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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 1,812 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.

Recent Reviews

Click for full list of recent reviews

No Moon as Witness, - Missions of the SOE and OSS in World War II, James Stejskal. A nice mix of a history of the SOE and OSS, allowing to compare these two fairly similar British and American organisations, and see how they interacted, as well as looking at their individual histories, training systems and operations. Greatly benefits from covering both organisations, and from selecting a number of less familiar agents and operations, so we get a broader picture of the two organisation’s operations than is often the case(Read Full Review)
SOE: Churchill's Secret Agents, Terry Crowdy. A short history of SOE, starting with a look at its formation, organisation, the famous training regime, before spending the second half looking at SOE’s actual operations. A good introduction to the work of SOE, with a nice mix of familiar and unfamiliar operations, along with a big enough introduction to get a feel for the nature of the organisation. Good for the casual reader who doesn’t have any real prior knowledge of SOE and its operations(Read Full Review)
Spitfire Aces of the Channel Front 1941-43, Andrew Thomas. Covers the costly three years of ‘leaning over France’, where Fighter Command attempted to dominate the air over France but suffered persistent losses, including many aces and experienced leaders. Mostly filled with short accounts of each day’s fighting, focuses on the experiences of the aces, with some longer descriptions built around eyewitness accounts from the participants. Also has a useful introduction and sections on general changes to the campaign, especially the arrival of new aircraft models on both sides(Read Full Review)
Remembrance Poems and Readings, David Roberts. An impressive collections of poems, essays and speeches on the nature of war and the nature of remembrance, with a mix of items that would be of use at remembrance events and some that perhaps wouldn’t work if read out by anyone other than the author are still useful as thought provoking items for the reader. Includes works from the middle ages up to the modern world, with as you might expect a great many inspired by the two World Wars, but also more modern conflicts and just general thoughts on the nature and cost of war(Read Full Review)
Ford M8 and M20 – The US Army’s Standard Armoured Car of WWII, David Doyle. A pictorial history of the M8 armoured car and M20 utility vehicle, both of which saw service in Italy, Normandy and north-western Europe and to a lesser extent in the Pacific. Very good material on the development of the vehicle, and close up pictures of development and test vehicles as well as modern survivors, along with a useful chapter of pictures of the vehicle in service. Probably aimed more at the modeller than the historian, and will provide many useful details of otherwise hard to examine areas (Read Full Review)
Yokosuka D4Y ‘Judy’ Units, Mark Chambers with Tony Holmes. A well written look at the operational history of a dive bomber that arrived too late to be truly effective as a carrier based dive bomber, and that suffered heavy losses during the battle of the Philippine Sea, before spending the rest of the war as a land based bomber, achieving limited success in both the conventional and kamikaze roles. (Read Full Review)
Dornier Do 217 Units of World War 2, Chris Goss. Actually a chronologically organised operational history of the Do 217, with the main focus being on its use as a bomber over Britain and as an anti-shipping weapon using the first guided missiles. The result is an interesting look at the record of a bomber that entered service after the Luftwaffe’s bomber forces had passed their peak, and that suffered consistent losses during operations that often don’t get a mention in general histories of the war(Read Full Review)
SA80 Assault Rifles, Neil Grant. A look at the original development, service record and repeated attempts to improve one of the most controversial series of infantry weapons to enter British service, with a deserved reputation for being unreliable and dangerously prone to jamming that eventually required a major rebuilding program to fix. As this book demonstrates, that modified version had turned into a perfectly reliable weapon, apparently popular with its users and one that will remain in service for some years to come (Read Full Review)
Pioneers of Armour in the Great War, David A. Finlayson & Michael K. Cecil. Based around an account of the history of the First Australian Armoured Car Section/ First Australian Light Car Patrol written by the unit’s commander Captain E.H. James soon after the war, supported by newspaper extracts and letters from the period, tracing the unit from its origins as a volunteer unit in Australia, to the western desert of Egypt then through its role in the campaign in Palestine and Syria. Followed by a shorter account of the first tank to reach Australia, a Mark IV that was sent to help with fundraising before ending up in the Australian War Memorial. A fascinating account of the use of mainly entirely un-armoured cars in the desert during the First World War, in a unit that reminds one of the LRDG and SAS(Read Full Review)
The Luftwaffe and the War at Sea 1939-1945, ed. David Isby. Looks at the rivalry between the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe over control of all air activities over the sea, with both sides attempting to claim the right to control all aircraft operating over the sea and coastal areas, a battle very easily won by Goering’s Luftwaffe, and how that battle impacted on German naval activities and the battle of the Atlantic. Both sides come across as somewhat delusional, making unjustifiable claims, and showing the entirely typical desire of the Third Reich’s armed forces of finding someone else to blame for their failures (Read Full Review)
