Military History Encyclopedia on the Web

2018 onwards - 2017 - 2016 - 2015 - 2014 - 2013 - April-December 2012 - November 2011-March 2012 - July-October 2011 - January-June 2011 - March-December 2010 - January-April 2010 - September-December 2009 - January-August 2009- 2008 - 2007

10 November 2019

The White Chariot, Richard Denning. Book Four in a series set amongst the warring kingdoms of early seventh century Britain. Follows two half brothers from Northumbria as they try to gain allies for the opposing sides in the ongoing dynastic struggles between the two Northumbrian sub-kingdoms of Deira and Bernicia, with each of the brothers largely engaged in their own plot. An entertaining tale, set amongst the crumbling remains of Roman Britain and the warring kingdoms that replaced it (Read Full Review)
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Modern Snipers, Leigh Neville. Looks at the uses of the sniper in the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, against the insurgencies that followed, and on domestic anti-terrorism and police duties. An interesting look at the surprising variety of roles carried out by modern snipers, from the obvious elimination of high value targets or military threats to long term reconnaissance duties. Also reveals just how many different organisations currently field snipers, from the world’s many Special Forces units to domestic police forces(Read Full Review)
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Churchill's Last Wartime Secret – the 1943 German Raid Airbrushed from History, Adrian Searle. Although I’m not convinced by the author’s case for a German raid on the Isle of Wight, his historical methods are sound, and he prevents the evidence for and against the story, and includes a detailed examination and debunking of similar stories from elsewhere around the coast. The idea of a raid on a radar base in 1943 is at best unproven, but the case is presented fairly, with much more balance than is often the case in this sort of book(Read Full Review)
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3 November 2019

The Regiment - 15 Years in the SAS, Rusty Firmin. A likeable, if rather sweary, autobiography of a member of the SAS who took part in the Iranian Embassy Siege, the Falklands War and several tours of Northern Ireland. The first half of the book covers the author’s transformation from very reluctant recruit to an enthusiastic gunner, then into the Commandos then finally the SAS, the second half his time in the SAS itself, ending with his views on the First Gulf War. Provides a valuable view of life in the SAS in the period that saw it rise to prominence after the Embassy Siege(Read Full Review)
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Hitler's Last Levy in East Prussia, Bruno Just. A difficult combination of a useful war diary and a troublesome introduction. The diary covers the struggles of a Volkssturm unit fighting in East Prussia, and rings true, but the introduction is appalling biased, distorting the nature of the war, exaggerating Soviet war crimes and ignoring the far worse German crimes. Worthwhile for Just’s account of the last few months of the war and the heavy cost paid by the Volkssturm for Hitler’s determination to fight to the last man, and his harsh criticism of the Nazi party and its leadership(Read Full Review)
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Objective Saint-Lo, 7 June 1944-18 July 1944, Georges Bernage. Looks at the brutal battles in the bocage country as the Americans attempted to reach Saint-Lo, a key road junction and the starting point for the planned breakout from Normandy. A very detailed account of the fighting seen from both sides, giving us a good idea of what it was like to take part in this hard fought battle, following the experiences of one particular German unit and two American officers in great detail (perhaps at the cost of the overall picture) (Read Full Review)
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27 October 2019

The British Navy in the Mediterranean, John D. Grainger. A nice approach to a key aspect of British military history, looking at the rise and fall of British naval power in the Mediterranean, from the earliest appearance of British warships protecting merchant ships in the sixteenth century, through the intermittent presence of British fleets in the sea during the long sequence of wars with France and Spain and on to the almost century and a half of dominance that began late in the Napoleonic Wars and lasted well into the Second World War. A fascinating examination of one of the key elements of Britain’s naval power(Read Full Review)
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A Tough Nut to Crack: Andersonstown, Steve Corbett. The story of a successful deployment of troops from an artillery battery in one of the most violent areas of Northern Ireland at the height of the troubles. A clear demonstration of the correct way to run a peacekeeping operation in difficult circumstances, a tour in which despite the best efforts of the IRA none of the soldiers were killed, and in which they managed to massively disrupt IRA operations in the Andersonstown area of Belfast. Covers the Bloody Sunday period, so we get to see the impact of that incident in Andersonstown (Read Full Review)
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Hannibal’s Road, The Second Punic War in Italy, 213-203 BC, Mike Roberts. A history of the last ten years of Hannibal’s campaign in Italy, after the most famous victories had already been won, and he had won over large areas of southern Italy. Suffers somewhat from the author’s pro-Hannibal bias, which sees him discount any reports of Roman victories while believing every tale of Punic success, but is otherwise a useful account of an often neglected period in which Hannibal was still able to win battlefield victories, but was unable to defend his new allies, slowly being pushed back into the far south before eventually having to return to Africa(Read Full Review)
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20 October 2019

Eagles over the Sea 1936-42, A History of Luftwaffe Maritime Operations, Lawrence Paterson. Looks at the origins of German naval air power during the First World War, its revival in the 1930s, the first combat tests of the Spanish Civil War and its role in the key battles during the first half of the Second World War, a period that included the battle of Norway, the battle of Britain, the forced German intervention in the Mediterranean, the battle of the Atlantic, the Arctic convoys and the period of most German success on the Eastern Front, all campaigns that involved naval aviation in some way (Read Full Review)
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Bayly’s War - The Battle for the Western Approaches in the First World War, Steve R. Dunn. A fascinating history of the first battle of the Atlantic in the Western Approaches, the waters around Ireland, looking at the overall course of the battle, the role of Admiral Bayly, commander-in-chief on the Irish station, and the impact of the American arrival in Ireland. Paints a picture of a very different battle to the more familiar one from the Second World War, with the key difference being the lack of any way to detect a submerged U-boat, leading to very heavy shipping losses. Also includes interesting material on the problems caused by Irish nationalism, peaking with the Easter uprising, but also causing more low key problems for most of the war (Read Full Review)
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Somme 1916 Battlefield Companion, Commonwealth War Graves Commission. A guide to the battle of the Somme built around a series of battlefield trails that visit the many Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries on the battlefield. An effective approach to this familiar topic, linking the cemeteries to the battles fought in their vicinity and attempting to explain where the men buried in each one were killed. Well designed for use as a guide, ring bound with oversized covers fold out covers useable as bookmarks, as well as keeping rain off the book. The tours themselves are largely road based, with visits the key cemeteries (Read Full Review)
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13 October 2019

Courage After the Battle – Peter Jackson-Lee. A thought provoking look at the long term impact of combat on military veterans, how they cope, and the various systems in place in help. Written by an ex-Royal Marine and Falklands veteran, and covers an impressively wide range of subjects, from the basics of evacuation to the treatments of the many wounds suffered, to the non-physical problems suffered by many veterans. Each section includes a historical survey, looking at how things have changed over the last century or so. A book that will be of great value for anyone trying to understand the long term impact of combat on Britain’s veterans, both civilian and veteran (Read Full Review)
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The Normandy Battlefields - Bocage and Breakout, From the Beaches to the Falaise Gap, Simon Forty, Leo Marriott & George Forty. A good visual guide to the fighting in Normandy, combining a good narrative of the battle, with an impressive selection of photographs, including a series showing the locations of key battles as they were in 1944 and how they are now, supported by a good introduction to the campaign and a series of studies of key aspects of the battle, from Allied air power to the Tiger tank. A good combination of well written history and illustrations (Read Full Review)
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British Cruiser Warfare – The Lessons of the Early War, 1939-1941, Alan Raven. A very detailed study of the first two years of cruiser warfare, looking at how the Royal Navy operated against its German and Italian enemies. A detailed chronological account of the fighting is followed by a series of invaluable studies of particular topics, providing an impressive level of detail of issues from anti-aircraft tactics and damage control to life onboard ship. Also includes a useful section on the impact of code breaking on both sides, and some excellent plans of key British cruisers (Read Full Review)
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6 October 2019

How Churchill Waged War - The Most Challenging Decisions of the Second World War, Allen Packwood. Looks at how Churchill operated as a war leader, the reasons behind many of his key decisions, the limits on his power and how he dealt with, and his changing level of influence as the war developed. Finishes with a look at his disasterous 1945 election campaign. Looks at his methods of working, and how he interacted with his military and political colleagues and international Allies to make the key decisions (Read Full Review)
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Escaping Hitler - A Jewish Boy's Quest for Freedom and his Future, Phyllida Scrivens. The fascinating story of Gunter Stern, a Jewish boy from the rural Rhineland to came to Britain on one of the ‘kindertransports’, where he became Joe Stirling, served in the Army and later became a Labour Politian, and a very successful businessman, Sheriff of Norwich and charity fundraiser with the Lions Clubs. You’ll struggle to find a better case for the benefits of immigration!(Read Full Review)
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The Book of Five Rings and Other Works, Miyamoto Musashi. Not what I’d expected – often portrayed as more of a philosophical guide to the life of the Samurai, it actually comes across as an advert for the author’s dojo, describing the benefits of his fighting style and attacking the flaws of his rival’s styles and schools. Also includes a good biography of Musashi and the context of his life, and five other works that are also attributed to him, giving us a good single volume edition of his entire works(Read Full Review)
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29 September 2019

The Pope’s Army – The Papacy in Diplomacy and War, John Carr. A military and political history of the Papacy, from the earliest years under Roman rule, through the long period where the Pope was also the temporal ruler of the Papal States, through the unification of Italy and on to the present day. An entertaining dash through the almost two thousand long life of one of the oldest institutions in the world (Read Full Review)
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Lincoln's Bold Lion: The Life and Times of Brigadier General Martin Davis Hardin, James T. Huffstodt. A biography of a relatively minor Union general, with a unusually close relationship with President Lincoln, a friend and political colleague of his father. Not a terribly high ranking man, but one who was present at many of the major battles in the eastern theatre, and played a crucial role in the defence of Washington against Early’s raid and in the hunt for Lincoln’s assassins. Includes more material on his pre- and post- war lives than is often the case, which gives us a better view of the man and his times(Read Full Review)
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Antipater’s Dynasty – Alexander the Great’s Regent and his Successors, John D Grainger . A useful study of the short-lived dynasty founded by Antipater, Alexander the Great’s deputy in Macedonia during his great campaign, and continued by his son Cassander, who overthrew Alexander’s dynasty and declared himself to be king of Macedonia. A good choice of topic, filling a gap in the history of the period, and demonstrating just how significant this pair of father and son were in the creation and then the destruction of Alexander’s empire(Read Full Review)
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22 September 2019

