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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 1,940 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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The British Navy in Eastern Waters – The Indian and Pacific Oceans, John D. Grainger. Looks at the long involvement of British naval forces in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, from the first tentative voyages of exploration, through the long years of rivalry with France and through the period of British dominance that didn’t end until the Second World War and the retreat from Empire. A fascinating account of the development of British naval dominance in an area which never saw a major British naval battle, and rarely saw the deployment of powerful fleets and yet which still became the ‘jewel in the crown’ and for some time was effectively a British ‘lake’ (Read Full Review)
Gunpowder & Glory – The Short Explosive Life of Frank Brock OBE, Harry Smee & Henry MacRory. Looks at the history of the Brock firework family and the life of Frank Brock, the inventor of the bullet that played a major role in shooting down Zeppelins, as well as a series of inventions for use against the U-boat menace, and a new form of smoke screen that was essential for the Zeebrugge Raid. Brock emerges as a classic ‘Boffin’ of the type more familiar in the Second World War, sadly combined with a frustrated man of action who was determined to take part in the Zeebrugge Raid, where he was killed in the fighting on the Mole (Read Full Review)
The Gestapo’s Most Improbable Hostage, Hugh Mallory Falconer . Follows the wartime experiences of an officer in SOE who effectively bluffed his way onto the Gestapo’s list of valuable hostages after being captured in Tunisia, then spent 22 months in Sachsenhausen, where he witnessed some of the worst of the Nazi atrocities, before being moved to the Southern Redoubt where the whole hostage plan unravelled, and his party was rescued from the Gestapo, first by a unit of the Wehrmacht and then by the Americans (Read Full Review)
Send More Shrouds - The V1 Attack on the Guards' Chapel 1944, Jan Gore. Looks at the single most costly V-1 attack of the Second World War, when one hit the Guards’ Chapel in the middle of a service killing 124 and wounding another 100. Focuses almost entirely on the attack and its victims, so we get a detailed account of the rescue operation and potted biographies of all of the known victims of the attack. A poignant examination of a single incident in a costly campaign (Read Full Review)
Armies of the Germanic Peoples 200BC – AD600, Gabrielle Esposito. Mainly focuses on a military history of the contacts between Roman and the German tribes of the period, from the migration of the Cimbri and Teutones during the late Republic to the 5th century fall of the Western Empire and the sacks of Rome, with one chapter on the weapons and tactics of the Germanic tribes and how they evolved over the six or seven centuries of contact with Rome (Read Full Review)
Hotspur – Sir Henry Percy & The Myth of Chivalry, John Sadler. Interesting biography of ‘Hotspur’ looking at the reality behind Shakespeare’s rival to the young Henry V and how the real Henry Percy fitted into the brutal situation on the Anglo-Scottish border during his life, as well as his wider career. Paints a picture of a very different man to Shakespeare’s Hotspur, but almost certainly a much more accurate picture of this experienced border aristocrat (Read Full Review)
First In, Last Out - An Unconventional British Officer in Indo-China, J.P. Cross. A fascinating account of the author’s time as military attaché in Laos, arriving in 1972 while the Americans were still propping up the Royal government and leaving in 1976 after the Communist takeover of the country, so an eyewitness to the country’s fall to communism, given extra value by his speaking nine Asian languages (including Lao) and his honesty, which gives us an unusual insight into these dramatic events (Read Full Review)
Wellington’s Foot Guards at Waterloo – the men who saved the day against Napoleon, Robert Burnham and Ron McGuigan. Looks at the activities and strength of the four battalions of the Foot Guards that fought in the Waterloo campaign, where they defended Hougoumont and withstood Ney’s massive cavalry attack. Most of the book is a very detailed but still readable account of the Guards’s combat experience at Waterloo, but there is also an equally detailed anaylsis of the composition of the battalions, covering everything from the background of the commanding officers to the average height and hair colour of the troops! (Read Full Review)
