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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 2,120 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

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Operation Pedestal 1942, The Battle for Malta’s Lifeline, Angus Konstam. Looks at one of the largest of the many attempts to get supplies through to Malta, a desperate attempt to prevent the island from being forced to surrender and which succeded although at heavy cost in fast merchant ships. Covers the reasons the operation was needed, the complex planning needed to bring together such a large naval force, and then gives a detailed account of the fighting itself, tracing each of the Axis attacks (Read Full Review)
Stalingrad 1942-43 (3) – Catastrophe – the Death of 6th Army, Robert Forczyk. Covers the final act of the battle of Stalingrad, from the start of the Soviet counter-attack, Operation Uranus, to the final German surrender, a period of two and a half months, looking at the initial Soviet attacks on the flanks which cut off the Sixth Army, the battles on the outer side of the pocket, including the German relief efforts and further Soviet attacks, and the brutal battle in the Stalingrad pocket. A good account of one of the most crucial battles of the Second World War (Read Full Review)
D-Day 1944 – The Deadly failure of Allied heavy bombing on June 6, Steven A. Bourque. Looks at the near total failure of the USAAF and RAF attacks on the German coastal defences on D-Day, in which the largest combined air operation of the war missed almost all of its targets, leaving the German beach defences intact on all but Utah beach. Combines a detailed examination of each of the planned attacks with a look at just why they failed to achieve almost all of their objectives (Read Full Review)
Hungarian Soldier versus Soviet Soldier – Eastern Front 1941, Peter Mujzer. Looks at three clashes between the Hungarians and the Red Army during the rapid Axis advance on the southern part of the Eastern Front in the initial campaigns of 1941, before the Hungarians withdrew from the front line. Interesting because of the material on the Hungarians, whose participation in the fighting of 1941 is largely unknown (Read Full Review)
The Balkans 1940-41 (2) – Hitler’s Blitzkreig against Yugoslavia and Greece, Pier Paolo Battistelli. Looks at the German invasion of Yugoslavia and Greece, two rapid but rather different campaigns – in Yugoslavia resistance collapsed within days and without significant fighting, while the short Greek campaign did at least see some solid resistance from the Greeks on the Metaxas Line and a determined fighting retreat by British and Commonweath troops (Read Full Review)
Tanks at the Iron Curtain 1975-90 – The ultimate generation of Cold War heavy armour, Steven J. Zaloga. Looks at the last generation of Cold War tanks, many of which are still in use today (M1A1 Abrams, Challenger II, T-80, Leopard II etc), the generation in which advanced technology such as reactive armour or advanced fire control systems became at least as important as armour thickness or firepower in decided which tank was most effective (Read Full Review)
Tanks in the Battle of Germany 1945 – Eastern Front, Steven J. Zaloga. A look at the tanks, tank hunters and armoured assault guns on the German and Soviet sides of the fighting in 1945, looking at the numbers available, how they were organised, and the tanks themselves. Covers the campaigns where the bulk of German armoured vehicles were deployed during 1945, but despite that were still massively outnumbered by the Red Army, and had lost much of their tactical and technological edge (Read Full Review)
Tanks at the Iron Curtain 1960-75, Steven J. Zaloga. Looks at the first generation of NATO and Warsaw Pact tanks developed after the Second World War, including the German Leopard 1, French AMX30, British Chieftain, American M60 and Soviet T-62 and T-64 as well as projects that never reached production and the first missile tanks, a technology that was expected to replace the gun tank but didn’t live up to expectations (Read Full Review)
Berezina 1812 – Napoleon’s Hollow Victory, Alexander Mikaberidze. Looks at the last relative French success of the Russian campaign of 1812, when a combination of Russian mistakes and hard fighting by the French and their allies allowed some of the survivors of Napoleon’s Grand Armee to cross the Berezina River, despite being hunted by much larger Russian forces. Good coverage of the build-up to battle, looking at the disjointed Russian pursuit of Napoleon, the reasons their attempt to trap him at the Berezina failed, as well as the French efforts to escape from the trap (Read Full Review)
Athenian Trireme vs Persian Trireme – The Graeco-Persian Wars 499-449 BC, Nic Fields. Combines a detailed examination of the triremes of this period with an account of four of the main battles – Lade, Artemisia, Salamis and Eurymedon. Benefits from focusing on the actual triremes, looking at how they were built, their design (with more differences between types of trireme than you might think), how they were manned and how their condition might affect their effectiveness in battle, before moving on to look at the four battles (Read Full Review)