In Action with the Destroyers 1939-1945 - The Wartime memoirs of Commander J A J Dennis DSC RN, ed. Anthony Cumming. A very engaging autobiography, covering the author’s wartime experiences in destroyers, and in particular his time on the Griffin, a modern destroyer, but with limited AA capability. Dennis’s wartime career included the Malta convoys, the Arctic convoys, anti-invasion duties in 1940, the D-Day landings of 1944, a brief foray into the Indian Ocean at the height of the threat from Japan, the evacuation from Crete and an impressively wide range of other battles and theatres(Read Full Review)
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British Naval Weapons of World War Two – The John Lambert Collection Vol II: Escort and Minesweeper Weapons, ed. Norman Friedman. Starts with a lengthy historical introduction looking at the development of the massive escort and minesweeping fleets and the weapons they used, written by the renowned Norman Friedman, before moving on to the incredibly detailed plans, which cover everything from full plans of the ships themselves to the tiniest details of their weapons, all supported by detailed annotations. Very useful for anyone looking to model these ships or attempting to identify particular weapons (Read Full Review)
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The Samurai, Stephen Turnbull. A good introduction to the history and culture of the Samurai, written by a renowned expert on the topic. Covers an impressively wide range of topics, including the overall history of the Samurai, their arms and armour, their attitude to death, the part they played in warfare, the impressive Samurai castles and the final end of the Samurai era after the Meiji Restoration (although their role as warriors had ended centuries earlier). (Read Full Review)
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15 September 2019

Blake, Victoria, Far Away. Three overlapping stories – the experiences of two POWs in Italy, the stories they chose to write in captivity and the long term impact of the war on their descendents. The first is based on the author’s father’s experiences, the third presumably at least in part by the author’s own life and looks at the long term impact of the war on the POW’s relatives.  An engaging read that drew me in, with three stories that link together convincingly(Read Full Review)
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Building the Gort Line – The BEF and its Defences in France 1939-40, Dave Thurlow. Looks at the fortifications built by the BEF in France in 1939-40, a set of fortifications that are often overlooked as they were abandoned at the start of the German campaign of 1940 and only briefly used during the retreat to Dunkirk, but that occupied much of the attention of the British army. Also looks at how the BEF’s work in France influenced the anti-invasion defences built in Britain after Dunkirk. An impressive amount of work went into these fortifications, but the events of 1940 proved that a thin crust was of no use against a powerful armoured assault(Read Full Review)
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Kleinkrieg - The German Experience with Guerrilla Warfare, from Clausewitz to Hitler, Charles D. Melson. An examination of the German attitude to Guerrilla Warfare during the Second World War, centred on a reprint of two original documents – Kleinkrieg of 1935 and the wartime ‘Fighting the Guerrilla Bands’ of 1944. Both give an insight into the German techniques of anti-guerrilla warfare, the first giving some idea of the pre-war attitudes, the second the practical methods used(Read Full Review)
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8 September 2019

Armies of the Greek-Turkish War 1919-22, Philip S. Jowett. Combines a look at the very varied armies of this war with a history of the war itself, which is now largely forgotten, despite involving sizable armies on both sides and ending with one of the first examples of large scale ethnic cleansing. Covers a wide range of troops, from the regular Greek and Nationalist armies to the varied irregular forces that fought on both sides, and in particular on the Turkish side (Read Full Review)
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Destroyer at War – The fighting life and loss of HMS Havock from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean 1939-1941, David Goodey and Richard Osborne. HMS Havock was one of the most active British destroyers of the Second World War, taking part in the Norwegian campaign, the fall of Holland, the battle of Matapan, the evacuation from Greece and Crete, the campaign in North Africa and the efforts to keep Tobruk and Malta supplied, before eventually being lost after running aground while attempting to escape from Malta (Read Full Review)
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The Dawn of the Carrier Strike and the World of Lieutenant W P Lucy DSO RN, David Hobbs. Looks at the development of British naval aviation between the wars, the damage done by the policy of dual control, the Navy’s battles to regain control of its own aircraft, and the first proper carrier campaign in history, the Norwegian campaign of 1940, where almost all of the types of carrier operations carried out later in the war were first attempted, although admittedly on a small scale. Shows how the Navy coped with the problems of dual control, and how quickly it learnt lessons during the Norwegian campaign (Read Full Review)
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1 September

All Things Georgian – Tales from the Long Eighteenth Century, Joanne Major and Sarah Murden. An entertaining collection of stories from the long Georgian era, mainly focusing on the stories of interesting women, ranging from high ranking aristocrats to infamous fraudsters, with many involving brief bursts of fame or notoriety, often ending with a return to poverty. Lacking in any military releveance, but it does give a good idea of what life was life in Britain during a period of near constant warfare, and some idea of the often riotous nature of Georgian society (Read Full Review)
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The Long Shadow of Waterloo – Myths, Memories and Debates, Timothy Fitzpatrick. An unusual approach to the battle of Waterloo, looking at the way in which the battle was remembered in the countries most closely involved, including the victors, where the main battle was over who had been responsible for the victory, in France, where the blame game began almost as soon as the fighting was over, and in Belgium, where the battle remained controversial for many years afterwards (Read Full Review)
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US Navy Battleships 1886-98 – The pre-dreadnoughts and monitors that fought the Spanish-American War, Brian Lane Herder. Looks at the first capital ships constructed for the ‘New Navy’, marking the rebirth of American naval power after the navy had been run down in the aftermath of the American Civil War. Built in response to a scare triggered by the purchase of modern warships by the major powers of North America, these ships won the naval battles of the Spanish-American War, a key step in the development of American imperialism and the rise of US naval power(Read Full Review)
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18 August 2019

To War with the 4th, Martin King, Michael Collins and Jason Nulton. A history of the US 4th Infantry Division, focusing on the First and Second World Wars, where the division fought in some of the most important American battles in Europe, with material on the Vietnam War and War on Terror. A good split between a clear narrative of the fighting and eyewitness accounts that gives both a clear history of the division’s role in the fighting, and a good feel for the nature of the battles (Read Full Review)
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Malta Strikes Back - The Role of Malta in the Mediterranean Theatre 1940-1942, Ken Delve. Looks at the wider role of Malta during the defensive period of the war in the Mediterranean, a period normally dominated by accounts of the siege and the constant air attacks. Here we also get the offensive role of the island, the function that made Malta so valuable to the British cause. The focus is on the air war – this is part two of a three part history of the air war in the Mediterreanean – so we learn about the medium bombers and torpedo bombers based on the island, sometimes operating in the middle of some of the heaviest enemy bombing(Read Full Review)
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The Last British Battleship – HMS Vanguard 1946-1960, R A Burt. Looks at the long development and brief service career of the last British battleship (and the last battleship launched anywhere in the world), designed early in the Second World War but not completed until after the war had made battleships effectively obsolete. This book completed Burt’s study of the British battleship, filling the one gap left in his work. The lack of any really service record for the ship means that this is effectively a large design study, but an interesting one(Read Full Review)
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11 August 2019

Dawn of Victory - Breakthrough at Petersburg, March 25-April 2, 1865, Edward Alexander. A look at the final week of the long sieges of Richmond and Petersburg, between Lee’s failed assault on Fort Stedman on 25 March and the evacuation of Richmond on 2 April. Although the retreat to Appomattox is more famous, it was these battles that really sealed the fate of Lee’s army, preventing him from making the clean break he needed if he had any chance of escaping into the south. This is a good clear account of that crucial last week(Read Full Review)
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Fight Like the Devil - The First Day at Gettysburg, July 1, 1863, Chris Mackowski, Kristopher D. White, Daniel T. Davis. A detailed examination of the first day of the battle of Gettysburg, looking at how the battle developed on both sides, the many myths and debates of the first day, the role of the key officers on both sides, and the eventual result of the fighting. This was an encounter battle, with both sides pouring troops into the fight as the day went on, with limited interventions by Lee or Meade, so the emphasis is on the role of key commanders at a lower level, and the results of their efforts (Read Full Review)
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Confederate Artillery Organizations: An Alphabetical Listing of the Officers and Batteries of the Confederacy 1861-1865, F. Ray Sibley Jr. A very specialised book, giving an alphabetical listing of all known artillery units to serve in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War, with a list of their commanding officers, and brief notes about most of them, mainly in the footnotes. If you need this information this book with be invaluable (Read Full Review)
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29 July 2019

Lutzen and Bautzen - Napoleon's Spring Campaign of 1813, George Hafziger. A very detailed account of the spring campaign of 1813, starting at the end of the retreat from Moscow, tracing the creation of a fresh French army, Napoleon’s victories at Lutzen and Bautzen, and his inability to turn either of them into a war winner. This was Napoleon’s last realistic chance of saving his Empire, and thus a more significant campaign than is often acknowledged. Once the campaign ended in an armistice and Austrian joined the war against him, Napoleon’s last real chance of surviving had gone, so this campaign and its two main battles deserve this detailed examination (Read Full Review)
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The Defence of Sevastopol 1941-1942 - The Soviet Perspective, Clayton Donnell. A look at the prolonged siege of Sevastopol, which saw the Soviet garrison pin down an increasingly sizable German force at a key point during their invasion of the Soviet Union, only finally falling in July 1942, after the start of the main German offensive of the year. A detailed study of the impressive Soviet defence of a city that had not really been prepared to be attacked from the land, but that sucked in a large German army and kept Manstein, one of Hitler’s most able generals, tied up in a side theatre at a key point in the war(Read Full Review)
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York’s Military Legacy, Ian D. Rotherham. A look at the military history of a city that was for many years the most important in the north, effectively the northern capital of England for much of the medieval period, as well as sitting on a river that made it accessible from the sea, and on one of the two key routes between England and Scotland. Focuses on events that took place in and around the city, so we get plenty on 1066 or the English Civil War, but relatively little on the World Wars (Read Full Review)
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21 July 2019