The Hall of Mirrors – War and Warfare in the Twentieth Century, Jim Storr. A sweeping examination of twentieth century warfare written by a long serving officer in the British army, covering a vast array of topics. Gives the reader plenty to think about, although for me marred by a tendency towards sweeping claims that aren’t always accurate, poorly integrated ‘what ifs’, and a tendency to claim ‘historians don’t discuss this’ for some very familiar topics! Interesting for the vast array of topics covered, and for its thought provoking nature (Read Full Review)
Z Special Unit, Gavin Mortimer. Looks at three of the missions carried out by SOE and Special Operations Australia, two long range raids on Singapore (Operations Jaywick and Rimau) and their longer involvement on Japanese occupied Borneo. An excellent study of these daring missions, given a somewhat downbeat tone by the disastrous failure of Operation Rimau, the second raid on Singapore. However that shouldn’t distract from the impressive achievements of Operation Jaywick and the exploits of the teams on Borneo (Read Full Review)
Limits of Empire – Rome’s Borders, Simon Forty and Jonathan Forty. An impressive visual guide to the border fortifications of the Roman Empire, demonstrating just much effort went into protecting the thousands of miles of frontiers, how much of those fortifications have survived (at least in fragments), and how much effort has since gone into excavating and preserving them. Combines a useful history of the frontier and the nature of life along it with an impressive visual guide to the frontier fortifications (Read Full Review)
Z Special Unit, Gavin Mortimer. Looks at three of the missions carried out by SOE and Special Operations Australia, two long range raids on Singapore (Operations Jaywick and Rimau) and their longer involvement on Japanese occupied Borneo. An excellent study of these daring missions, given a somewhat downbeat tone by the disastrous failure of Operation Rimau, the second raid on Singapore. However that shouldn’t distract from the impressive achievements of Operation Jaywick and the exploits of the teams on Borneo (Read Full Review)
Cuzco 1536-37 – Battle for the Heart of the Inca Empire, Si Sheppard. Looks at the long siege of Cuzco that came close to ending the Spanish occupation of the Incan Empire (at least temporarily), but ended as a Spanish victory that ensured their control of the west coast of South America, and ended any chance that the Incans might have survived as an independent power. This account of the siege covers the entire conquest period, before moving onto the siege and the various relief efforts, with a focus on just how the tiny Spanish forces managed to defeat the vast Incan armies (Read Full Review)
Liberty or Death – Latin American Conflicts, 1900-70, Philip Jowett. Looks at the seemingly endless of wars, revolutions and coups that dominated Latin America during the first seven decades of the 20th century, ranging from relatively minor border conflicts to the two decades of chaos in Mexico in the 1910s and 1920s. In some ways a rather depressing read, with its array of largely pointless conflicts, brutal dictators and often hard to justify American interventions, but also very informative, filling a sizable gap in my knowledge (Read Full Review)
Smashing Hitler’s Guns – The Rangers at Pointe-du-Hoc D-Day 1944, Steven J. Zaloga . An excellent study of the US Ranger’s attack on the gun battery at Pointe-du-Hoc, looking at the dangers posed by German coastal guns, lessons learnt from previous landings, the aerial and naval bombardments of the guns, their status on D-Day and the threat they may still have posed, the other Ranger activities on D-Day including their important role on Omaha Beach, the post-war portrayal of the raid, and of course an excellent account of the actual attack, including the relatively easy capture of the battery and the far more dangerous battle to actually hold onto it (Read Full Review)
Johnnie Johnson’s Great Adventure – The Spitire Ace of Ace’s Last Look Back, Dilip Sarker MBE. The fascinating thoughts of Britain’s most successful Spitfire pilot on the second half of his career, when he was serving as a wing commander, first in the campaign of ‘leaning over the Channel’, then in support of the D-Day invasion and the campaign in north-western Europe. Valuable both for the insights into his own combat career and for his views on the wider air campaign and the senior officers who shaped it (Read Full Review)
