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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 1,982 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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China Station – The British Military in the Middle Kingdom 1839-1997, Mark Felton. Looks at one of the less glorious chapters of British military history, starting with the two Opium Wars and including the invasion of Tibet, and the Japanese conquest of Hong Kong. Also covers the Boxer War, the famous attack on HMS Amethyst, a disasterous attempt to create a branch of SOE in Shanghai, and the final forty years of British rule in Hong Kong. Interesting to see how the balance of power changed during the century and a half of British involvement, from the one-sided victories of the First Opium War to the hard fighting during the Boxer Revolt and the acknowledgement that Hong Kong was undefendable by 1941 (Read Full Review)
The 614th Tank Destroyer Battalion – Fighting on Both Fronts, Samuel de Korte. Looks at the experiences of one of three tank destroyer battalions manned by black soldiers to see combat during the First World War, and the first black army unit to win the Distinguised Unit Citation during the Second World War. Looks at the problems faced by a black unit in the segregated US Army of the time, and the 614th’s experience in battle, which saw it come up against the Germans during their last offensives in the West, then take part in the advance into Austria and finally towards Italy. An excellent unit history, well illustrated with the men’s own words, and also a valuable piece of social history (Read Full Review)
Recce - Small Team Missions Behind Enemy Lines, Koos Stadler. Looks at the career of a South African soldier who served with the Bushmen during the Border War and then with various Special Forces Units on a wider front, taking part in some ambitious, if not always successful, long range missions with the Small Teams part of the Special Forces. Fascinating material on the nature of South African Special Forces operations in the bush, as well as the author’s love of the wild and the way in which his political views changed over time as he was exposed more often to his opponents views. (Read Full Review)
The Battle of Killiecrankie – The First Jacobite Campaign, 1689-1691, Jonathan D. Oates. Looks at the Scottish part of the wars that followed the overthrow of James VII and II, which included the famous Jacobite victory at Killiecrankie and two far less famous Williamite victories that ended the effective part of the uprising, as was as the infamous massacre of Glencoe. This was the only Jacobite uprising to take place before the Act of Union, and as a result the campaign has a very different feel to the later conflicts (Read Full Review)
The Battle of Glenshiel – The Jacobite Rising in 1719, Jonathan Worton. A look at the shortest and least successful of the Jacobite uprisings, ended by a battle in which the defeated Jacobites suffered lower losses than the victorious Georgians, but scattered. Covers the political background to the rising, the biographies of the key Jacobites, the original plan for a Spanish invasion of England and Jacobite uprising in Scotland, the landing in Scotland and the naval intervention that isolated the Jacobites, and the battle itself, which effectively the rising (Read Full Review)
Opposition to the Second World War – Conscience, Resistance & Service in Britain, 1933-45, John Broom. A wide ranging study that looks at pre-war objections to war, both on political and grounds of conscience, the way in which conscientious objectors were treated during the war, the types of service objectors were willing to do, objections to the way the war was being conducted, and the post war impact of the pacifist movements. A fascinating look at a very varied group, most of whom were highly principled, although often rather naïve, and who faced fairly random looking treatment, although generally better than that faced by their First World War predecessors (Read Full Review)
The Persian War in Herodotus and Other Ancient Voices, William Shepherd. A look at the Persian Wars and the famous battles of Marathon, Thermopylae, Salamis and Plataea that focuses on how they are portrayed by Herodotus, and including large sections of his text (complete sections for the main events of the wars), as well as extracts from other ancient sources when they provide extra information. Between the extracts Shepherd provides extra context, looks at how convincing Herodotus’s account is, and searches for possible reasons for the less convincing sections (Read Full Review)
The Battle for Palestine 1917, John D. Grainger. Looks at the British conquest of Palestine in 1917, which began with two defeats at Gaza before Allenby arrived to take over and successfully broke the Ottoman lines at Gaza before taking Jerusalem late in the year to give the beleaguered allies a valuable morale boost. Gives a balanced view of the abilities of Allenby’s predecessor Murray, who had to deal with many other issues as well as Palestine, but also examines why Allenby was a more capable battlefield commander (Read Full Review)