The Two Handed Sword – History, Design and Use, Neil Melville. A detailed history of the European two handed sword, a surprising agile but still fairly rare weapon that was used in some numbers during the later Middle Ages and early modern periods. Looks at the development of the weapon (a surprisingly complex subject), its use in combat, the many regional variations, the evidence for how it was wielded, and its evolution into a prestige, non-combat weapon (Read Full Review)
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Air Combat – Dogfights of World War II, ed. Tony Holmes. A collection of four Ospreys, looking at the Spitfire vs Bf 109, F4F Wildcat vs A6M Zero, La 5/7 vs Fw 190 and F4U Corsair vs Ki-84 Frank, an interesting cross section of the fighter battles of the Second World War. Some are more crucial than others, but all are interesting, and the book costs less than buying any two of the existing volumes, so is good value for money (Read Full Review)
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Eisenhower's Thorn on the Rhine - The Battle for the Colmar Pocket, 1944-45, Nathan N. Prefer. Looks at the fighting on the southern end of the Allied front in France in 1944-45, where American and French troops attempted to reach the Rhine, while the Germans held on to Colmar and parts of southern Alsace. Traces the course of the battle as well as the problems faced by the commanders on both sides of this hard fought backwater, at a time when both sides were running short of men but still had ambitious aims (Read Full Review)
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16 June 2019

Fontenoy 1745 - Cumberland's Bloody Defeat, Michael McNally. Looks at a key French victory during the War of the Austrian Succession, where the British infantry enhanced their reputation after advancing into a trap and nearly winning an improbably victory despite being attacked from three sides. Traces the campaign that led to the British being drawn into that trap, and the failures elsewhere on the battlefield that meant that the famous infantry attack had little real chance of success, leading to a French victory that began a successful conquest of the Austrian Netherlands (Read Full Review)
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General Sir Ralph Abercromby and the French Revolutionary Wars, 1792-1801, Carole Divall. A biography of one of the more competent British generals of the Revolutionary Wars, killed at the height of his success during the expulsion of the French from Egypt. Inevitably most of his experiences during the Revolutionary War came during the unsuccessful campaigns in northern Europe, but he managed to emerge from these campaigns with his reputation largely intact, and won fame with his death during a successful campaign. An interesting study of a less familiar part of the British struggle against revolutionary France (Read Full Review)
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The Royal Navy 1793-1800 – Birth of a Superpower, Mark Jessop. An unusual approach to the history of the Royal Navy during the Revolutionary Wars, with each chapter starting with an account of the life of a semi-fictional character, tracing their experiences in key aspects of the war, before moving on to a more historical narrative.  Covers the main events of the war, including the early battles, the mutinies, and the various theatres of war, as well as the life of the normal sailor(Read Full Review)
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9 June 2019

Victoria Crosses on the Western Front - Somme 1916, 1 July 1916-13 November 1916, Paul Oldfield. Splits the story into two halves, first a series of narratives of the various stages of the battle looking at the context of how the VCs were won, and then a longer section of biographies, covering the lives of VC holders themselves as well as their families. The first half provides a readable narrative of the battle and it’s Victoria Crosses, the second half is much more of a reference work(Read Full Review)
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Verdun - The Left Bank, Christina Holstein. Looks at the key battles on the left bank of the Meuse at Verdun, which saw the Germans attempt to capture a series of French viewpoints that allowed their artillery to hit the Germans operating on the right bank. Two thirds of the book provides a history of these bitter battles, the final third provides three tours of this generally unvisited area. One of the better examples of this genre, with good clear narratives that explain why these battles were so important, and give a clear idea of their progress without getting bogged down, supported by three tours that provide extra context to the fighting (Read Full Review)
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Bombers Fly East - WWII Operations in the Middle & Far East, Martin W. Bowman. A variety of stories of bomber operations over the Mediterranean, eastern Europe, North Africa, the Middle and Far East (despite the title), covering quite a range of missions and different aspects of the bomber campaign. Some are based on the memoirs of a single individual, others are more general histories of part of the air war, so there is quite a bit of variety, and the stories themselves are generally very interesting (Read Full Review)
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26 May 2019

The Composite Bow, Mike Loades. A splendid examination of this complex but elegant weapon, looking at its construction, the skills needed to use it effectively, the types of bows, arrows and supporting equipment in use, the different national traditions and the military use of the bow by both mounted and foot soldiers. An impressive book that packs a great deal of information into its 80 pages, and greatly benefits from its author's own experience as an archer (Read Full Review)
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Sir Alan Cobham – The Flying Legend who brought Aviation to the Masses, Colin Cruddas. A biography of one of the most famous British airmen of the inter-war period, a pioneer of long distance aviation, publicist for air power (running a series of popular touring air shows) and a pioneer of air-to-air refuelling, most famous for ‘Cobham’s Flying Circus’, four years of touring air shows that were seen by 75% of wartime aircrew volunteers!(Read Full Review)
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German Destroyers, Robert Brown. A guide to the German destroyers of the Second World War targeting those who wish to build models of these modern but flawed warships. Lots of good detail on their technical specs, physical appearance and how it changed over time, along with reviews of the various kits available, and examples of some high quality builds. Could do with brief service histories, but otherwise useful (Read Full Review)
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19 May 2019

Period Ship Modelmaking – An Illustrated Masterclass, Philip Reed. A lavishily illustrated account of the creation of two models of the American privateer Prince de Neufchatel, one waterline model and one with a full hull. I’ve no idea how useful it will be for the ship modeller, not being an experienced scratch builder, but it is a very pretty book, and the end results are very impressive. Most of the work is covered in great detail (apart from the original creation of the ship’s hull, which only gets a single short paragraph!)(Read Full Review)
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Aboard the Farragut Class Destroyers in World War II, Leo Block. Looks at life onboard the eight ships of the Farragut class, the first newly designed destroyers built for the US Navy after the First World War, and the prototypes for the ‘1,500 ton’ destroyers. Written by a veteran of these ships, using his own knowledge and the memories of the decreasing number of surviving crewmen to produce an in-depth picture of the life of the enlisted men on these small but hard hitting warships(Read Full Review)
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War Bows, Mike Loades. Looks at the longbow, crossbow, composite bow and Japanese Yumi, largely based on previously published Osprey books, but updated for this combined edition. Brings together four fascinating topics to provide a useful overview of the many types of war bow that were used from western Europe to Japan, and the varied types of archery that developed around them.  Useful to have all four together in a single volume, allowing a more direct comparison between the different types(Read Full Review)
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12 May 2019

A Military History of China, David Richard Petriello. An ambitious attempt to cover several thousand years of Chinese history in a single volume, from the earlier legends to the conflicts of Communist China. A generally successful book, despite getting a little too bogged down in the fine details of many of the ancient and medieval campaigns, with a useful examination of the motivation behind China’s external wars. Supported by over 100 maps, which make it easier to trace the course of events and identify the very many kingdoms that appeared in the area now covered by modern China (Read Full Review)
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Waterloo - The Campaign of 1815 Volume 2 - From Waterloo to the Restoration of Peace in Europe, John Hussey. A good history of Waterloo and its aftermath using the most recent research and ignoring long held ideas that have since been disproved. Has a useful focus on the command decisions made by the senior leaders on each side, and how they impacted on the eventual result of the campaign. Provides a well balanced examination of the successes and mistakes on both sides, as well as placing Waterloo in the wider context of the 1815 campaign (Read Full Review)
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Empire and Espionage, Spies in the Zulu War, Stephen Wade. Looks at the use of military intelligence by both sides in the Zulu War, demonstrating that the Zulus actually began the war with the better intelligence capabilities, and a clearer idea of their opponents plans and abilities than the British did. Also looks at the wider context of British military intelligence, including its development over time and its place in the world of the 1870s and Britain’s increasing obsession about Russian expansionism, including a fear that they might be about to attack the Suez canal, cutting the British Empire in half(Read Full Review)
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14 April 2019

F4U Corsair vs Ki-84 'Frank' Pacific Theatre 1945, Edward M. Young. Looks at the development of these two advanced fighters, the training of their pilots and the handful of clashes between the two types – only around twenty in total, mainly over the Japanese Home Islands and Okinawa. Includes good sections on the development of the two fighters, the training of their pilots, with a detailed look at the limited number of clashes between them. An interesting read that does demonstrate some of the flaws in some entries in this series, in this case that the clash being examined wasn’t an especially important part of the overall battle in the air (Read Full Review)
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Murat’s Army - The Army of the Kingdom of Naples 1806-1815, Digby Smith. A very pretty book, based on the paintings of Henri Boiselier, produced in the first half of the 20th Century. The book is dominated by full colour, full page reproductions of his illustrations of the many and varied uniforms worn in Murat’s small and not terribly effective army of Naples. Each comes with a brief caption that explains what we are looking at, and any errors in the original painting (normally fairly trivial).(Read Full Review)
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Apache Warrior vs US Cavalryman, Sean McLachlan. Looks at the forty-year long struggle between the US Cavalry and the Apache tribes of the US south-west, which lasted from the US conquest of the area in 1848 to the final surrender of Geronimo in 1886. Benefits from focusing on the two main combatants in these was – the entire fighting force of the Apache tribes and the US Cavalry, to present an overview of how the conflict was eventually won by the United States(Read Full Review)
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31 March 2019

Cruiser Birmingham - detailed in the original builder’s plans, Conrad Waters. Fascinating study of the cruiser, built around the builder’s plans from 1937, the wartime refit of 1943 and the major reconstruction of 1952. These are impressively well drawn, colourful documents, that contain a wealth of detailed information on the layout of these cruisers, allowing us both to appreciate the care and attention required to produce these powerful weapons of war, and their second nature as a large floating village, complete with band, workshops, kitchens, and eventually a cinema(Read Full Review)
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Saladin and the Fall of Jerusalem, Stanley Lane-Poole. Originally published in 1898, but relying mainly on Arabic sources written by Saladin’s contemporaries, supported by accounts of the Third Crusade for the later part of the book. Provides a very readable account of Saladin’s career, from his unexpected promotion to ruler of Egypt, through his conquest of Syria and on to the defeat of the Crusaders at Hattin, the conquest of Jerusalem and the successful defence of the city against the forces of the Third Crusade. Generally favourable towards Saladin, although without becoming overly biased, and largely accurate due to the reliance on the main contemporary sources(Read Full Review)
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Operation Barbarossa 1941 - Hitler against Stalin, Christer Bergström. A splendid account of Operation Barbarossa that clears away many of the misrepresentations that have often distorted our picture of this massive campaign. Takes advantage of the opening of Soviet archives after the fall of the Soviet Union to provide a balance to the more readily available German sources, and relies more on working documents and contemporary reports than on the often badly biased post-war memoirs. Gives a clear idea of how the Germans won their early victories, the surprise of their collapse outside Moscow at the end of the year, and of the importance of both German and Soviet aviation in the eventual result of the conflict (Read Full Review)
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17 March 2019