Britain at War with the Asante Nation 1823-1900 – ‘The White Man’s Grave’, Stephen Manning. Looks at the nearly eighty years of on-off conflict between the Asante and the British, which began with the Asante largely dominant (even killing one British governor in battle) but ended with the Asante kingdom swallowed up by the British Empire during the Scramble for Africa. Benefits greatly from being able to use the work of modern Ghanaian historians so we get both sides of the story in a way that hasn’t always been the case for colonial wars (Read Full Review)
Greece 1941 – The Death Throes of Blitzkrieg, Jeffrey Plowman. Looks at the German conquest of Greece and the failed British and Commonwealth attempt to stop it, which began with some diplomatic deception to convince the Commonwealth commanders to agree to it and ended with another of the evacuations that punctuated the early British war effort. Concludes with an argument that the Greek campaign demonstrated the limits of Blitzkrieg, although how much the German problems were down to the mountainous terrain and limited routes is up for debate. (Read Full Review)
The Defenders of Taffy 3 – Analysis and Retelling of the Battle of Leyte Gulf, Byron G. Como. A detailed account of the battle off Samar, taking advantage of the declassification of the American battle reports in 2012 and the use of any surviving Japanese reports to produce an accurate study of the defensive battle that saved the escort carriers of Taffy 3 from total destruction. Uncovers some previously lost details of the battle, and even traces the courses of individual torpedoes! (Read Full Review)
Fighting the French Revolution – The Great Vendee Rising of 1793, Rob Harper. A detailed history of one of the most serious threats to the young French Republic, which saw Royalist rebels in the west of France inflict a series of defeats on the Republicans in a civil war that became increasingly bitter and costly, and dragged in many commanders who would later rise to high rank. Very good on the details of the individual battles and skirmishes that made up this conflict, with a good use of sources from both sides (Read Full Review)
Tommy goes to War, Malcolm Brown. A very valuble collection of extracts from previously unpublished letters, diaries and oral testimoneys left behind by British soldiers of the First World War, recording their experiences from recruitment to the Western Front. First published in 1978, when it helped shift the view of the war away from the ‘Lions led by Donkeys’ attitude that had become dominant. Instead the book showed that the general attitude towards the war was more positive, even during the worst of the battles (Read Full Review)
Ancient Greeks at War – Warfare in the Classical World from Agamemnon to Alexander, Simon Elliott. A useful overview of Greek warfare from the earliest days of the Minoans and Mycenaeans, through the triumphs and tragedies of the Classical and early Hellenistic periods and on to their decline and defeat at the hands of the rising power of Rome. Philip II of Macedon and Alexander the Great get a great deal of attention (with a chapter each out of the six). A good summary of ancient Greek warfare based on up-to-date research, and with plenty of useful detail despite the long period being covered (Read Full Review)
The Last Throw of the Dice - Bourbaki and Werder in Eastern France 1870-71, Quintin Barry. Looks at the last French attempt to inflict a significant defeat on the invading Germans during the Franco-Prussian War, when their army of the East was sent to try and lift the siege of Belfort, threaten the German lines of communications and possibly even turn north to try and lift the siege of Paris. Traces how the ambitious campaign floundered, saw the French suffer a defeat against a smaller German army at the Lisaine and were eventually force to flee into internment in Switzerland, just as the entire war was coming to an end (Read Full Review)
When the Shooting Stopped – August 1945, Barrett Tillman. Looks at the final weeks of the Second World War, from the initial rumours of a possible Japanese surrender, through all of the uncertainty caused by the different factions in Tokyo and on to the official surrender ceremony in Tokyo Bay. Looks at the intercepted intelligence that guided American actions, the political debates within Japan, the confusion faced by the various fighting forces as peace got closer, the last military actions of the war, and the initial stages of the occupation of Japan and the surrender ceremony in Tokyo Bay (Read Full Review)
Cumbria at War 1939-45, Ruth Mansergh. Contains a large amount of details on how the Second World War impacted on Cumbria, from the Barrow Blitz to the large scale relocation of industry to the area, the use of airfields around the edges of the country (and the many crashes as aircraft flew into the fells in poor weather). Might have benefited from a more thematic structure, but does provide a great deal of interesting information from all around this large county (Read Full Review)