The US Marine Corps 1775-1859 – Continental and United States Marines, Ron Field. Combines a history of the Continental Marines and pre Civil War US Marine Corps with a look at their changing uniforms, arms and equipment, during a period that saw them evolve from a purely ship-borne force into an organisation capable of making a major contribution during the Mexican-American War, and of being called on to deal with John Brown’s attack on Harper’s Ferry (Read Full Review)
US Navy Protected Cruisers 1883-1918, Brian Lane Herder. An interesting look at the first steel warships built for what became the Steel Navy or New Navy, a group of largely experimental protected cruisers that were mainly significant for their impact on US industry, but that also played a major role in late 19th American Imperialism, the Spanish-American War and the conquest of the Philippines (Read Full Review)
US Navy Gun Destroyer 1945-88 – Fletcher class to Forrest Sherman class, Mark Stille. Looks at the gun destroyers of the Cold War period, giving brief overviews of their design, weaponry, sensors and service, before moving onto a larger class-by-class examination that gives useful details on how each class was modified, along with tables showing which members of each class got which modification, making it a useful reference work for these ships (Read Full Review)
With Hot Lead and Cold Steel, Arthur van der Ster. An interesting set of American Civil War wargaming rules that focus on using genuine Civil War era formations, manoeuvres and orders to give a more accurate feel for the period. Uses an interesting system where regiments are the individual units but brigades give orders. All units use the same basic set of infantry, artillery and cavalry stats, but with modifiers for green or veteran units, commanders come with their own abilities and flaws, and with plenty of special rules to give a feel of Civil War battles. Aimed at those wanting to recreate genuine Civil War battles with their unbalanced armies and different objectives, rather than allowing for artificially balanced games. (Read Full Review)
2cm Flak 38 Flakvierling 38, Alan Ranger. Excellent selection of photographs looking at the single barrel 2cm Flak 38 and four barrel Flakvierling 38, showing both of these weapons in a wide range of locations, and from multiple angles. A very impressive selection of photographs, mainly from soldier’s private collections, so most of these pictures are unfamiliar and give a more realistic view of how these guns were used than the official photos (Read Full Review)
Polish Vickers E, Adam Jonca. Aimed very firmly at someone wanting to build a model of the Vickers E in Polish service, so has a good selection of photographs and plans of the different versions of the tank, as well as surviving technical drawings, a wartime poster showing different versions and one colour plate showing the standard camouflage scheme. Very useful for the modeller aiming at as accurate as possible a result (Read Full Review)
Lion Rampant Second Edition, Daniel Mersey. An entertaining small scale medieval skirmish game, using a relatively small number of unit types and fairly simple rules (with plenty of optional extras) to cover the millennium from the late Roman world to the high middle ages. Aimed at armies of up to about 70 figures, with an interesting system where different units have different changes to obey orders to attack, move or shoot, and with a nice simple combat system, produces fast moving fun games (Read Full Review)
German High Seas Fleet 1914-18, The Kaiser’s challenge to the Royal Navy, Angus Konstam. Looks at why the Germans chose to build the second most powerful fleet in the world, what sort of ships they filled it with, what its purpose was, and how it performed when war broke out. Paints a picture of a Navy that was equipped with some of the best warships in the world, generally well organised and led (although did suffer from interference from the Kaiser), but that lacked a clear purpose. This was a fleet that could inflict some defeats on the Royal Navy, but never managed to serious challenge British naval dominance (Read Full Review)
Japanese Combined Fleet 1941-42 – The IJN at its zenith, Pearl Harbor to Midway, Mark Stille. Looks at the nature of the Japanese Navy that entered the war at Pearl Harbor – the philosophy behind the design of its ships, the quantity and quality of ships and aircraft available to it, its plans for the war, but also the weaknesses of its intelligence and logistics systems. We then look at the first few months of the war, in which the Japanese achieved a remarkable series of victories, overrunning the Philippines, Malaya, Singapore and the Dutch East Indies, defeating anything the Allies could throw at them, and examine why the Japanese Navy was able to win that series of victories (Read Full Review)