The Great Illyrian Revolt – Rome’s Forgotten War in the Balkans, AD 6-9, Jason R Abdale. Looks at one of the most costly wars fought during the reign of Augustus, a massive rebellion in the Balkans that eventually sucked in fifteen Roman legions, as well as Augustus’s heir Tiberius and marking the start of the military career of Germanicus. Perhaps a little too prone to including speculation to fill gaps, but does make it clear where the evidence runs out and the guesswork begins. Fills an important gap in the military history of this crucial period in Roman history(Read Full Review)
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Stopping Hitler - An Official Account of How Britain Planned to Defend itself in the Second World War, Captain G.C. Wynne. Starts with an official account of Britain’s defensive plans from 1933 to 1945, produced in 1948, followed by a series of wartime documents that provide the concrete details of the plans. A fascinating look at how the British military perceived the threat from Germany, how that changed over time, and how the various types of invasions were expected to be defeated(Read Full Review)
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Battleship Warspite –detailed in the original builder’s plans, Robert Brown. Fascinating study of the Warspite based around the original builder’s plans, both from her original contruction and the 1930s reconstruction. Shows the ship in incredible detail, showing just how complex these massive warships were. The details plans are accompanied by excellent explanatory notes, following the design, development and modifications of the Warspite over nearly forty years. Benefits from the use of a magnifying glass to pick out the impressive wealth of fine details!(Read Full Review)
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10 March 2019

Battles on the Seven Seas - German Cruiser Battles 1914-1918, Gary Staff. Looks at the activities of German cruisers during the First World War, covering the major naval battles in the North Sea, the exploits of the surface raiders early in the war, the role of the two German cruisers in Turkish service and the limited fighting in the Baltic. A useful counter to the tendancy to see these events from the British point of view, made possible by the author’s impressive use of German sources(Read Full Review)
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Augustus at War - the struggle for the Pax Augusta, Lindsay Powell. A year-by-year study of all of the wars fought during Augustus’s reign, covering a suprising amount of offensive wars, in which Augustus and his generals doubled the size of the Roman Empire. Looks at both the central role of Augustus and his family and the part played by other Roman aristocrats, who were still willing to struggle for glory during this period, buying in to the idea that the Republic still existed under Augustus(Read Full Review)
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The Liberation of Europe 1944-1945 - The Photographers who Captured History from D-Day to Berlin, Mark Barnes. A photographic history of the campaign in north-western Europe, as seen by the photographs of the newspaper group that owned The Times during the Second World War. Covers a wide range of topics, from the D-Day landings to the post-war Nuremburg Trials, with interesting notes on the technical aspects of war photography in the period, as well as detailed captions often based on the original wartime notes(Read Full Review)
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3 March 2019

Offa and the Mercian Wars - the Rise & Fall of the First Great English Kingdom, Chris Peers. Looks at the rise and fall of Mercia, the dominant English power of the Eighth Century, first emerging under the pagan Penda, before reaching its greatest power under Offa, one of the greatest of the Anglo-Saxon kings. Does a good job of dealing with the more obscure corners of Mercian history, and tells the interesting story of a kingdom that might have formed the nucleus of a united England (Read Full Review)
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Waterloo - Rout & Retreat, the French Perspective, Andrew W. Field. Looks at the least familiar part of the Waterloo campaign, the French retreat in the aftermath of the battle, their attempts to restore some order in the defeat army and perhaps defend Paris, and the political attempts to negotiate a peace without an Allied occupation of Paris. Based on eyewitness accounts of the period, this paints an unvarnished picture of the collapse of an army and the increasingly uncertain attempts to try and organise a defence of Paris (Read Full Review)
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Greek and Macedonian Land Battles of the 4th Century BC, Fred Eugene Ray Jr. Looks at 187 battles fought during one of the most dramatic centuries of Ancient History, a period that started with Sparta the dominant power of Greece and ended with the successors of Alexander the Great squabbling over the ruins of his Empire. An interesting study of a period in which Greek warfare evolved dramatically, ending the dominance of the simple Hoplite army and seeing the rise of cavalry as a battle winning weapon (Read Full Review)
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24 February 2019

America's Commandos: U.S. Special Operations Forces of World War II and Korea, Leroy Thompson. Starts with a brief overview of the creation and use of American special force units during the Second World War and in Korea, before moving onto a good but not well organised selection of photographs. Does its job of illustrating the uniforms and equipment of these units, but needs chapter headings! (Read Full Review)
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Agent Michael Trotobas and SOE in Northern France, Steward Kent & Nick Nicholas. A compelling account of the creation of one of the more successful SOE circuits in northern France, the death of its charismatic leader and creator, and its activities after his death. Includes a satisfying large amount of information about the ‘Farmer’ circuit’s operations, as well as the events that led to Trotobas’s death. Also provides an insight into the problems that can be caused by placing unsuitable agents into the field, where everyone had to trust each other, often under intense pressure(Read Full Review)
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Clan Fabius Defenders of Rome - A History of the Republic’s Most Illustrious Family, Jeremiah McCall. Traces the history of one of the most important families in the early and middle Republic, from their legendary origins, through the Samnite Wars and peaking with the career of the famous ‘delayer’, a key figure in the Second Punic War who played a major part in saving the city from Hannibal. Finishes with the slow decline of the family, which began before the collapse of the Republic, and ended as the family disappeared from the records in the early Empire.(Read Full Review)
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17 February 2019

Time Stood Still in a Muddy Hole - Captain John Hannaford, one of the last Bomb Disposal Officers of WWII, Pat Strickson. A biography of one of the longest surviving Bomb Disposal Officers, inspired by the discovery of one of his post-war paints on sale in a local shop soon after his death, tracing his route into bomb disposal, his experiences in the field, as well as focusing on the author’s motivation for writing the book, and the progress of their research efforts. A compelling and often poignant story of a very brave man, thrust into one of the most dangerous jobs of the entire war(Read Full Review)
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Sailors behind the Medals - Waging War at Sea 1939-1945, Chris Bilham. Gives brief overviews of the careers of twenty three medal winning members of the Royal Navy during the Second World War, illustrating just how varied the experiences of different sailors could be. Covers the entire naval career of each man, rather than just their medal winning exploits, and focuses on the general experiences of their ships more than their individual life stories. (Read Full Review)
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Operation Agreement - Jewish Commandos and the Raid on Tobruk, John Sadler. Looks at a disastrous raid on Tobruk carried out just before the battle of El Alamein in an attempt to disrupt Rommel’s supply lines, but that ended as a total failure, with the loss of most of the troops that got into combat, as well as two destroyers and a cruiser. Provides a good case study of how not to mount a Special Forces operation, starting with not basing your plans on wishful thinking and not over-complicating things!(Read Full Review)
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3 February 2019

Setting France Ablaze - the SOE in France during WWII, Peter JacobsSetting France Ablaze - the SOE in France during WWII, Peter Jacobs. Looks at the activities of SOE in the organisation’s main theatre of operations, tracing the slow and often costly expansion of SOE’s activities, which finally paid off in 1944, when the organisation’s networks helped to delay and distract the Germans at key moments, slowing down the arrival of reinforcements in Normandy and forcing the Germans to leave troops in less important areas. Perhaps has a little too much focus on the failures and the loss of so many agents, but otherwise a good account of the organisation’s activities(Read Full Review)
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Bradley vs BMP Desert Storm 1991, Mike Guardia. Looks at the first clash between the main Soviet and American infantry fighting vehicles, when US troops clashed with the Iraqis in Operation Desert Storm. Includes a good technical history of the two vehicles as well as an account of their role in Desert Storm, where the Bradley was by far the more effective of the two vehicles, despite the BMP having some technical advantages (Read Full Review)
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March by Moonlight - A Bomber Command Story of Ops and Evasion, Captivity and Friendship, Jack Love & Barry Love. A fascinating autobiography focusing on the co-author’s initial evasion attempts after his aircraft crash landed in France, and then his time in a series of POW camps, including the famous Stalag Luft III. Includes a compelling tale of an almost successful attempt to evade capture after the crash, followed by Jack’s time in the camps, and his observations on the life of the average POW, not involved in the constant efforts to escape(Read Full Review)
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27 January 2019

Spy of the Century – Alfred Redl & The Betrayal of Austro-Hungary, John Sadler & Silvie Fisch. Looks at one of the most famous spies of the period before the First World War, simultaneously the head of the Austro-Hungarian counter-espionage service and a Russian spy. A potentially interesting story that really needs to be better organised than it is here in order to give a clearer picture of what Redl actually did and what impact it might have had (Read Full Review)
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Pharaoh Seti I - Father of Egyptian Greatness, Nicky Nielsen. Excellent biography of the father of Ramesses II, tracing the key developments of his decade long reign, which saw Egypt recover from a period of religious and dynastic confusion, and set the stage for the long reign of his more famous son. Traces his early life, military campaigns and monumental construction projects as well as some of the more ordinary aspects of life in Seti’s Egypt. The author makes a good case for seeing Seti’s reign as key to the success of his son(Read Full Review)
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The Royal Navy's Air Service in the Great War, David Hobbs. An impressive history of the RNAS, the organisation that developed many of the principles of naval aviation while under intense pressure during the First World War, only to disappear into the RAF in 1918. Traces the impressive development of the service, which ended the war on the verge of attempting a massed torpedo bomber attack on the German fleet in its anchorages, a precursor of Taranto and Pearl Harbor that was only abandoned because of the end of the war (Read Full Review)
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20 January 2019

Nanjing 1937 - Battle for a Doomed City, Peter Harmsen. A compelling but rather depressing look at the campaign that ended with the sack of Nanjing, one of the most serious Japanese war crimes of the Sino-Japanese War. Looks at the way in which the Japanese army in China slipped out of the control of the leaders at home, the advance to Nanjing, the siege of the city and the six-week long sack that followed (Read Full Review)
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Real War Horses - The Experiences of the British Cavalry 1814-1914, Anthony Dawson. Looks at the performance of the British cavalry from Waterloo to the first year of the First World War, the last hundred years of classic cavalry warfare, and one in which the quality of the British cavalry varied quite alarmingly, probably reaching a peak of efficiently towards the very end of the period. Starts with a brief overview of how the cavalry was organised, before concentrating on eyewitness accounts of life in the cavalry, mainly using letters home, many published in the press at the time. The result is as atmospheric study of the last century in which the cavalry was a major battle winning weapon (Read Full Review)
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The Waterloo Archive Volume V: German Sources, ed. Gareth Glover. A super selection of sources translated from German, reflecting the experience of the numerically most important nation at Waterloo, with Germans making up a sizable part of Wellington’s army, as well as Blucher’s Prussians. Almost entirely focuses on those troops in British or Dutch service, with the Prussians getting a single article. Covers the cavalry, artillery and six infantry divisions, as well as an inquiry into the behaviour of part of the medical corps. A useful selection of sources not previously available in English(Read Full Review)
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23 December 2018