The Two Eleanors of Henry III, Darren Baker. Looks at the lives of Henry III’s sister, who married Simon de Montfort, and his wife, both Eleanors, and both very heavily involved in the political controversies of Henry’s reign. Both had important and controversial lives, and both appear to be able to take some of the blame for the crisis that rocked Henry’s rule late in his life, while also acting as fairly typical medieval aristocrats, defending their own rights at all costs (Read Full Review)
The Glorious First of June 1794, Mark Lardas. Looks at the first major naval battle of the French Revolutionary Wars, the only major battle of the age of sail to be fought in the open ocean, and a battle that both sides believed they had won, each having different objectives for the campaigns. Combines a good account of the background and the wider campaign with a clear account of the three main days of fighting. Celebrated in Britain for the capture of several French warships and in France for the safe arrival of a massive convoy carrying essential supplies (Read Full Review)
A Spitfire Girl - One of the World's Greatest Female ATA Ferry Pilots tells her Story, Mary Ellis. The remarkable life story of a ferry pilot with the ATA who flew four hundred different Spitfires and seventy-six different types of aircraft during her flying career, including the jet powered Meteor, then went on to run Sandown airport on the Isle of Wight, probably making her the only female airport manager in Europe at the time! Mary comes across as a remarkable person, with a real desire for speed – as well as her time in Spitfires she was also a successful rally car driver, winning several events (Read Full Review)
Redcoats to Tommies – The Experience of the British Soldier from the Eighteenth Century, ed. Kevin Linch and Matthew Lord. An interesting collection of articles looking at the experiences of the British soldier from the Eighteenth century Redcoats through to the start of the First World War (and in one case to 1992), covering a wide range of topics from how recruitment changed to the public attitude to the soldier, in a period that saw the British soldier go from being seen as the lowest of the low to the much admired ‘Tommy’ (Read Full Review)
Deception in Medieval Warfare – Trickery and Cunning in the Central Middle Ages, James Titterton. Looks at the use of deception in warfare in the Francophone world (France, the Low Countries, Norman England with examples from Italy and the Crusades), studying both the actual examples of deception of various types and the chroniclers attitudes to it. An excellent study that helps prove that medieval warfare was far more complex than many would believe, as were attitudes to deception (Read Full Review)
Oathmark Bane of Kings, Joseph A McCullough. Contains four additions to the Oathmark system – new formation rules for using existing units, new units (animated stone and chariots), kingdom events to give your kingdom more of a history (with some impact on upcoming battles) and two military expeditions, linked series of three scenarios with their own interesting special rules. A fun addition to the system, especially to the already fun kingdom system (Read Full Review)
Stargrave: The Last Prospector, Joseph A. McCullough. An entertaining add-on to the Stargrave system, built around a ten scenario long campaign where most can be done in any order, with the order chosen and the results of previous ones having some impact on later scenarios. Also includes some useful additions to the game, including new backgrounds for your two characters, new soldier types, new monsters and new equipment (Read Full Review)
Stargrave, Joseph A. McCullough. A squad based sci-fi wargame, based around battles between small independent crews, emerging as a mix between a competitive RPG and a small scale wargame, with a nice advancement system for your lead characters, supporting by a squad of more disposable characters, fighting in skirmish battles that work best as part of a long campaign, with a nice system for bringing ever more hostiles onto the battlefield. Aimed at the ‘fun’ rather than the ‘competitive’ end of the market and nicely achieves that aim (Read Full Review)