The Americans and Germans at Bastogne – First-Hand Accounts of the Commanders who Fought, Gary Sterne. A look at the siege of Bastogne as seen by a range of the American and German commanders involved in the battle, giving us an idea of just how differently the two sides saw the battle as it was evolving. On occasions it perhaps tells us more about who various German commanders wanted to blame for their failures (never themselves), but even so we still get some valuable insights into how they saw the battle, including a constant belief that the Americans were attempting to break out, and how late into the battle it was before the Germans believed that Bastogne was actually cut off (Read Full Review)
Rome, Blood and Power – Reform, Murder and Popular Politics in the Late Republic 70-27 BC, Gareth C. Sampson. Looks at one of the most familiar periods in Roman history, but with a focus on the various attempts to reform the Republic to make it more stable, all of which failed until Augustus realised that the trick was to take control without actually looking like you were changing anything. An interesting approach that helps to explain why a series of apparently dominant figures, from Marius and Sulla to Pompey and Caesar proved unable to maintain their power once they had seized it by focusing on the details of the politics of the city of Rome herself (Read Full Review)
Japanese Armies 1868-1877 – The Boshin War and Satsuma Rebellion, Gabriele Esposito. Looks at the armies of the two wars that saw the Japanese Shogunate overthrown by pro-Imperial, anti-Foreign forces, who were then in turn defeated by the westernised forces of the newly restored Emperor. As a result we see two wars in which medieval samurai could be found fighting alongside and against modern Westernised infantry, making this one of the most varied examples of a Men-at-Arms you will ever find! (Read Full Review)
USS Enterprise (CV-6), David Doyle. A splendid pictorial history of USS Enterprise, with an impressive selection of photographs that trace her from construction to scrapping, along with all of her combat experiences. This is an impressive collection of photographs, allowing us to see every aspect of her career, including her fairly extensive battle damage, as well as a good selection of detailed photographs of individual aspects of parts of the ship(Read Full Review)
The Light Division in the Peninsular War 1811-1814, Tim Saunders and Rob Yuill. Part two of this history of the Light Division covers the largely victorious final four years of the war, and covers the siege of Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz, the battles of Salamanca, Vitoria and the Pyrenees and the invasion of France. A well written text, all supported plentiful extracts from contemporary diaries, largely covering the period after the death of the division’s most famous and succesful commander, General Craufurd.(Read Full Review)
The Eastern Fleet and the Indian Ocean 1942-1944, Charles Stephenson. Looks at the difficult war experienced by the British Eastern Fleet, which was outclassed by the Japanese in 1942, largely hollowed out to help other fleets in 1943 and was only able to go back onto the offensive in 1944, once the Japanese navy had been largely neutralised by the US Navy in the Pacific. Makes a good argument that the poor quality of Fleet Air Arm aircraft in 1942 combined with the lack of any real doctrine for using large carrier air groups would have given the Japanese an advantage even against the full Britist fleet, but also argues that the Navy and in particular Admiral Somerville, actually did rather well in these difficult circumstances (Read Full Review)
Caesar’s Great Success – Sustaining the Roman Army on Campaign, Alexander Merrow, Agostino Von Hassell & Greagory Starace. Looks at the role of logistics in Caesar’s military campaigns, as well as the food eaten by the Roman army, the concepts behind modern logistics and how they might apply to Caesar’s campaign in Gaul in particular, and how well Caesar performed in the task of keeping his armies supplied. An interesting approach to Caesar’s campaigns, helped greatly by the amount of attention he gave it in his own writing, combined with an intelligent look at how other elements of the campaigns must have been guided by the need for supplies. Also comes with some fun Roman recipies to try out(Read Full Review)
They Shall Not Pass - the French Army on the Western Front 1914-1918, Ian Sumner. Built around an impressive array of first hand accounts from veterans of the French Army on the Western Front, combined with a history of the French contribution to the fighting, which for most of the war was the most significant part of the Allied war effort in the west, and allowing us to trace how the original enthusiasm slowly disappeared, largely to be replaced by a mix of determination and cynicism. A very useful addition to the English language literature on the war, giving us a better understanding of the massive French contribution to the eventual Allied victory. (Read Full Review)
The Price of Victory - The Red Army's Casualties in the Great Patriotic War, Lev Lopukhovsky & Boris Kavalerchik. Looks at the various attempts to produce ‘official’ figures for the Soviet casualties during the Second World War, arguing that they are all deeply flawed, underestimate the number of casualties and are largely politically motiviated. The authors also attempt to produce their own figures, using many of the same sources as their opponents, but coming up with a much higher figure. The resulting book is somewhat hard going, as its partly based around a detailed analysis of statistics and partly around an argument with the authors of the official work, but does make a convincing case.(Read Full Review)