Medieval Warfare Vol VII, Issue 5: Chaos and  Civil War in Flanders - the death of Charles  the GoodMedieval Warfare Vol VII, Issue 5: Chaos and Civil War in Flanders - the death of Charles the Good. Focuses on the civil war that followed the assassination of Charles the Good in 1127, mainly as seen by the contemporary chronicler Galbert of Bruges, who was actually caught up in the events he described, and provides us with one of the more involving and detailed accounts of a medieval conflict. [read full review]
Wellington's Brigade Commanders - Peninsula and Waterloo, Ron McGuigan and Robert Burnham. A very useful reference work giving four or five page biographies of the surprisingly large group of men who commanded brigades in Wellington’s armies in the Peninsula or during the Waterloo campaign, covering just over sixty men. Covers a wide range of careers, from men who commanded a brigade for less than a month to those who served under Wellington for most of the Peninsula Campaign and at Waterloo, such as Denis Pack.(Read Full Review)
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The Queen's American Rangers, Donald J. Gara. A history of the unit first raised by Robert Rogers early in the American War of Independence, but that was soon taken from him, and that eventually gained an impressive reputation, become one of only four Loyalist units to be incorporated into the British Army. During that time they took part in a wide range of activities, fighting at some of the major battles of the war (including Yorktown), as well as acting as light infantry and taking part in many of the small scale raids (Read Full Review)
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16 December 2018

Medieval Warfare Vol VII, Issue 3: Jousts and TournamentsMedieval Warfare Vol VII, Issue 3: Jousts and Tournaments. Entirely focuses on the medieval tournament, covering a wide timespan from the First Crusade to the end of the Middle Ages, where the formal tournament made something of a comeback. Includes a look at some most unusual contests, such as the Ghent Crossbow Tournament, the wide appeal of the tournament and the way in which it evolved over time. [read full review]
Medieval Warfare Vol VII, Issue 3: Jousts and TournamentsMedieval Warfare Vol VII, Issue 3: Jousts and Tournaments. Entirely focuses on the medieval tournament, covering a wide timespan from the First Crusade to the end of the Middle Ages, where the formal tournament made something of a comeback. Includes a look at some most unusual contests, such as the Ghent Crossbow Tournament, the wide appeal of the tournament and the way in which it evolved over time. [read full review]
Medieval Warfare Vol VII, Issue 4: The Battle of Hattin - Fighting for the Holy LandMedieval Warfare Vol VII, Issue 4: The Battle of Hattin - Fighting for the Holy Land. Focuses on the career of Saladin, looking at his place in the Middle East, his greatest successes and the less successful aftermath of the fall of Jerusalem. Also looks at the place of the Crusader Kingdoms in the Middle East, which was more complex than is normally acknowledged, and away from the theme covers the battle of Sandwich and the Teutonic Knights. [read full review]

 

9 December 2018

Byzantine Naval Forces 1261-1461 - The Roman Empire's Last Marines, Raffaele D'Amato. Looks at the last naval forces of the Roman Empire, existing for two centuries between the Greek re-conquest of Byzantium and the fall of the city to the Ottomans. Supported by a wide range of colourful examples of Byzantine paintings and manuscript illustrations that give us a really vivid picture of this final period of Roman naval power (Read Full Review)
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Gunfire! British Artillery in World War II, Stig H. Moberg. A very detailed examination of how British artillery operated during the Second World War, focusing on how the guns were actually used, looking at the ballistics of the artillery, how individual guns were aimed and how batteries were combined and controlled to produce the flexible, devastating firepower that made the Royal Artillery the most effective part of the British army during the Second World War, and a genuine battle winning weapon (Read Full Review)
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From Marne to Verdun - The War Diary of Captain Charles Delvert, 101st Infantry 1914-1916, Charles Delvert. The compelling war diaries of a French officer who found in some of the costliest battles of the first half of the First World War, including the battle of the Frontiers, the Marne, the Race to the Sea and most famously at Verdun. Gives us both an insight into life in the French army during the first part of the war, and into some of the costliest battles of the conflict. Mainly light-hearted in tone, the dark moments thus stand out far more (Read Full Review)
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2 December 2018

De Havilland Enterprises - A History, Graham M. Simons. Looks at the impressive range of aircraft produced by de Havilland, from the earliest flimsy biplanes, to the versatile Mosquito and on to the post-war jet age, including the famous Comet, the first jet airliner. A useful reference for anyone interested in de Havilland, and also a guide to just how far aircraft came in a single lifetime. Well illustrated and informative, this book covers an impressive amount of ground in just over 300 pages (Read Full Review)
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On A Knife’s Edge - The Ukraine, November 1942-March 1943, Prit Buttar. Looks at one of the crucial periods on the Eastern Front, covering the last stages of the German attack on Stalingrad, the Soviet counterattack that cut off the Sixth Army, the failed German relief efforts, the extraction of German forces from the Caucasus, the Soviet liberation of Kharkov and Manstein’s skilful counterattack that saw the city fall back into German hands and stabilised the front before the spring thaw ended campaigning for the moment(Read Full Review)
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Germany in the Great War - The Opening Year, Joshua Bilton. An impressive range of photographs, covering almost all aspects of the fighting in the first year of the Great War as seen from the German side, often providing a strikingly different view of events. Also shows the difference between the Western and Eastern fronts, and the far flung battles that saw Germany lose most of its colonial Empire, as well as the war at sea, which again the Germans lost their overseas cruiser fleets after some early successes (Read Full Review)
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18 November 2018

German Weapons of World War II, Stephen Hart . Covers a wide range of the weapons used by the Third Reich during the Second World War, from the pistol up to the battleship Tirpitz, and including a wide range of tanks, armoured vehicles, aircraft, artillery etc. All supported by a mix of full colour illustrations and contemporary photographs, giving an idea of vast range of weapons produced by the Germans during the war (Read Full Review)
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Before the Battlecruiser - The Big Cruiser in the World’s Navies 1865-1910, Aidan Dodson. Looks at the development and careers of the ‘big cruiser’, the most heavily armed cruisers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and a type that eventually evolved in the battlecruiser. Covers the development of the type, its combat experience while still state of the art, its role in the First World War, as well as looking at the technical specifications of all of the ships that fell into this category (Read Full Review)
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The Long Range Desert Group in World War II, Gavin Mortimer. A history of the first of the British Special Forces, raised to gather intelligence behind enemy lines in North Africa, taking advantage of its members skill at crossing the desert. Perhaps most famous for supporting the SAS, the LRDG played an important role in the Allied victory in North Africa in its own right, and this book tells that fascinating story. Also followed the group out of the desert and into the Aegean, the Balkans and Italy, where attempts were found to find a use for their skills after the war in North Africa had been won (Read Full Review)
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11 November 2018

Russian Weapons of World War II, David Porter. A good overview of the weapons used by the Soviet Union during the Second World War, ranging from individual infantry weapons up to the battleships of the Soviet fleet, as well as the various lend lease items that supported the Soviet war effort. Well illustrated, acknowledges the problems dealing with Soviet sources, and accurate in areas of some confusion (such as the various types of artillery pieces in service) (Read Full Review)
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Attack on the Scheldt - The Struggle for Antwerp 1944, Graham A. Thomas. Looks at the hard fought battles to clear the approaches to the port of Antwerp along the lower stretches of the Scheldt, an area that was almost entirely suited to the defender, with much of it flooded and only a handful of narrow approaches along well defended causeways. Despite these problems, the Allies, led by the First Canadian Army, cleared the Scheldt in just over a month (Read Full Review)
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Erich Raeder - Admiral of the Third Reich, Keith W. Bird. Looks at the full career of the first commander-in-chief of Hitler’s navy, a man who was often overshadowed by his successor Donitz and his U-boat war, but who played a major part in shaping the Kriegsmarine, both physically and politically. Undermines his claims to have been a non-political leader, and shows how close he was to the Nazi leadership, before eventually their different views of Germany’s war aims, and Hitler’s rather unrealistic expectations of the Navy forced his resignation(Read Full Review)
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4 November 2018

Images of War: US Infantry Weapons of the Second World War, Michael Green. Covers a wide range of infantry and infantry support weapons, from the pistol and rifle, through machine guns and mortars and up to infantry guns and light tanks! Each chapter starts with a good sized piece of text examining the weapons in that section, followed by the individual pictures, each with a useful caption. A good photographic guide to the weapons used by the US Infantry during the Second World War (Read Full Review)
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Fortress Island Malta - Defence & Re-Supply During the Siege, Peter Jacobs. Looks at the aerial battles over the island, and the many attempts to run supplies through the Mediterranean to the island. Includes detailed accounts of many of the convoys that attempted to bring supplies into Malta, as well as accounts of some of the key aerial battles, and the shifting balance of power in the air, as the British flew fighters onto the island and the Germans committed, withdrew and re-committed their forces to the battle. A good readable account of one of the most significant battles in the Mediterranean theatre (Read Full Review)
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The British Civil Wars at Sea 1638-1653, Richard J. Blakemore and Elaine Murphy. Looks at one of the less familiar aspects of the Civil Wars, the conflict between Parliament’s Navy and their various opponents, including Royalist, Irish Confederate and Scottish warships and privateers, a conflict that lacked major naval battles, but that had a big impact on the course of many of the campaigns on land, and in particular the fighting in Ireland later in the wars(Read Full Review)
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23 September 2018

American Amphibious Gunboats in World War II, Robin L. Rielly. Looks at the creation of armed gunboats based on the Landing Craft, Infantry (LCI), at first as a weapon for use against Japanese barges and later used to support amphibious landings and to defend against suicide boats and kamikaze attacks. An impressive example of how an improvised weapon could turn into a vital weapon, playing a major part in the second half of the Pacific War, and especially at Okinawa (Read Full Review)
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Voices from the Peninsula - Eyewitness Accounts by Soldiers of Wellington's Army, 1808-1814, ed. Ian Fletcher. Covers the long series of campaigns fought by Wellington’s army, from the initial victories at Rolica and Vimeiro to the eventually invasion of France, when his troops became the first Allied troops to cross onto French soil as the net closed in on Napoleon. Uses a wide range of authors to bring us into the heart of the action, and to give us accounts of many of the key moments of Wellington’s many victories as well as his rare setbacks(Read Full Review)
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In the Legions of Napoleon - the Memoirs of a Polish Officer in Spain and Russia 1808-1813, Henrich von Brandt. The memoirs of a Polish officer from a German background who served with the French from 1808-1813, covering the four years he spent in Spain and the disastrous invasion of Russia of 1812. Provides a rather different viewpoint on these famous campaigns, especially in Spain, where Brandt fought in a part of the war rarely covered by British memoirs. Also includes some more lighthearted moments from Spain, as well as a vivid account of the disastrous retreat from Spain (Read Full Review)
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16 September 2018