Code Breaker Girls – A Secret Life at Bletchley Park, Jan Slimming. A fascinating combination of a biography of Daisy Lawrence, the author’s mother, and a more general account of life for the works at Bletchley Park. Also covers Daisy’s efforts to find out what had happened to her fiancé Stan, who was captured by the Japanese at the fall of Singapore and spent the rest of the war as a POW, and the impact of keeping her wartime role secret on Daisy’s mental health (Read Full Review)
A Shau Valor - American Combat Operations in the Valley of Death, 1963-1971, Thomas R. Yarborough. A detailed account of the repeated brutal battles in the A Shau valley in the north-west of South Vietnam, the location of the infamous ‘hamburger hill’, and the site of repeated American incursions, none of which achieved anything of significance. Very good on the brutal nature of the fighting in the A Shau, which the author witnessed from the air as a forward air controller, and takes a balanced view of the wider picture of the American side of the war, including the political background, the policies of the American commanders in Vietnam and the way the war was reported (Read Full Review)
Conquerors of the Roman Empire - the Franks, Simon MacDowall. Looks at the role of the Franks in the collapsing world of Roman Gaul, where they were more often Rome’s allies than her enemies, but still ended up as the rulers of most of the former Roman province. Sometimes feels more like a history of the fall of Roman Gaul than of the Franks, but that feels like the only approach that would make sense of the Frankish activities in this often confused period (Read Full Review)
The Cretan War, 1645-1671: The Venetian-Ottoman Struggle in the Mediterranean, Bruno Mugnai. Looks at the details of the long war between Venice and the Ottoman Empire triggered by the Ottoman invasion of Crete, but which included major naval battles in the Dardanelles and land campaigns along the Dalmatian coast of the Adriatic. Looks at the armies that fought the war, pre-war Crete, diplomacy, the European contribution to the Venetian war effort, the naval battles and the sieges, although could have done with a simple narrative of the war (Read Full Review)
155mm Gun M1 ‘Long Tom’ and 8in Howitzer in WWII and Korea, David Doyle. A photographic history of the closely related 155mm Gun and 8in Howitzer, two key pieces of American artillery during the Second World War and in Korea. Includes a brief history of the gun, a section of detailed pictures of parts of the guns, a chapter on the machines used to tow and supply the guns, while the largest chapter, filling half of the book, looks at the two guns combat record in the Second World War and Korea (Read Full Review)
Aedan of the Gaels King of the Scots, Keith Coleman. The first full length biography of Aedan mac Gabrain, ruler of Dal Raita, a kingdom split between Ulster and the west coast of Scotland, at the end of the sixth century. A difficult task because of the relative scarcity of sources and their often contradictory nature, but one that the author has handled well, producing a picture of the historic Aedan (as much as possible) as well as the mythical one, who appeared in Scottish, Irish and even Welsh tales (Read Full Review)
The Bravest Man in the British Army, Philip Bujak. A biography of a rather complex and often unsympathetic character, who clearly thrived as a rather unconventional officer on the Western Front, where his desire to lead from the front helped him win the Victoria Cross. Also covers his controversial time in Russia in 1919, which resulted in his being court martialed, and his personal life, which saw him married twice, father a child with a third woman and leave most of his goods to a fourth, otherwise unknown woman! (Read Full Review)
Attila the Hun, Arch-Enemy of Rome, Ian Hughes. A valuable attempt to produce a look at the life and times of Attila and the Huns from their point of view rather than that of their enemies. A difficult task simply because all of the surviving sources were produced by their enemies, but a worthwhile one that gives us a different view of Atilla and his empire. (Read Full Review)
The Isles of Scilly in the Great War, Richard Larn. Combines an account of the domestic impact of the war on the previous isolated islands with a look at the military impact, which saw the islands play a major role in the U-boat war, hosting a naval base and an RNAS/ RAF airbase, bringing large numbers of servicemen to the islands. Also covers the economic and personal impact of the war on an area whose manor pre-war industry was flower growing and that suffered its fair share of losses during the conflict. (Read Full Review)
Dawn of Victory - Thank You China! Star Shell Reflections 1918-1919, illustrated diaries of Jim Maultsaid. An unusual but fascinating illustrated diary looking at the author’s experiences working with the Chinese Labour Corps on the Western Front during the key battles of 1918. Maultsaid was unusually interested in seeing things from the Chinese point of view, which he credited for his company’s good performance, and it gives this book much of its value, as we see his insights into the attitudes and culture of the men under his command, who he greatly respected and admired. Equally significant are Maultsaid’s illustrations, which give us an atmospheric visual record of his company and its activities (Read Full Review)