The Avro Type 698 Vulcan Design and Development, David W. Fildes. A look at the design and development of the Vulcan bomber, almost entirely presented using original documents, including material from AVRO, the Air Minstry, RAE, RAF and other interested parties. We look at the original idea that developed into the Vulcan, the design and construction of small scale test aircraft and the first prototypes, and the ongoing development process that turned the prototypes into a satisfactory service aircraft, then kept updating it, first in an attempt to improve its high altitude performance, then to make it more suited for the new low level role. The heavy use of contemporary documents makes it quite a dry read in places, but also makes the book of great value if you are interested in the process of aircraft design. (Read Full Review)
Rome & Parthia: Empires at War: Ventidus, Antony and the Second Romano-Parthian War 40-20 BC, Gareth C. Sampson. Looks at the war that started with a Parthain invasion of Rome’s eastern provinces after the victory of the triumvirs at Philippi and that saw both sides carry out unsuccessful invasions of each others territory during a war that was repeated disrupted by civil wars within both powers. Not the best known of Romans wars from this period, and rather over-shadowded by the rivaly between Octavian and Antony, but still an interesting conflict and one that demonstrates the problems faced by the two empires as they expanded towards each other.(Read Full Review)
Battleship Bismarck – A Design and Operational History, William Garzke Jr, Robert O Dulin Jr and William Jurens, with James Cameron. The most detailed book on a single ship I’ve ever read, covering the entire history of German capital ship design after the First World War, their service records before the Bismarck’s fatal cruise, followed by a massively detailed account of the Bismarck’s one war cruise, including the battle of the Denmark Strait and the final sinking of the Bismarck, covering just about every shot fired by every ship, every bit of damage suffered by the Bismarck, all supported by evidence from the German survivors, British eyewitnesses and the dives to the wreck(Read Full Review)
A Waste of Blood & Treasure - The 1799 Anglo-Russian Invasion of the Netherlands, Philip Ball. A look at one of the least succesful British campaigns of the Revolutionary Wars, the Anglo-Russian attempt to free the Netherlands from French control that ended with a negotiated retreat, largely on French terms, after three costly battles fought in difficult terrain close to the Dutch coast. Looks at the reasons for the failure of the expedition, as well as providing a detailed narrative of the fairly short campaign. A good study of this brief but disasterous Anglo-Russian campaign (Read Full Review)
Siege Warfare during the Hundred Years War – Once More into the Breach, Peter Hoskins. Looks at the vast array of sieges of castles and towns during the Hundred Years War, a war most famous for a handful of English battlefield victories, but that was dominated by the siege, from Calais to Orleans. Looks at the nature of fortifications, how sieges were conducted (and how that changed during this period), and the rise of gunpowder artillery, and in particular the impressive French royal siege train, which helped blast away the English positions in Normandy and Aquitaine in surprisingly short period at the end of the war. (Read Full Review)
Objective Falaise - 8 August 1944-16 August 1944, Georges Bernage. Looks at the two largely Canadian attacks, Operations Totalize and Tractable, that were launched to capture Falaise and help close the Falaise gap from the north. A good account of these two battles, with plenty of eye witness accounts from both sides to support the narrative of these two rather different battles, all supported by an impressive array of photographs and maps, tracing how the Canadians slowly pushed back the Germans. (Read Full Review)
The Wars of Alexander’s Successors 323-281 BC: Volume I: Commanders & Campaigns, Bob Bennett & Mike Roberts. The first part of a study of the wars of Alexander’s Successors, concentrating on the individual commanders, their overall careers and their campaigns, leaving the details of their battles for part two. An interesting approach, with some chapters covering the entire group during key events and others focusing on the career of one successor at a time. Looks at a forty year period of near constant warfare, involving some remarkable, ambitious characters, none of whom were quite able to ever reunite Alexander’s empire.(Read Full Review)
Images of War - China & Japan at War 1937-1945, Philip Jowett. A look at the long brutal war between China and Japan, with a good range of pictures from both sides, covering the entire course of the war from the initial incidents in the north of China, through the brutal battles that destroyed the better part of the Nationalist army and through the long brutal years of Japanese occupation on to the eventual Allied victory. A well chosen selection of pictures, supported by good captions and a useful introduction to the course of the war. (Read Full Review)
Sydney Camm – Hurricane and Harrier Designer – Saviour of Britain, John Sweetman. A useful biography of Sydney Camm, the chief design at Hawker during their period of dominance in the 1930s and into the jet age, but who is most famous for the Hawker Hurricane, the most numerous British fighter during the Battle of Britain. Camm comes across as a somewhat divisive figure in the workplace, with an abrasive management style, but also someone who could be won over by a good argument, and with a impressive grasp of the technical aspects of aircraft design, at least until the post-war jet age (Read Full Review)
Great Naval Battles of the Ancient Greek World, Owen Rees. A look at a selection of the most important naval battles from the heyday of Classical Greece, covering the Persian Wars, the Great Peloponnesian War and the Corinthian War, a period dominated by the rise, fall, and partial rise of Athenian naval power. Demonstrates nicely the importance of naval power in all of these wars, as well as the wide variety of naval tactics in use during this period, with some decided by skilful seamanship and the ram, others by boarding actions, while some were effectively won before the first blow was struck (Read Full Review)

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