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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 1,838 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

The M1 Carbine, Roger Out. A detailed examination of the American M1 Carbine, developed for use by support troops, the artillery etc during the Second World War, but which went on to be used in a wider range of roles in the post-war period, gaining a somewhat controversial reputation when misused as a frontline weapon. A very good examination of the development of the carbine and how it worked, followed by a very detailed look at the minor changes during its production run and the markings used by the many different manufacturers who built the M1 (Read Full Review)
Warships in the Spanish Civil War, Angus Konstam. A look at the naval side of the Spanish Civil War, which saw the larger Republican fleet fail to take advantage of its numerical advantage, allowing the rebels to ship troops from Africa to the mainland and limiting the governments ability to import arms and supplies. A good account of the fighting at sea during the civil war, as well as a useful examination of the ships involved (Read Full Review)
Yorkshire Women at War - Story of the Women's Land Army Hostels, Marion Jefferies. Looks at the accommodation hostels used by the Women’s Land Army in Yorkshire, the experiences of the Land Girls living in them and the problems encountered running them. An interesting study of an aspect of the Land Army that I didn’t even realise existed, but that played a major role in the life of many of the women who served in it during its ten years. Includes memories from the Land Girls, and a set of reports from the chief organiser for North Yorkshire and post-war Yorkshire to give a good idea of the pleasures and perils of life in these hostels (Read Full Review)
British Naval Weapons of World War Two – The John Lambert Collection Vol III: Coastal Forces Weapons, ed Norman Friedman. The third and final of three impressive books built around plans and drawings produced by John Lambert, looking at the small boats used by British Coastal Forces and the weapons they carried, accompanied by a useful introduction to the topic by Norman Friedman. A very impressive selection of detailed plans covering just about every element of these boats, from the radar antenna to their depth charges and torpedoes as well as the weapons carried by submarines. (Read Full Review)
Battleship Duke of York – An Anatomy from Building to Breaking, Ian Buxton & Ian Johnston. Largely focuses on the construction of the Duke of York, using a collection of photographs taken by the builders combined with their regular shipyard reports. Gives a really impressive view of just how much effort went into building these battleships, and how impressive the shipyards that produced them were. Also includes useful plans of the Duke of York, and photographs from when she was being broken up, to give a good idea of the birth and death of a major warship. (Read Full Review)
Mitsubishi A6M Zero, Robert Jackson Mitsubishi A6M Zero, Robert Jackson. Combines a useful history of the Zero (looking at the history of Japanese naval aviation, the development of the Zero, its service record in China and the Pacific) and the Allied reaction to it), with a detailed examination of the available model kits from the early Airfix kit to the current state of the art, along with an interesting model showcase, following the construction and modification of a Trumpeter A6M2 in 1/24 scale. Very good if you are interesting in modelling the Zero (Read Full Review)
Pacific Carrier War, Carrier Combat from Pearl Harbor to Okinawa, Mark E. Stille. A look at the five main carrier battles of the Pacific War – Coral Sea, Midway, the Eastern Solomons, Santa Cruz and the Philippine Sea – the five times that Japanese and American fleet carriers clashed during the war, with most coming in 1942 before the final destruction of the Japanese naval air arm in 1944. Looks at the state of both naval air forces before the war, how they performed in each battle, how they changed over time, and what gave the Americans the edge that saw them achieve their aim in five of the six battles (Read Full Review)
Images of War – M2/ M3 Bradley, David Doyle. A photographic study of the Bradley infantry fighting vehicle, focusing largely on detailed pictures of the main versions of the M2 and M3 and the related M270 MLRS, with a final chapter looking at the Bradley’s deployment in battle, mainly in Iraq and Afghanistan. A little too much focus on the detailed photos of the variants for my taste, but still a good visual guide to this vehicle. (Read Full Review)
RAF on the Offensive – The Rebirth of Tactical Air Power 1940-1941, Greg Baughen. Looks at the slow evolution of the RAF in 1940-41, a time in which RAF orthodoxy believed that the only way to win the war was with a fleet of heavy bombers, despite an ever increasing amount of evidence to suggest that close support of the army on the battlefield was at least as important. Makes a good argument for his case that the RAF hierarchy left the force less effective in 1941 than it had been in 1940, while tracing the slow evolution of proper close support in North Africa (Read Full Review)
Women and Weapons in the Viking World, Leszak Gardela. An excellent study of all of the evidence connecting women and weapons in the Viking world, including the written record of the sagas and histories, artistic representations, and the archaeological record, in particular the contents of a number of the graves of women that contain military equipment. Avoids sensationalism to produce a thoughtful and very well researched examination of the ways in which Viking women may have been connected to those weapons, including the possibility of them being female warriors (Read Full Review)
A Guide to British Military History - The Subject and the Sources, Ian F. W. Beckett. A look at the current state of academic British Military History, tracing the changes in the historigraphical and methodological techniques in use, followed by an examination of the main areas of study in the military history of the period since 1500. An often valuable guide to the current state of academic historical work, although a bit too dismissive of the better ‘popular’ works, which often provide a better overview of a topic (Read Full Review)
Deadlier than the Male – Wives of the Generals 1677-1937, Trina Beckett. A look at the lives of a selection of military wives, ranging from the hugely influential Sarah Churchill to the adventurous tale of Juana Smith, with six chapters looking at one person each, and one chapter looking at a selection of late Victorian wives, allowing for more direct comparison between their experiences and influence. Does a good job of proving that the experiences of each of these women was very different, and that many of them were highly influential (Read Full Review)