Petsamo and Kirkenes 1944 – The Soviet Offensive in the Northern Arctic, David Greentree. Looks at one of the more obscure campaigns of the Second World War, the Soviet offensive that pushed the Germans out of their last footholds on the Soviet arctic coast and the far north of Finland and Norway, triggering a retreat of 500km to a defensive line deep in the mountains of northern Norway (Read Full Review)
Kut - The Death of an Army, Ronald Millar. After a brief look at the first major setback suffered by Townshend’s army at Ctesiphon, the book focuses on the long siege of Kut and the desperate attempts to lift the siege, which saw the relief forces get to within a relatively short distance of Kut, so their battles could be seen and heard from within the besieged town. A rather depressing book in that we know the end of the story and the fate of besieged, but an excellent account of the siege despite that (Read Full Review)
Robert Craufurd – The Man & The Myth – The Life and Times of Wellington’s Wayward Martinet, Ian Fletcher. A detailed biography of ‘Black Bob Craufurd’, most famous as commander of Wellington’s Light Division in the Peninsula, but who also fought in Ireland and took part in the disasterous expedition to South America. Looks at how his strict discipline helped turn his division into one of the best in Wellington’s army, but also how his over confidence almost led to disaster. We also get a look at his surprisingly tender private life, illuminated by the letters he sent to his wife (Read Full Review)
Religion & Classical Warfare – Archaic and Classical Greece, Matthew Dillon, Christopher Matthew, Michael Schmitz. A series of articles looking at the role of religion in ancient Greek warfare, looking at issues as varied as the attitude of the main early Greek historians to the theological issues behind the ideas of fate and predestination, or the way in which oracles and omens could be manipulated to get the required results by altering circumstances or the question you asked! (Read Full Review)
Tynedale at War 1939-1945, Brian Tilley. Looks at the impact of the Second World War on the rural valley of Tynedale and its largest town of Hexham, an area that wasn’t the target of German bombing, but saw many of its inhabitants heading off to war, and life in the area changed in many ways, as well as being the home of an RAF station and POW camps (Read Full Review)
Nagasaki – The Forgotten Prisoners, John Willis. Tells the stories of the Allied POWs who were imprisoned at Nagasaki when the second atomic bomb was dropped, from their capture, through their earlier POW experiences, on to the explosion of the bomb itself and its aftermath, their liberation, return home and the long term impact their experiences had on them (Read Full Review)
East China Sea 1945 – Climax of the Kamikaze, Brian Lane Herder. Covers the air and naval aspects of the American invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, which saw the Americans assemble one of the largest fleets in naval history, while the Japanese carried out a series of massive kamikaze attacks, especially during the battle of Okinawa. Shows just how terrifying these attacks could be, but also how the size and effectiveness of them dwindled during the campaign, with the final major attack only including 45 kamikazes (Read Full Review)
Fw 190D-9 – Defence of the Reich 1944-45, Robert Forsyth. Looks at the combat career of the long nosed Fw 190D-9, perhaps the best German piston engined fighter of the Second World War, but one that entered service far too late to make any real difference to the fighting. Covers the development of the aircraft, the training of its pilots, the production and technical details of the aircraft, and its use in combat, which saw it serve in a wide range of roles, from ground attack to defending the new jet aircraft as they took off and landed (Read Full Review)
Troy - An Epic Tale of Rage, Deception and Destruction, Ben Hubbard. A thematic examination of the siege of Troy both as told in the Illiad, and how it might fit into what we know of the history of the period. Focuses on what the story of the siege tells us about society and warfare in Bronze Age Greece, and what other sources about the period might tell us about elements of the Illiad. Beautifully illustrated, this book paints a vivid picture of the brutal world of ‘heroic’ era Greek warfare. (Read Full Review)
Winged Sabres - One of the RFC’s Most Decorated Squadrons, Robert A. Sellwood. A detailed history of No.20 Squadron, RFC, one of the most successful two seat fighter squadron of the First World War, reconstructing the lost record books for 1916 and 1918 to add to the details of 1917. Also tries to compare British claims to German losses and vica-versa, and to place the fighting in the context of the fighting below on the ground and the changes in aerial combat (Read Full Review)
Voices in Flight: Escaping Soldiers and Airmen of World War I, Martin W. Bowman. Despite the title this book actually contains twelve articles on air warfare during the First World War with no connection to escapers, followed by seven looking at escape stories. Not what the title would lead you to expect, but does include plenty of interesting articles on its actual topic as well as a mix of Allied and German escape stories, mainly told in the escapers own words (Read Full Review)
