forces groups operating on land and the commanders of the warships [read full review]
The Barbary Pirates 15th-17th Centuries, Angus Konstam. Looks at the high point for the Barbary Pirates, a mix of corsairs, privateers and slavers based along the Barbary Coast of North Africa, and whose raids at their most daring reached as far as Iceland! Covers the Barbary Coast and its main ports, the types of ships they used, their crews and commanders and their methods of operations. Gives a good idea of the motivation and reasons for success of the infamous Barbary Corsairs. [read full review]