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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 2,025 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

Soviet Pistols – Tokarev, Makarov, Stechkin and others, Leroy Thompson. Looks at the pistols used and produced in the Soviet Union, from the pre-revolutionary Nagant M1895 to post-war automatic pistols, with excellent sections on their development and technical details, greatly aided by the author’s experience with these weapons, supported by good sections on their use in combat (Read Full Review)
Super-Battleships of World War II – Montana class, Lion class, H-class, A-150 and Sovetsky Soyuz-class, Mark Stille. Looks at the last and largest generation of battleships to be designed (and in some cases laid down) by the world’s major naval powers, just as the Second World War brought new battleship construction to an end. Compares the more realistic British, American and (some) German designs with the massive Japanese design and the over-ambitious Soviet designs, to paint a picture of the ‘lost’ last generation of battleships (Read Full Review)
Chobham Armour, William Suttie. A study of all the post-war armoured vehicles developed at the Army’s centre for military vehicle design at Chobham Common, covering main battle tanks from the Centurion to Challenger II and a wide range of light and medium tracked and wheeled armoured vehicles. Well written and lavishly illustrated, this is an excellent guide to the mainly successful military vehicles designed at Chobham (Read Full Review)
Me 262 – Northwest Europe 1944-45, Robert Forsyth. Looks at the brief combat carrier of the Me 262, the only jet fighter to see combat during the Second World War, when it outpaced every Allied aircraft it faced, and when things went well could inflict serious damage on individual bomber formations. However as this book demonstrates it arrived too late, there were never enough of them, and too many were lost to non-combat reasons (Read Full Review)
The Last Viking, Don Hollway. A dramatic telling of the story of Harald Hardrada, making extensive use of later saga sources to fill out the details of an otherwise relatively poorly documented life. May as a result sometimes include material from the sagas that isn’t documented elsewhere, but does make for a more satisfying biography(Read Full Review)
Teutonic Knight versus Lithuanian Warrior – The Lithuanian Crusade 1283-1435, Mark Galeotti. Looks at three battles of the long Lithuanian Crusade, two Teutonic victories and the crushing Lithuanian victory at Grunwald/ Tannenberg that triggered the decline of the Teutonic Order. Compares the organisation, tactics and equipment of the fighting monks of the Teutonic Order and the initially pagan Lithuanians, who turn out to be more similar than one might have expected before focusing on the three battles. (Read Full Review)
Cromwell against the Scots – The Last Anglo-Scottish Wars 1650-1652 (revised edition), John D Grainger. Looks at the war between the former civil war allies, triggered by English fears of a possible Scottish invasion after the Scots accepted Charles II as their king, and which saw Cromwell invade and conquer much of Scotland before the Scots carried out a fairly desperate invasion of England in the hope of attracting Royalist support before being overwhelmed at Worcester. Looks at the political debates in both countries, the skilfully conducted (by both sides) campaign in Scotland, and the final desperate Scottish/ Royalist invasion of England (Read Full Review)
Hitler’s Fortresses in the East – the Sieges of Ternopol, Kovel, Poznan and Breslau 1944-1945, Alexey Isaev. Looks at four examples of the sieges of cities designated as Fortresses by the Germans as the war turned against them on the Eastern Front, covering the often brutal fighting in these besieged cities, German attempts to either break the siege or at least support the fighters from outside, how the way the Soviets tackled them changed, and if they actually performed the role they were intended to (Read Full Review)
Dark Waters, Starry Skies – The Guadalcanal-Solomons Campaign, March-October 1943, Jeffrey R. Cox. Looks at the fighting in the Solomons from the tail end of the Guadalcanal campaign to the end of the invasion of New George, along with the connected fighting on New Guinea and the naval and air campaigns associated with those campaigns. This was a period when the naval war was finally balanced, with the Americans in control in daylight and the Japanese at night, with both sides able to inflict heavy blows on the other, but against a background of growing American power and a series of Japanese setbacks (Read Full Review)