Warships in the Baltic Campaign 1918-20 – The Royal Navy takes on the Bolsheviks, Angus Konstam. A useful account of the little known British led intervention in the Baltic which saw a small Royal Navy fleet play an important role in establishing the independence of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, helping fight off Soviet and German forces. Covers the campaign itself, and the ships and men of the Soviet Baltic Fleet and the Royal Navy and allies (Read Full Review)
Trajan – Rome’s Last Conqueror, Nicholas Jackson. A useful biography of the united Rome Empire’s last great conqueror, whose conquest of Dacia marked the last long term expansion of the empire before the fall of the west, but whose conquests in the east were very short lived. Really gets into its stride as Trajan rose to high rank, and includes very detailed accounts of the Dacian wars in particular. (Read Full Review)
The Nearly Man, Mark Bridgeman. A look at a fascinating but flawed figure, who played a part in many of the most important events of his time without ever quite coming to the front. Follows Francis Metcalfe through service in two World Wars including the intervention in Russia in 1918-19 and a brush with Republican violence in western Ireland, but also through the prison systems of two countries! (Read Full Review)
Blocking Kampfgruppe Peiper, Frank van Lunteren. Looks at the experiences of the 504th PIR during the Battle of the Bulge, which saw them arrive just in time to help repel Peiper’s roving Panzer force, then take part in the costly counterattacks that helped force the Germans back out of the Bulge. Looks at each individual battle in great detail, tracing the regiment’s experiences in a brutal and costly campaign in which elements of it were involved in heavy fighting on just about every day (Read Full Review)
From Journey's End to the Dam Busters - the Life of R.C. Sherriff, Playwright of the Trenches, Roland Wales. Looks at the life and works of R C Sherriff, most famous as the author of Journey’s End, but who went on to be a successful movie scriptwriter, contributing to a series of hit films over several decades, most famously the Dam Busters. Starts with a look at his own military service, which feels different in tone to most other accounts of junior officer’s experiences because of his self doubt, and which played a major role in his success with Journey’s End (Read Full Review)
Eagles over Husky - The Allied Air Forces in the Sicilian Campaign, 14 May to 17 August 1943, Alexander Fitzgerald-Black. Looks at the massive air campaign that supported the invasion of Sicily, examining what was done and why, and asking how effective the campaign was. Perhaps a bit too willing to defend the air forces against some valid criticisms, but still provides a very valuable analysis of the air campaign as an event in its own right, as well as looking at the impact it had on the Luftwaffe and the overall situation in Italy (Read Full Review)
Rebel to Reels – A biography of Combat Cameraman Daniel A. McGovern USAF, Joseph McCabe. Looks at the fascinating life of Daniel A. McGovern, who went from being under IRA siege in post First World War Ireland to serving as a Combat Cameraman in the USAAF, documenting the 8th Air Force’s bombing raids over Germany and the aftermath of the Atomic Bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where he filmed the devastation of Japan and the first tentative signs of post-war renewal (Read Full Review)
Arms and Armour of the Imperial Roman Soldier – From Marius to Commodus, 112 BC-AD 192, Raffaele d’Amato and Graham Sumner. An impressive guide to the full range of Roman military equipment over a period of three centuries, covering everything from arms and armour to horse tack, all illustrated by copious pictures. Clearly the result of extensive research, this is an invaluable reference work on the equipment of the armies that created the Roman Empire. Also contains a strong argument for the accuracy of contemporary paintings and sculptures of Roman soldiers, taking a different stance to many (Read Full Review)
Wargames Terrain & Buildings The Napoleonic Wars, Tony Harwood. Covers nine different projects, mainly for stand-alone buildings, but including a well and a diorama made of several buildings, taking us from the original concept, through the entire modelling process and on to the painting. The author’s results are very impressive, and the techniques he uses are clearly explained and do appear to be reasonably achieveable by anyone with a bit of modelling experience (although it will take some time and practice to get close to the same results!) (Read Full Review)
The World of the Battleship – The Design and Careers of Capital Ships of the World’s Navies 1900-1950, ed. Bruce Taylor. Looks at the careers of twenty one battleships, battlecruisers and armoured cruisers from twenty one different countries, from the Chen Yuen of 1882 to the Missouri of 1944. Looks at the political reasons for the purchase of these expensive ships, their technical specifications, their combat record if they had any, and their impact on their home nations, along with interesting sections on life onboard, demonstrating how much the experience of the sailors could vary from nation to nation (Read Full Review)

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