Armies of the Hellenistic States 323 BC- AD 30, History, Organisation & Equipment, Gabriele Esposito. An excellent study of the armies fielded by the many different Hellenistic powers, starting with the Macedonian armies of Philip II and Alexander the Great, then looking at the armies of the many and varied powers to emerge from the wars of the successors, from the ‘big three’ of Macedonia, Egpyt and the Seleucids to the individual Greek cities, Hellenistic Isreal and the Bactrian and Indian outposts. Covers their structure, troop types and equipment, and how they changed over time (Read Full Review)
Stephen and Matilda’s Civil War – Cousins of Anarchy, Matthew Lewis. A nicely organised look at the civil war between Stephen and Matilda, with alternating chapters looking at events from one side then the other, trying to explain why the war lasted so long, how bad things actually were during this period, and how the character of the two main players might have affected events. A well balanced account of a controversial period, described by our main sources as being near total chaos (Read Full Review)
Siege Warfare during the Crusades, Michael S. Fulton. A thematic account of siege warfare during the Crusading period, based on a broad study of Christian and Muslim fortifications including a comprehensive list of the sieges of the period. A good approach that gives us a detailed picture of how siege warfare developed during the two centuries of the Crusader period, a time in which sieges were by far the most important element of warfare. An excellent detailed examination of every aspect of siege warfare in this period (Read Full Review)
From Battle of Britain Airman to POW Escapee - The Story of Ian Walker, RAF, Angela Walker. Tells the story of a New Zealander who volunteered to join the Air Force at the outbreak of war, arrived in the UK just in time to fight in the battle of Britain then moved to Bomber Command, eventually being shot down and captured. Written from the point of view of his daughter Angela, who discovered his wartime diaries after his death, so we also get the story of she uncovered more about his wartime experiences and how that altered her attitude to the conflict (Read Full Review)
Luftwaffe Special Weapons 1942-45, Robert Forsyth. A look at the vast array of special weapons developed for the Luftwaffe, ranging from simple large cannon up to guided missiles, along with a range of more wacky suggestions, including flame throwers, bombs towed on cables, chemical sprays designed to block windscreens or attempts to create massive gusts of wind! Most came too late to have any real effect on the war, or even get out of development, but some did have an impact on the fighting, especially the anti-shipping weapons (Read Full Review)
P-51B/C Mustang – Northwest Europe 1943-44, Chris Bucholtz. Looks at the development of the first Merlin powered version of the Mustang, and its impact on the air battles over Europe from its introduction at the very end of 1943 to its replacement by the P-51D. Focuses more on the development of the aircraft and the overall picture of the air war than is often the case in this sort of book, making it a more valuable book (Read Full Review)
Oathmark: Battles of the Lost Age, Joseph A McCullough. A small scale fantasy wargame, designed for armies of 30+ figures, each representing an individual soldier, with a quick moving set of basic rules supported by a set of interesting looking advanced rules for heroes, magic etc, and backed up by a fun kingdom creation system that lets you customise the overall army list you use to build individual armies, making it possible to field mixed forces with just about any combination of troop types from the game (Read Full Review)
British Gunboats of Victoria’s Empire, Angus Konstam. Looks at the warships that carried out the famous ‘gunboat diplomacy’ of the Victorian Empire, a type of shallow draft screw driven warship that evolved from Crimean war area coastal bombardment gunboats into more flexible gunvessels and sloops, capable of operating in shallow waters and rivers but also of ocean voyages, making them a flexible instrument of British power. Focuses largely on the technical descriptions and development of the type, with a brief look at their use (Read Full Review)
French Warships in the Age of Steam 1859-1914 – Design, Construction, Careers and Fates, Stephen S. Roberts. A valuable reference work that looks at the development and technical specification of some 1,400 warships that were built for the French Navy between the launch of the first ocean-going ironclad Gloire and the outbreak of the First World War. Also includes very brief overviews of their careers, mainly looking at the key dates in their construction, when they went in and out of commission and when their careers ended (Read Full Review)

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