Landing Craft & Amphibians – Seaborne Vessels in the 20th Century, Ben Skipper. Covers a very large topic in a fairly short space, looking at everything from the smallest Infantry landing craft through to the massive Landing Ship Tanks, over a period stretching from Gallipoli, through the Second World War to the end of the 20th Century. As a result each type of vessel only gets a small space, but we do get a good overview of the massive range of landing craft and amphibians produced over the last century, and in particular the huge variant of such craft produced on all sides during the Second World War (Read Full Review)
Roman Conquests – Mesopotamia and Arabia, Lee Fratantuono. Looks at the Roman involvement in Arabia and Mesopotamia, two areas that were never fully conquered and that saw some of Rome’s worst defeats during attempts to conquer Parthia and wars with Persia as well as the establishment of provinces of Arabia and Mespotamia in the western part of those areas. An interesting look at Rome’s one border with a power of equal standing and military power (Read Full Review)
Eben-Emael and the Defence of Fortress Belgium 1940, Clayton Donnell. Looks at the role of the Belgian forts in the campaign of 1940, going beyond the famous fall of Fort Eben-Emael to look at how the remaining forts were able to hold out for much longer than this would leave you to expect, with several fighting on for more than two weeks, despite lacking the infantry support they were meant to rely on. A very atmospheric account of what it was like to be under siege in these isolated fortresses, as the front line moved further away from them (Read Full Review)
Caudine Forks 321 BC – Rome’s Humiliation in the Second Samnite War, Nic Fields. Looks at the early history of Rome, the nature of the Samnites and their expansion in southern Italy, the earlier clashes between the two, the aftermath of the battle, the possible impact of the Samnite wars on the Roman army, and what little we know about the actual battle itself, which may not actually have included much fighting (Read Full Review)
Warship 2022 – ed John Jordan. An interesting collection of high quality articles on topics that vary from the gunboats of Imperial Germany to the massive ‘super-battleship’ designs produced in the Soviet Union in 1939-41, covering a time period from the nineteenth century to the present day. A good selection of high quality articles, many of which could easily be turned into a stand-alone Osprey (Read Full Review)
Battles of the Jacobite Rebellions – Killiecrankie to Culloden, Jonathan Oates. Focuses mainly on the actual battles of the Jacobite campaigns, from Killiecrankie to Culloden, covering the nine main battles that took place in that sixty year period. Focuses largely on the battles, although with enough background and campaign information to make sense of them and how they fitted into the wider conflict. Provides as detailed troop lists and casualty figures as are possible for these battles, and makes good use of sources from both sides to provide well written, balanced accounts of these battles (Read Full Review)
The Frozen Chosen - The 1st Marine Division and the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir, Thomas McKelvey Cleaver. Combines a history of the first stages of the Korean War with a more detailed examination of the 1st Marine Division’s battles around the Chosin Reservoir, which prevented the eastern part of the UN line collapsing like the US Army held western part.  Has some firmly expressed views on the reasons for the American failure to predict the invasion and for MacArthur’s failures during the invasion of the North, and a good understanding of why the North Koreans and Chinese were both initially successful. Combines it with a detailed examination of the Marines in battle, taking us down to the individual foxhole and the fights for numbered hills (Read Full Review)
Arctic Convoys 1942 – The Luftwaffe cuts Russia’s lifeline, Mark Lardas. Looks at the most dangerous year for the Arctic convoys, in which three quarters of all ships lost on the route were sunk, examining the role of the Luftwaffe in that German success. Covers the aircraft involved, tactics used, looks at the main convoy battles of the year in some detail, and the impact of this year’s battles on the remaining two and a half years of Arctic convoys. (Read Full Review)
Infantry Antiaircraft Missiles – Man-Portable Air Defense Systems, Steven J. Zaloga. Looks at the technology behind these weapons, traces their development in the United States, Soviet Union, Britain and elsewhere, covering the main versions that have entered production, how they were used in combat, and covers examples of their main uses in combat, from their debut in the Arab-Israeli wars to the current conflict in Syria. Ends with a look at how they may evolve in the future, and the impact they still have on modern air warfare (Read Full Review)