Conquerors of the Roman Empire: The Goths, Simon Macdowall. Looks at the long period of interaction between the various Gothic tribes and the Roman Empire, as well as the post-Roman history of the two main Gothic kingdoms in Italy and Spain. Produces a more complex picture than the normal image of the Goths as simply rampaging destroyers of the Empire, showing that Rome and the Goths were allies almost as often as enemies, and looking at the brief attempt to produce a combined Roman and Gothic society in Italy (Read Full Review)
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Panzer I & II Blueprint for Blitzkrieg 1933-1941, Robert Jackson . A well illustrated history of the Panzer I and Panzer II, the most numerous German tanks of the early Blitzkrieg victories, and still present in very large numbers at the start of Operation Barbarossa, by which time they were utterly outclassed. Covers their development, technical specifications, variants and modified vehicles using the same chassis and their combat record, all supported by a good selection of photographs and plans (Read Full Review)
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Napoleon and the Archduke Charles - A History of the Franco-Austrian Campaign in the valley of the Danube 1809, F. Loraine Petre. Covers Napoleon’s final victorious campaign, the hard fought victory over Austria that also saw him suffer his first significant battlefield defeat at Aspern-Essling, as well as the eventual victory at Wagram. Traces the failures and successes of both senior commanders, and the early signs of a reduction in the quality of the French army. A good account despite being over a century old(Read Full Review)
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9 September 2018

M50 Ontos and M56 Scorpion 1956-70 - US Tank Destroyers of the Vietnam War, Kenneth W. Estes. Looks at two very light tank destroyers developed for the Cold War but that never saw action against enemy army, but instead saw limited use as infantry support weapons during the Vietnam War. Both were seen as expendable weapons, combining heavy firepower with a light and easy to produce vehicle, but neither was produced in very large numbers, both were made obsolete by anti-tank missiles (Read Full Review)
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German Military Vehicles of World War II, Jean-Denis G.G. Lepage. Main focus is on soft skinned, unarmed vehicles - trucks, cars, bikes etc, but also covers half tracks and armoured cars. For me the soft skinned section is a useful reference, if a bit dry, while the half track and armoured car section is more interesting, covering some of the more famous combat vehicles of the Second World War as well as their less successful contemporaries (Read Full Review)
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Professor Porsche’s Wars, Karl Ludvigsen. A study of the military aspects of Fredinand Porsche’s career, spanning a wide range of activities from First World War artillery tractors to the vast Maus tank, and including his most successful military design, the Beetle based Kubelwagen. A well balanced account of a long and active career that actually produced a surprisingly small number of militarily significant products.(Read Full Review)
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2 September 2018

Sparta - Rise of a Warrior Nation, Philip Matyszak. An interesting fast paced history of Sparta, starting with the earliest inhabitants of the site that became Sparta, tracing the rise of the city and the evolution of its unusual institutions, and up to the high point of Sparta’s status, the battle of Plataea, the final defeat of the most dangerous of the Persian invasions of Greece, focusing on the earlier period. (Read Full Review)
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The Battle of Glendale - The Day the South Nearly Won the Civil War, Jim Stempel. Looks at one of the more obscure of the Seven Day’s Battles, the least organised stage of the Union retreat and the best chance the Confederates had to inflict a heavy defeat on McClellan’s retreating forces, left without an overall commander while attempting to retreat south to a secure base, giving Lee a chance to attack from the west and potentially cut the Union line into two parts (Read Full Review)
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Fighter Aircraft Since 1945, Frank Schwede. This book falls into something of a gap between the two main types of aircraft books - detailed examinations of individual types and encyclopaedic books covering as many types as possible. Instead the author has chosen to provide medium sized articles covering a smaller selection of the most important types. Organised by area, then manufacturer and finally by date, but without losing the overall picture of fighter development (Read Full Review)
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26 August 2018

Madness in Mogadishu, Michael Whetstone. The story of one of the infantry commanders involved in the ‘Black Hawk Down’ incident in Mogadishu, taking part in the rescue mission. Whetstone tells a fascinating story, and gives us an insight into a successful infantry unit, looking at the training, attitude and skills required to overcome heavy odds to achieve their objectives and escape with light losses.(Read Full Review)
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The Battle of Monroe's Crossroads and the Civil War's Final Campaign, Eric Wittenberg. A study of the final major cavalry battle of the American Civil War, a Confederate surprise attack that achieved initial success before the Union forces rallied and regained control of the battlefield. Looks at the two forces involved, the battle itself and its impact on the remaining few weeks of the Civil War. The author is perhaps a little over-impressed with the initial Confederate success, but other than that this is a well balanced account of a relatively obscure but interesting late Civil War battle (Read Full Review)
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Emperor Alexander Severus - Rome’s Age of Insurrection, AD 222-236, John S. McHugh. A biography of the last Severan emperor (admittedly one with a very limited link to the founder of the dynasty), looking at the turbulent life and times of the last emperor before the start of the Third Century Crisis. An interesting look at how an Emperor from a dynasty of political outsiders managed to survive for a surprisingly long time, despite coming to the throne as a child (Read Full Review)
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19 August 2018

Decisive Victory - the Battle of the Sambre, 4 November 1918, Derek Clayton. Looks at the BEF’s last major battle of the First World War, in which the Germans were forced out of their last prepared defensive line in a single day, marking the start of the final collapse of German resistance and the start of the rush to the Armistice. Aims to look at the level of skill displayed by the BEF towards the end of the victorious 100 Days campaign, tracing the balance between skill, experience and exhaustion(Read Full Review)
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Gaius Marius - The Rise and Fall of Rome’s Saviour, Marc Hyden. Looks at the career of one of the key figures in the fall of the Roman Republic, a general whose victories saved the Republic from foreign invasion, but whose ambition helped trigger the series of civil wars that saw its eventual collapse into chaos that only ended with the victory of Augustus and the foundation of the Empire. A good biography of an important historical figure, aimed at the general reader rather than the specialist in Roman history (Read Full Review)
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Aircraft of the Luftwaffe 1935-1945, Jean-Denis G.G. Lepage. Combines a good background history of the Luftwaffe with a comprehensive examination of its aircraft, from the biplanes of the mid 1930s to the main wartime aircraft and on to the seemingly unending range of experimental designs that wasted so much effort towards the end of the war. A useful general guide that provides an impressively wide range of information on almost every element of the Luftwaffe (Read Full Review)
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12 August 2018

Medieval Warfare Vol VI, Issue 1: Reign of the Leper King - The Kingdom of JeruslemMedieval Warfare Vol VI, Issue 1: Reign of the Leper King - The Kingdom of Jeruslem . Focuses on the later years of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, and in particular the reign of Baldwin IV, the Leper King, a short-lived but fairly effective king who managed to hold off the rising power of Saladin. Also looks at Odin's reputation as a warrior, the military career of St. Francis of Assisi, the Grand Chevauchee of 1355 and the purpose built war wagons of the Hussites [see more]
Medieval Warfare Vol VI, Issue 3: Legacy of Ancient Rome - The Byzantine-Sassanid WarsMedieval Warfare Vol VI, Issue 3: Legacy of Ancient Rome - The Byzantine-Sassanid Wars . Focuses on the later wars between Byzantium and her eastern neighbours, the Sassanids, a series of conflicts that left both powers exhausted and unable to resist the Arab conquests. Covers the main course of the final war, the armour of the Sassanids, Byzantine commanders, the motives of the defeated Sassanid emperor and the final events of the war. Also looks at Japanese and English longbows, the Livonian crusades and the battle of Loch Lochy. [see more]
Medieval Warfare Vol VI, Issue 6: The Masses are Rising – The German Peasant's RevoltMedieval Warfare Vol VI, Issue 6: The Masses are Rising – The German Peasant's Revolt . Focuses on the German Peasant's Revolt, one of the more famous of the surprisingly rare large scale peasant's revolts, and no more successful than any of the others, despite coming at a time of religious turmoil and affecting large parts of the German speaking world.  Looks at why the revolt started, who took part in it and why it failed. Also looks at the soldier in 16th century art, the Norman royal forests and the military flail. [see more]

5 August 2018

Formidable - A True Story of disaster and courage, Steve R. Dunn. Looks at the full story behind the loss of HMS Formidable, a British battleship sunk by a U-boat on 1 January 1915 while under the overall command of an Admiral who at that point didn’t accept that the submarine posed a threat to his fleet. Sections on why she was lost and who was to blame are balanced by detailed examinations of the fate of her crew, the dependents of those lost with her and the public reaction to her lose to produce a useful account of this naval disaster(Read Full Review)
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Hold at All Costs! The Epic Battle of Delville Wood 1916, Ian Uys. A very detailed look at the battle of Delville Wood, one of the most intense parts of the battle of the Somme, and an important battle for the South Africans, who held the wood against determined German counter attacks for the first few days of the battle. Does a good job of covering the battle from both sides, using detailed German sources to demonstrate that both sides suffered heavy losses during the fighting (Read Full Review)
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F-15C Eagle vs MiG-23/25 Iraq 1991, Douglas C. Dildy & Tom Cooper. Looks at the war in which the west realised that it’s best fighter aircraft outclassed their feared Soviet opponents, despite the limitations of the weapons it was armed with. Studies the background to the war, the development of the aircraft and their weapons, the way they were controlled, and the results of the limited number of clashes between the F-15s and the two Soviet types(Read Full Review)
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29 July 2018