The Anglo-Spanish War 1655-1660: Volume 1: The War in the West Indies, Paul Sutton. A look at the first part of Cromwell’s war with Spain, looking at the almost disastrous attempt to invade the Spanish empire in America, which began with a costly failed attack on Hispaniola before the survivors of the army just about managed to conquer Jamaica. Looks at the background to the war, the creation of the combined army and navy for the expedition, its divided leadership and the events of the campaign to the immediate aftermath of the conquest of Jamaica and the return home of the most senior commanders (Read Full Review)
With Marshal Foch – A British General at Allied Supreme Headquarters April-November 1918, Lt General Sir John de Cane, KCB. The memoir of the senior British liaison officer at General Foch’s supreme Allied HQ during the pivotal events of 1918, and thus a witness to how Foch reacted to the German attacks early in 1918 and the victorious Allied counterattacks. Unusual in that it appears to have originally been written just for de Cane’s own private use, almost immediately after the war, so is likely to be entirely honest, given that he wasn’t expecting it to be read by his former colleagues (Read Full Review)
History of the Third Seminole War 1849-1858, Joe Knetsch, John Missall and Mary Lou Missall. Looks at the last of the three wars fought against the Seminoles of Florida, in an ultimately failed attempt to completely remove them from the recently formed state. An interesting conflict in which many US regulars appear to have had some sympathy for their opponents, and which ended with the symbolic removal of some of the Seminole leaders, but left behind a viable population that still lives in the peninsula(Read Full Review)
How the Army Made Britain a Global Power 1688-1815, Jeremy Black. A look at the role of the British army in the creation of the British Empire, arguing that it had an uniquely world wide role, and was much more important in the expansion of British power than it is often given credit for. Does a good job of demonstrating just how varied the experiences of most British army officers were during this period (Read Full Review)
A Scottish Blockade Runner in the American Civil War – Joannes Wyllie of the Steam Ad-Vance, John F. Messner. Looks at the experiences of a former teacher who went to sea, quickly rose through the ranks in the Merchant Navy and ended up playing a major role in the success of the blockade runner Ad-Vance, sometimes operating as its first officer and sometimes as its captain. A vivid account of his activities, using a mix of contemporary records, memories of Wyllie’s own talks and an article in the People’s Friend written by a friend of Wyllie (Read Full Review)
The Final Advance - September to November 1918, Andrew Rawson. The final entry in a series of books on the Western Front, this entry looks at the battles to penetrate the Hindenburg Line and the final advance, as well as the negotiations that ended the war. Has a very different feel to most books on the Western Front, with a genuinely successful breakthrough of a major defensive line and a German retreat that lasted to the end of the war. (Read Full Review)
Germany and the Great War: Western Front First Year - Neuve Chapelle - First Ypres - Loos, Joshua Bilton. A splendid selection of photographs covering the experiences of Germany on all fronts during 1915, along with some pictures showing the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman experiences. A rather misleading title, but benefits from it by covering a wider range of subjects, with only one of the six chapters looking at the Western Front(Read Full Review)
Battle of Manila – Nadir of Japanese Barbarism, 3 February-3 March 1945, Miguel Miranda. An account of the brutal battle to liberate Manila, a battle that happened because the Naval forces holding Manila ignored the Japanese Army’s plans to withdraw from the city and fight elsewhere. The result was a month long battle that left large parts of the city devastated, and huge numbers of civilians dead, many as a result of Japanese massacres. Written by an inhabitant of Manila whose family were caught up in the events of the siege,so we get an unusually personal connection to the battle, combined with good research (Read Full Review)
Advance to Victory July to September 1918, Andrew Rawson. The penultimate entry in an excellent series on the Western Front, this volume focuses on the defeat of the final German offensive, the Allied counterattacks that led to the ‘black day’ of the German Army on 8 August, and the prolonged Allied advance that took them up to the Hindenburg Line, recovering the ground lost in the earlier German offensives of 1918(Read Full Review)
Samurai vs Ashigaru Japan 1543-75, Stephen Turnbull. Looks at three key sixteenth century battles in which the traditional Samurai of the Takeda faced armies of increasingly dangerous Ashigaru infantry, losing the first and last and only winning the second because their opponents were outnumbered and rather badly organised. An interesting look at a key development in the Japanese military history that probably helped unify Japan and end the long Warring States period. (Read Full Review)
Early French Aviation 1905-1930, Graham M. Simons. A splendid collection of photographs of early French aircraft, mainly from the pre 1914 era, the first decade of powered heavier than air flight. Includes a fascinating mix of the sensible and the wacky, all supported by very well researched captions which provide technical details of the aircraft as well as their fate. An excellent source for the early history of aviation in its main pre-war powerhouse. (Read Full Review)
Kongo-Class Battleships, Lars Ahlberg and Hans Lengerer. An excellent photographic history of the Kongo class of battleships, originally built as pre First World War battlecruisers but modified twice to turn them first into battleships, then into fast battleships with the distinctive Japanese pagoda foremasts. This book combines a good history of the ships with an excellent selection of photographs, including good details on the layout of their distinctive pagoda foremasts and an honest assessment of the results of their reconstructions. (Read Full Review)
German Tank Destroyers, Pierre Tiquet. An excellent collection of photographs of the main German tank destroyers of the Second World War, with a somewhat less satisfactory text that wanders between excellent sections analysis the performance of the vehicles and otheres that can be rather too congratulationary in tone and appears to use wartime Nazi propaganda for many of its eyewitness accounts, without explaining where each source came from. (Read Full Review)
U.S. Aircraft Carriers 1939-45, Ingo Bauernfeind. A photographic history of the US Aircraft Carrier of the Second World War, covering the Fleet, Escort and Light carriers with a background history of each class, and a brief history and at least one photograph for every carrier that saw service during the war. Also includes a detailed diving tour of the Saratoga, a guided tour of the Hornet (now a museum ship) and a look at the post-war career of the Essex class carriers (Read Full Review)
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)

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