Never Greater Slaughter – Brunanburh and the Birth of England, Michael Livingston. Combines an useful history of the battle with a search for its lost site, coming up with a convincing argument for it having taken place on the Wirral, looking at the rather limited sources for clues, and combining that with a study of the historical background – who fought there, how might they have got there, and how the battle might have gone (Read Full Review)
Foreign Panthers – The Panzer V in British, Soviet, French and other service, 1943-58, M.P. Robinson & Thomas Seignon. Looks at the surprisingly limited use of the Panther by Germany’s wartime allies and enemies and in the post-war world, where despite its high reputation only a handful of tanks went on to serve with France, Romania, Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia, mainly because of the unreliable nature of the Panther which meant that the surviving German tanks soon needed spare parts that were no longer available. (Read Full Review)
Alexander the Great’s Legacy – the Decline of Macedonian Europe in the Wake of the Wars of the Successors, Mike Roberts. Looks at why Macedonia was unable to benefit from the massive Imperial conquests of Philip II and Alexander the Great, which in theory had made it the centre of a massive Empire, but which in practice left the kingdom as something of a backwater, under constant threat of invasion by the rivals clashing over the fragments of Alexander’s Empire, clashes between the different claimants to the Macedonian throne itself, and a devastating invasion by the Gauls (Read Full Review)
The Forty Sieges of Constantinople – The Great City’s Enemies and its Survival, John D Grainger. Looks at all of the attacks on the city known as Byzantion, Constantinople and Istanbul, from the earliest Persian attacks to the First World War, with the bulk of the forty coming during the city’s time as Constantinople, the great eastern capital of the Roman then Byzantine Empires, when the city was one of the most often attacked in the world, but also the most successfully defended, only falling to external enemies twice in a millennium! (Read Full Review)
To Save an Army – The Stalingrad Airlift, Robert Forsyth. A study of the German efforts to supply the Stalingrad pocket from the air, an effort that never managed to fly in as much supplies as were needed, and that cost the Germans a huge number of transport aircraft and bombers that had been pressed into service, as well as seriously diminishing Hitler’s respect for the Luftwaffe. Traces the determined efforts made by the units at the front to try and overcome the vast array of problems and obstacles they faced, and the failure of those efforts as the Stalingrad pocket shrank, and airfields inside and outside the pocket fell to the Soviets, the winter weather slowed flight operations and the Nazi leadership interfered and complained (Read Full Review)
Victoria Crosses on the Western Front – Continuation of the German 1918 Offensives 24 March-24 July 1918, Paul Oldfield. Eighth in this series, covering all but the first three days of the German offensives of 1918, from the fourth day of Operation Michael on the Somme to the end of the Champagne-Marne offensive, so a period of open warfare unlike anything seen since 1914. Starts with a narrative account of the campaigns, including accounts of the how each recipient won their VC, then moves on to a larger series of alphabetically organised biographies. A very impressive achievement, if rather too large to be used as a field guide (Read Full Review)
Riflemen - The History of the 5th Battalion, 60th (Royal American) Regiment 1797-1818, Robert Griffith. Looks at one of the more unusual battalions in the British army of the Napoleonic period, a rifle armed unit that was normally split up to provide light troops and skirmishers for other units in the army, and was largely manned with foreign troops, from the original Americans of its formation to the Germans and even French who filled its ranks during the Peninsular War. Covers the original formation of the battalion, the development of the military rifle, how the battalion was trained in light infantry tactics, as well as its long combat career in the Peninsular, where it arrived with Wellesley in 1808 and remained until the end of the Peninsular War (Read Full Review)
The Shetland ‘Bus’ – Transporting Secret Agents across the North Sea in WW2, Stephen Wynn. Focuses on the mens and boats of the Shetland ‘Bus’, who risked their lives on every voyage across the North Sea carrying agents to and from Norway and helping refugees escape from the Nazi occupation. Built around three chapters that look at the agents, operations and boats that made these missions possible (Read Full Review)