Bomber Offensive, Sir Arthur Harris. The autobiography of Bomber Harris, giving his view of the strategic bombing campaign in its immediate aftermath. Invaluable for the insights it provides into Harris’s approach to the war, what he was trying to achieve and the problems he faced. Harris perhaps overstates his case, not entirely surprisingly given how soon after the end of the war this book was written (Read Full Review)
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Bac Si: A Green Beret Medic's War in Vietnam, Jerry Krizan and Robert Dumont. An unusual perspective on the Vietnam War, written by a Special Forces Medic serving at Loc Ninh, one of the more active Green Beret bases during his year in the country. As well as fighting alongside a Vietnamese Army force, he also had more contact with the locals that you find in many of these accounts. Nicely organised, largely by topics, the result is a valuable memoir looking at a less familiar part of the war (Read Full Review)
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The 1916 Battle of the Somme Reconsidered, Peter Liddle. A modified version of a 1992 original that attempted to produce a new perspective of the battle of the Somme, seeing it as an essential step towards the eventual Allied victory, both for the damage it did to the German army and the improvements it forced on the British, as well as looking at the contemporary views of the soldiers involved in the fighting, suggesting that the average soldier wasn’t the disillusioned figure painted by the war poets or of the post-war period(Read Full Review)
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22 July 2018

The Social History of English Seamen 1650-1815, ed. Cheryl A. Fury. A selection of articles looking at the live of British sailors during the period that saw the Royal Navy evolve into the foremost naval power in the world, after overcoming the trauma of the Civil Wars. A mix of general and very specific articles, the choice of an earlier than normal start date means that this covers some unfamiliar topics, and unfamiliar twists on familiar topics (Read Full Review)
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I, Horatio, Donald A. Tortorice. A novelised biography of Nelson, written from his point of view, and largely in the style of the period. Suffers from some historical errors, including minor matters of titles, and one major error about the status of Nelson’s ship at the battle of Cape St. Vincent, but the result is still a readable and fairly convincing life of Nelson, from an unusual point of view(Read Full Review)
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The Paper Caper, Tim Topps. A fun and generally light hearted spy caper, based in the immediate post-war period, at the start of the Cold War. After arriving at a large military depot in the Midlands, our hero is soon involved in an attempt to track down a Soviet sleeper agent, while at the same time running the base newspaper and getting involved in romances. An entertaining read, presumably rather loosely based on the author’s own experiences to give the convincing feel for the period(Read Full Review)
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15 July 2018

A Soldier for Napoleon - The Campaigns of Lieutenant Franz Joseph Hausmann, 7th Bavarian Infantry, ed John H. Gill. A look at the Bavarian Army’s role in the Napoleonic Wars, built around the war diaries and surviving letters of Franz Joseph Hausmann, a junior officer who served on many of Napoleon’s greatest campaigns, then on the opposite side during the invasion of France of 1814. Most valuable for the collection of letters from the Russian campaign of 1812, covering the activities of one of the flank armies that attempted to protect the Grande Armée as it advanced to Moscow and back(Read Full Review)
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Patricians and Emperors - the Last Rulers of the Western Roman Empire, Ian Hughes. Looks at the final decades of the Western Roman Empire, focusing on the series of short-lived Emperors, some of whom came tantalisingly close to winning significant victories, while others were shadowy non-entities who came and went without having any visible impact. Takes an interesting approach, organising the period by the Emperors and not by the series of military commanders who normally dominate the period, and as a result giving us a rather different view of the final years of the Empire in the west (Read Full Review)
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War Birds - The Diary of a Great War Pilot, Elliot White Springs. The compelling diaries of an American volunteer serving with the RFC and RAF during the First World War, covering his time in training, which became increasingly light-hearted (and drunken) and his six month long combat career during 1918. Provides a fascinating study of the way in which combat stress could affect someone, as well as the contrast between the fairly safe life on the airfield and the dangers in the air (Read Full Review)
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24 June 2018

The Typhoon Truce, 1970, Robert F. Curtis. Looks at the experiences of a Chinook helicopter unit during a rare example of a humanitarian truce during the Vietnam War, three days in which the unit focuses on rescuing Vietnamese villages cut off by floods caused by a massive typhoon. The events of the rescue mission are interesting, but the book is most valuable for its insights into the every day life of a transport unit operating over the war zone, but based in relative safety (Read Full Review)
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Lucullus – The Life and Campaigns of a Roman Conqueror, Lee Fratantuono. Looks at the public career of Lucius Lucullus, one of the less familiar Roman military and political figures in the dying days of the Roman Republic, a generally successful general who was unable to end the wars he had almost won, and who was overshadowed by his patron Sulla and his rival and replacement Pompey. Aimed at the general reader, so provides a concise narrative of the life of this important figure (Read Full Review)
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Kings and Kingship in the Hellenistic World 350-30 BC, John D Grainger. Looks at the nature of kingship in the years between Alexander the Great and the Roman conquest of the Hellenistic world, a period in which a surprising number of dynasties established themselves, and in some cases even flourished for centuries before disappearing. Organised thematically, so we see how the various dynasties differed, and more often how much they had in common. Also helps to explain how some of these apparently unstable dynasties managed to survive for so long (Read Full Review)
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Constantius II - Usurpers, Eunuchs and the Antichrist, Peter Crawford. Looks at the reign of one of the sons of Constantine the Great, and a rather controversial Roman emperor, despite being the victor in repeated civil wars and successfully defending the borders of the Empire against increasingly powerful opponents. Paints a picture of a more than capable ruler, let down by his poor choice of courtiers and possibly by a paranoid nature and a tendency to undermine his own subordinate rulers (Read Full Review)
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Hitler's Arctic War - The German Campaigns in Norway, Finland and the USSR 1940-1945, Chris Mann and Christer Jörgensen. Covers the fighting in Norway and Finland and the far north of the Soviet Union, from the Winter War to the victorious Soviet campaign that forced the Finns to change sides, as well as the battles around the Arctic Convoys, portrayed here as one of the great ‘missed chances’ of the German war effort. An interesting attempt to cover a wide range of topics loosely connected by their geographical location(Read Full Review)
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17 June 2018

Grouchy's Waterloo - The Battles of Ligny and Wavre, Andrew W. Field. Focuses on Marshal Grouchy’s performance during the key days of the Waterloo campaign - his own actions, the behaviour of his senior subordinates, Napoleon’s orders to him, and how they all combined to affect the outcome of the campaign. Covers some of the most controversial moments of the Waterloo campaign and the post-war battle of allocate blame for the French defeat(Read Full Review)
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Gold Run - The Rescue of Norway's Gold Bullion from the Nazis, April 1940, Robert Pearson. Looks at the successful attempt to save the last batch of Norwegian gold still in the country when the Germans invaded, a lengthy journey that saw the gold taken off in British warships from different ports, with some reaching Tromso in the far north of Norway before being evacuated! A tale of dedication to duty in very difficult circumstances (Read Full Review)
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Sea & Air Fighting – Those Who Were There, David Bilton. A series of lively accounts of air and naval exploits, clearly written while they were still fresh in the mind, and before the inter-war cynicism took root. As a result gives us a feel for how these actions must have felt at the time, covering an impressively wide range of topics. Serves as a reminder of the time the First World War was the most recent, most high technology war ever fought, and away from the trenches had more than enough dramatic incidents to fill several books like this (Read Full Review)
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Britain and the Widening War 1915-1916 – From Gallipoli to the Somme, ed. Peter Liddle. Covers a wide range of topics, from wartime to modern records of wartime archaeology, covering a rather wider date range than the title would suggest, and several articles that don’t directly relate to Britain. The result is an interesting selection of articles covering unusual aspects of the war, or unusual views of familiar topics such as Verdun or the Somme(Read Full Review)
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You Can't Get Much Closer Than This, A.Z. Adkins Jr and Andrew Z Adkins, III. The often moving diaries of Captain A. Z. Adkins, an officer in the 317th Infantry Regiment, 80th Division, tracing his experiences as he fought his way from Normandy to the end of the war, serving with a heavy weapons company and then with 81mm mortars. A vivid picture of what it was like to be under fire at the front line, the painful nature of the Allied progress across Europe, and the sudden change as German resistance finally broke in the last days of the war (Read Full Review)
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Seizing the Enigma - The Race to break the German U-Boat Codes, 1939-1943, David Kahn. A fascinating account of the struggle to crack the German Navy’s version of the Enigma, covering the development of the machine, the international efforts to break the code, and the long British efforts to get into the Navy Enigma, including the Navy expeditions to capture key parts of the machine and related documents. Does a good job of explaining this complex story, with the space to go into more detail of the specific naval aspects(Read Full Review)
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27 May 2018

Rommel in his own words, ed. Dr John Pimlott. Starts with his inter-war account of his First World War experiences, then moves on to the Second World War, with some material on the 1940 campaign and the defence of France, but with the largest section covering his famous campaigns in the desert of North Africa. Includes private letters, official reports and published works, giving us a range of Rommel’s public and private views(Read Full Review)
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Spearhead of the Fifth Army - the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment in Italy, from the Winter Line to Anzio, Frank van Lunteren. A very ‘up close’ study of the combat experiences of the 504th PIR, covering the advance to the Winter Line, the fighting at the Barbara and Bernhardt Lines and the regiments’ participation at Anzio. Very good on the day-to-day experiences of the combat troops, perhaps not so good on putting them in the wider context(Read Full Review)
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British Commando 1940-45, Angus Konstam. A overview of the British Commandos, focusing on what made them different to the regular army, the sort of skills they were required to have, the training that made sure they gained them, and the wide range of equipment that they carried into combat. Also includes a good ‘On Campaign’ section that gives an overview of the sort of experiences the Commandos underwent in combat, but focuses mainly on their training and skills(Read Full Review)
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20 May 2018

A Handful of Hard Men: The SAS and the Battle for Rhodesia, Hannes Wessels. Looks at the role of the Rhodesia SAS in the long struggle to maintain white minority rule. A good example of how a military organisation can be almost entirely successful within its own terms, while at the same time losing the war, as large areas of Rhodesia became ‘no go’ zones for the white population. An interesting study of what the Rhodesian SAS did, perhaps less successful on what they hoped to achieve(Read Full Review)
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The Anatomy of Glory - Napoleon and his Guard, Henry Lachouque & Anne S. K. Brown. A splendid study of Napoleon’s Imperial Guard, the most famous part of his military machine, taking us into their daily life as Napoleon’s favoured elite, and following its evolution from a small bodyguard for the Consuls into a massive army within an army, serving as the elite and the reserve of Napoleons army, and playing an increasingly important combat role as the wars turned against Napoleon. Follows the wars from the Guard’s point of view, so we get a fairly uncritical view of Napoleon, reflecting how they saw him.(Read Full Review)
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Fighting the Bombers - The Luftwaffe's Struggle against the Allied Bomber Offensive, ed. David C. Isby. A fascinating look at the Luftwaffe’s fight against the Allied bombers, based around a series of interviews carried out with key figures in the Luftwaffe just after the end of the war. As a result it gives us an idea of what they thought about the battle in its immediate aftermath, and before their stories began to change in the post-war years. A very valuable primary source for anyone interesting in the Second World War bombing campaigns(Read Full Review)
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13 May 2018