The Red Army 1922-41 – From Civil War to ‘Barbarossa’, Philip Jowett. Covers the period from the end of the bitter Russian Civil War to the disasterous start of Operation Barbarossa, a period of frequent instability but that saw the Red Army expand from its low point just after the Civil War to become an apparently powerful force by the end of the 1930s. First half looks at the size, structure and general status of the Red Army as well as the often quite sizable campaigns it was involved in during this period, as well as the purge that ripped the heart out of its officer corps in the 1930s, second half at the uniforms of the period (Read Full Review)
Bloody April 1917 – The Birth of modern air power, James S. Corum. Looks at the aerial battles of April 1917 from an operational, tactical and strategic level, instead of focusing on individual air battles, thus giving us a much clearer picture of what both sides were attempting to achieve in the air, and why the Germans won an equally impressive victory in the air as they did on the ground. Finishes with a useful look at how the three combatants learnt from the battles of April 1917 (Read Full Review)
The Futile Pursuit of Power – Why Mussolini Executed His Son-in-Law, Andrew Sangster. Focuses on the political career of Galeazzo Ciano, which lasted from his rise to power in 1936 to his execution in 1943 and saw him become Italian Foreign Minister, the youngest in Europe at his appointment, before turning against Italy’s German allies, taking part in the plot that first deposed Mussolini, seeking help from the Germans and ended up executed after a political trial in Mussolini’s northern Italian Fascist State. Paints a picture of a playboy largely unsuited to the job he was given, but who gained some political maturity after it was too late for himself and his country (Read Full Review)
US Destroyers vs German U-Boats – The Atlantic 1941-45, Mark Lardas. Looks at the weapons available on both sides, how their crews were selected and trained, and how the US Navy in particular improved during the years it was involved in the battle of the Atlantic, gaining powerful weapons such as the Hedgehog anti-submarine projector which could be tied directly into the ships sonar. Followed by four examples of combat between US escorts and U-boats, from 1941, 1942, 1944 and 1945, which demonstrate how far the US Navy had come in a short time(Read Full Review)
The Soviet Destruction of Army Group South, Ian Baxter. Looks at the two years of battles that saw the Germans pushed out of Ukraine and southern Poland, ending with the Soviets only a few miles from Berlin. The text provides a good framework to events, with army lists, brief biographies of the key commanders and about twenty pages per major campaign, giving us a useful overview of events, rather than getting too bogged down in details. The text is supported by a plentiful supply of wartime photographs and some useful maps showing the various phases of the Soviet advance (Read Full Review)
The Capture of U-505 – The US Navy’s controversial Enigma raid, Atlantic Ocean 1944, Mark Lardas. Looks at the US capture of U-505, raid that was both daring and carefully planned, and succeeded both because of those factors and because of German failings and luck. Controversial because it risked triggering a change of German codes, but also valuable because of the haul of intelligence material captured on the U-boat. Excellent material from both sides, giving us a picture of the increasingly desperate situation faced by the U-boats and the impressive work by Captain Daniel Gallery and the men of TG 22.3 (Read Full Review)
British Light Infantryman versus Patriot Rifleman, Robbie MacNiven. Looks at the famous Patriot riflemen and their nearest British equivalent, the Light Infantry, covering their equipment, training, tactics in battle and their relative strengths and weaknesses, before looking at three occasions where the two troop types fought each other directly in significant numbers. Provides a realistic idea of the relative effectiveness of the two troop types, and shows that the American riflemen was a valuable part of the rebel forces, if not quite the war winning weapon many had expected (Read Full Review)
British Cavalryman vs German Cavalryman – Belgium and France 1914, Alan Steele. Looks at the brief month at the start of the First World War where British and German cavalry forces were involved in a series of clashes that lived up to pre-war expectations, and wouldn’t have looked far out of place in the Napoleonic period, with clashes between scouting squadrons of cavalry and cavalry screens protecting open flanks (Read Full Review)
Tanks in Operation Bagration 1944 – The demolition of Army Group Center, Steven J. Zaloga. A useful study of the balance of the armoured forces on the Eastern Front during the main Soviet offensives of the summer of 1944, showing that the Soviets had caught up with the Germans in the quality of their tanks, outnumbered them, and were catching up in tactical skill, as well as catching the Germans by surprise with their choice of target, all building towards one of the most significant Soviet victories of the war (Read Full Review)