SdkFz 251/0 and 251/22 Kanonenwagen, Dennis Oliver. Looks at two versions of the German SdkFz 251 half track that were armed with surplus 75mm guns and used for infantry support and as a tank hunter. Covers the development of these two vehicles, the available models, camouflage schemes but with most space taken up by a list of all of the major units known to have been equipped with the type, looking at when they got it, how many they were meant to have and probably did have, and a brief summary of where they were used (Read Full Review)
Hitler’s Strategic Bombing Offensive on the Eastern Front – Blitz over the Volga 1943, Dmitry Degtev & Dmitry Zubov. A study of one of the few examples of German strategic bombing on the Eastern Front, a short lived attack on the industrial areas on the Volga, and in particular the Molotov plant at Gorky, lasting for a month before the start of Operation Citadel, but doing a significant amount of damage in that time. Somewhat judgemental in tone, but supported by a wide range of sources from both sides (Read Full Review)
The Lost Samurai – Japanese Mercenaries in South East Asia 1593-1688, Stephen Turnbull. Looks at the little known use of Japanese mercenaries by many of the powers of South-East Asia including local and European powers in a brief window of opportunity before Japan largely cut herself off from the outside world. Combines a history of the Japanese mercenaries with a wider look at Japan’s relationships with the outside world, including a series of proposals for an invasion of the Philippines and with the changes of policy about outside contacts (Read Full Review)
The Elizabethan Conquest of Ireland, James Charles Roy. An immersive account of the Elizabethan struggles in Ireland, which claimed the careers of a series of English commanders, most famously Robert Devereux the Earl of Essex, most of whom failed to get to grips with the complex situation in Ireland, while also struggling to convince Elizabeth to supply enough money to fund operations in a country that seemed to swallow funds and armies. Largely focuses on one significant figure at a time, and successfully brings us into their worlds (Read Full Review)
Gladiators 4th-1st centuries BC, Francois Gilbert. Focuses on the various types of gladiator, where they came from, how they evolved over time and the details of their arms and armour. Includes an introduction on the changing nature of gladiatorial fights and gladiators over this period, but ignores their involvement in the politics of the period. A good overview of the different types of gladiators, written by an expert on the topic (Read Full Review)
US Navy Armored Cruisers 1890-1933, Brian Lane Herder. Looks at these large, fast US cruisers, an important part of the US Navy before the First World War, when despite the flaws in the armoured cruiser concept the American examples were amongst the best designed ships in the fleet. Looks at their combat high point during the Spanish-American War and their decline to obsolescence after the arrival of the faster dreadnoughts and battlecruisers removed their key advantage (Read Full Review)
British Commonwealth Cruiser vs Italian Cruiser – The Mediterranean 1940-43, Angus Konstam. Looks at the design of the British and Italian cruisers that clashed in the Mediterranean (the biggest part of the book), how they were manned, the quality of their gunnery, armour and gun control systems, and gives some examples of how they faired in combat with each other. Very good on the cruisers themselves, including a useful chart showing which cruisers were active in the Mediterranean and when, but a bit too brief on the clashes between them (Read Full Review)
Essex Class Aircraft Carriers 1945-91, Mark Stille. Looks at the post Second World War of the massive Essex class of aircraft carriers, given a new lease of life by the Korean War, tracing their many upgrades to allow them to operate jet aircraft, their use off Korea and Vietnam, the types of aircraft they used and ending with brief ship by ship summaries of their careers and upgrades (Read Full Review)
Royal Navy Torpedo Bombers vs Axis Warships 1939-45, Matthew Willis. An excellent look at the battles between British aircraft and German and Italian warships, which saw the British torpedo bombers score their biggest victories in 1941, at Taranto, Cape Matapan and against the Bismarck, before slowly fading away as the nature of the war at sea changed and the Swordfish and Albacore became increasingly obsolete and enemy anti-aircraft fire increased in strength. Combines good technical sections with clear accounts of the main battles (Read Full Review)

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