Soviet Machine Guns of World War II, Chris McNab. Looks at the main Soviet Light, Medium and Heavy Machine Guns of the Second World War, showing them to be capable if unexceptional weapons that had the great advantage of being produced in very large numbers. Contains excellent information on the doctrine for how these guns were used, the roles of the gun crews as well as the technical details, making this one of the best books of its type (Read Full Review)
Post-Roman Kingdoms – ‘Dark Ages’ Gaul & Britain, AD 450-800, Raffaele D’Amato & Andrea Salimbeti. Looks at the lingering remants of the Roman world in post-Roman Britain and Gaul, a range of new kingdoms emerging from the Romano-British and Gauls and the shattered remnants of Roman power in Gaul. Strongest on the arms and equipment and organisation of the forces, but sometimes fails to acknowledge how shaky our knowledge of some of the possible kingdoms and individuals probably involved in this period actually is. An interesting reminder of how important the Roman world remained after the Legions left (Read Full Review)
The Ancient Assyrians – Empire and Army, 883-612 BC, Mark Healy. An impressively detailed military history of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, covering the rise and fall of the Empire, the activities and policies of the Emperors, the nature of the Assyrian army and its many campaigns. The survival of a massive number of cuniform tablets, combined with the monumental wall art created to celebrate the achievements of the Emperors, allows the author to create an impressively detailed military and political history of what became the largest Empire yet to exist(Read Full Review)
Tannenberg 1914 – Destruction of the Russian Second Army, Michael McNally. Looks at the first part of the German victory in East Prussia in 1914, the destruction of the Russian Second Army at what became known as the battle of Tannenberg, after a campaign in which the Germans were often outnumbered and frequently considered themselves to be in serious trouble, before winning a crushing victory that undermined the entire Russian position in East Prussia (Read Full Review)
Battle of Malta June 1940-November 1942, Anthony Rogers. Looks at the long battle of Malta, covering the Italian and German aerial assault on the island, the many convoys that attempted to bring supplies and reinforcements to the island, the daring but unsuccessful Italian Navy attack on Grand Harbour of July 1941 and the offensive operations carried out from the island. Gives a good feel for how the tempt of operations pulsed during the course of the battle, generally peaking when the Germans were present, and in particular early in 1942 (Read Full Review)
Norway 1940 – The Luftwaffe’s Scandinavian Blitzkrieg, James S. Corum. A good overall history of the German invasion of Norway, with a general focus on the aviation aspects of the campaign, but not at the expense of telling the wider story. Tells the story of a campaign in which the Germans were simply far more prepared for modern warfare than their opponents (Read Full Review)
Mongol Warrior vs European Knight – Eastern Europe 1237-42, Stephen Turnbull. An excellent study of the Mongol invasion of Poland and Hungary in 1241, looking at their famous victories at Liegnitz and Muhi as well as their failures at Esztergom and Székesfehérvár. Despite the title, this book serves as a good history of the overall campaign, with a focus on the Knights on the Hungarian and Polish sides, with good accounts of the main battles but also an examination of the overall campaign and the wider performance of the armies involved (Read Full Review)
The Hydaspes 326 BC – The Limit of Alexander the Great’s Conquests, Nic Fields. Starts with a useful look at the main sources for Alexander and his Indian opponents, and an impressively full examination of the armys on both sides, before moving onto a good account of the last of Alexander the Great’s main battlefield victories, and perhaps his most difficult and hard fought battle, involving the crossing of a major river followed by the defeat of a powerful army based around a large number of elephants (Read Full Review)
Armies in Southern Russia 1918-19, Phoebus Athanassiou. Looks at the armies involved in the very confusing fighting in Ukraine in 1918-19, with pro-Bolshevik, Red Army, White Russian, Ukrainian, Allied forces and even some German forces all involved in the fighting, with a brief overview of events, and a look at the size, organisation and perhaps most importantly in this campaign the character of the many forces involved (Read Full Review)
Selling Schweinfurt, Brian D. Vlaun. Looks at how the USAAF picked its targets, in particular in the period to the end of 1943, the time when the Eighth Air Force was commanded by Ira C. Eaker. Very good on the American side of the story, looking at how the targets were selected, who influenced that selection and how effective the raids were seen as being from the American side (Read Full Review)

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