Breaking Point of the French Army - The Nivelle Offensive of 1917, David Murphy. Looks at the state of the French army at the start of 1917, the hopes raised by Nivelle when he took command, the failure of his offensive and the crisis of morale caused by that failure. Includes interesting material on how Nivelle and his team were able to ignore the evidence that there were problems with their plan, and on how Petain managed to undo the damage to the French army in remarkably little time (Read Full Review)
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Peter the Great Humbled - The Russo-Ottoman War of 1711, Nicholas Dorrell. Looks at the short and almost disastrous Russian invasion of the Ottoman Empire, which ended with Peter the Great and his army trapped on the Pruth and forced to surrender on Ottoman terms. Covers the various armies involved on both sides, the commanders, the aims of the two main commanders and the course of the short, and for Peter, almost disastrous war. Despite some victories away from the main front, the war could have ended with Peter’s power greatly diminished and he was lucky to be offered rather generous terms(Read Full Review)
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Secret Naval Investigator - the Battle against Hitler's Secret Underwater Weapons, Commander F. Ashe Lincoln QC, RNVR. The autobiography of one of the leading figures in the battle against Germany’s increasingly advanced mines and torpedoes, a key part of the battle of the Atlantic, allowing the British to overcome a series of German ‘secret weapons’ that might otherwise have cut the vital sea lanes to Britain. This comes across as one of the most dangerous research jobs of the Second World War, and many of the author’s colleagues were killed while trying to disarm and dismantle these weapons(Read Full Review)
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6 May 2018

Friends and Enemies: The Natal Campaign in the South African War 1899-1902, Hugh Rethman. Looks at the Boer invasion of Natal, the siege of Ladysmith and the efforts to raise the siege, with an emphasis on the role of troops raised in Natal and on the fate of the civilian population of the area. Perhaps a bit too hostile to the Boers and critical of British officers, but excellent on its core subject - the contribution of the people of Natal to their own defence in the face of hostile invasion (Read Full Review)
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Monte Cassino: A German View, Rudolf Böhmler. Very good on the nitty gritty of the fighting carried out by Bohmler’s paratroops, who were responsible for much of the determined defence of Cassino monastery and town, so we get a good feel for the day-to-day experience of the paratroops. Not so strong on the overall picture or the political background, which is sometimes dominated by a desire to rehabilitate the reputation of the German army in a Cold War context(Read Full Review)
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Anders Lassen VC, MC of the SAS, Mike Langley. A biography of one of the most remarkable men to serve with the SAS and SBS during the Second World War, an exiled Dane who went on to win the MC and two bars and the Victoria Cross, looking at his military career and his character, and producing a picture of a more complex than expected man, who inflicted a great deal of damage on the Germans, especially in the Aegean (Read Full Review)
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29 April 2018

English Electric Lightning, Martin Derry and Neil Robinson. Very much aimed at the modeller, with an emphasis on paint schemes and liveries. Does include a useful mark-by-mark and unit-by-unit history of the Lightning, which will be of interest to the general aviation enthusiast, as well as a large selection of colour plans of the aircraft, reviews of the various kits available, and an impressive selection of colour photos of the aircraft, which will be of great value to the modeller (Read Full Review)
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The Third Reich Bravery and Merit Decoration for Eastern Peoples, Rolf Michaelis. A short book that looks at an award originally designed for eastern volunteers not qualified to receive standard German awards, with a brief history of the award (including tracing its development into an award available to German troops serving with Eastern units) and a plates selection that includes pictures of the award, soldiers wearing the reward and the paperwork associated with it (Read Full Review)
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Forgotten Sacrifice - The Arctic Convoys of World War II, Michael G. Walling. A valuable study of the full story of the Arctic Convoys, looking beyond the most famous of the convoy battles to cover the early almost unopposed sailings, the return trips, the clashes between German and Soviet forces along the Arctic coast and the Soviet contribution to the convoys themselves. Includes many harrowing tales of Arctic survival that reminds us of the human cost of these convoys (Read Full Review)
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22 April 2018

Trial by Gas - the British Army at the Second Battle of Ypres, George H. Cassar. Looks at the first use of poisoned gas on the Western Front, and the only major German offensive in the west in 1915, one of the great ‘missed chances’ of the First World War. Very detailed account of the British side of the battle, supported by excellent maps showing the overall progress of the battle. Could do with more on the German point of view, but otherwise excellent(Read Full Review)
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Marine Corps Tank Battles in the Middle East, Oscar E. Gilbert. Covers a range of types of armoured warfare, from the conventional tank battles of the two Gulf Wars to counter insurgency work in Afghanistan. Paints a picture of a flexible, adaptable and competent armoured force that plays a key part in just about every Marine Corps deployment, despite never being at the top of the pile for funding. Also suggests that the tank can be surprising effective in counter-insurgency work, providing a powerful backup to the infantry (Read Full Review)
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Stemming the Tide: Officers and Leadership in the British Expeditionary Force 1914, ed. Spencer Jones. A generally positive study of the senior and middle ranking officers of the BEF, covering the main characters at GHQ, the three corps commanders, a selection of division and brigade commanders and finishing with a more general study of battalion and company commanders. Focuses on their pre-war careers, how their experiences prepared them for the trials of 1914 and how they actually coped (Read Full Review)
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15 April 2018

Wings over Ogaden: The Ethiopian-Somali War 1978-79, Tom Cooper. Covers one of the more obscure battles of the late 20th Century, where even some of the major units commanders are still unknown. This was an unusual conflict, where both combatants changed their allegiance in the Cold War before or during the conflict, but at the start it was a clash between Western and Soviet aircraft and training methods, with the previously Western backed Ethiopians coming out on top on both counts (Read Full Review)
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The Battle of Cuito Cuanavale: Cold War Angolan Finale, 1987-1988, Leopold Scholtz. Looks at the final major clash between the South Africans and their Angolan and Cuban opponents in southern Angola during the long Border War. Largely written from the South African point of view (mainly due to the available sources), but with an attempt to be fair to the Angolans and Cubans. Mainly focuses on the detailed events of the battle, and supported by detailed maps and an impressive collection of photographs (Read Full Review)
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Aisne 1918, David Blanchard. Focuses on the first day of the battle, when a series of weakened British divisions in poor defensive positions were overwhelmed and the Allied line was temporarily broken. Based around a series of regimental histories of the fighting on that first day, followed by a shorter overview of the rest of the battle. Helps explain why the Germans were able to achieve such a dramatic breakthrough on the first day of the battle (Read Full Review)
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8 April 2018

The Battle of Britain, Kate Moore. Differs from most books on the topic by dedicating half of its length to the background to the battle - the nature of the two air forces, the aircraft they used, their organisation at the start of the battle, and the German victories of 1939-40 and the role of air power in them. Then moves on to a good but fairly standard account of the battle, supported by eyewitness accounts and pictures from the Imperial War Museum archives (Read Full Review)
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Green Leader, Ian Pringle. Looks at the destruction of two civilian airliners by ZIPRA and the Rhodesian military reaction, in particular to the first of those attacks. Perhaps overplays the significance of these events in helping Robert Mugabe into power, given that the ZIPRA leader Nkomo still gained 80% of the vote in the heartland of his support, but does provide an interesting narrative of the Rhodesian attacks (Read Full Review)
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Britain Goes to War - How the First World War Began to Reshape the Nation, ed. Peter Liddle. Covers a very wide range of topics, starting with a focus on the early months of the war, moving on to a series of topics that cover the entire period and ending with a look at some of the sources available for the study of the war. Made up of articles produced for a conference at Weetwood Halls, Leeds, so produced by a wide range of experts, thus explaining the wide range of articles and the unusual topics (Read Full Review)
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25 March 2018

RAF and the SOE - Special Duty Operations in Europe During WW2, An Official History. The official history of the RAF’s role in SOE operations, with valuables sections on problems such as navigation, what sort of supply containers to use, how reception committees worked or the dangerous landing operations. Not always terribly readable, due to its origin as an official report, but always valuable, providing a detailed examination of the aerial operations that made almost all of SOE’s operations possible.(Read Full Review)
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Images of War: United States Naval Aviation 1911-2014, Michael Green. Covers the full range of US naval aircraft, from the early biplanes that entered service only five years after the first powered flight to the modern jet aircraft and unmanned drones. Split into four time periods, with each section beginning with a brief introduction to each aircraft type, followed by the photos themselves, each supported by a useful caption. Also includes a short section of colour plates, mainly of more modern aircraft or surviving older types (Read Full Review)
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Enduring Freedom Enduring Voices: US Operations in Afghanistan, Michael G. Walling. Looks at US military operations in Afghanistan between the 2001 and 2013, with very little on events in parts of the country not under US control. Includes a wide range of useful eyewitness accounts from US service personnel, largely untainted by hindsight simply because we don’t actually know the outcome of the war yet (the book even ends a year before the official end of Operation Enduring Freedom)(Read Full Review)
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18 March 2018

The Lions of Carentan: Fallschirmjäger Regiment 6, 1943-1945, Volker Griesser. A unit history that perhaps tells you more about the paratroops saw themselves than the reality of their war, although the eyewitness accounts are often more honest, reflecting the often desperate fighting that saw the unit pushed back from Normandy into the heart of Germany, suffering massive casualties on the way. Covers the German seizure of Rome, D-Day and the fighting in Normandy, the attacks on the land corridor leading to Arnhem and the final defensive battles in Germany (Read Full Review)
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GI Stories 1942-45, Henry-Paul Enjames. Looks at the wartime careers of more than fifty US service personnel fighting in North Africa and Europe, tracing them from their pre-war lives in the US, through training and into combat. Tends to provide more individual details before their units entered active combat, then focus on the unit history until the subject of the chapter was wounded, captured, killed or the fighting ended, when we then get more personal details. Each entry is supported by a wide selection of photos of memorabilia, mainly closely related to the individual (Read Full Review)
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Finnish Soldier vs Soviet Soldier - Winter War 1939-40, David Campbell. Looks at three key battles during the Winter War, comparing the performance of the full range of ground troops on both sides, including armour and artillery. Shows how the Soviet performance slowly improved, just as the Finns were being worn down by the constant fighting, but also how the determined Finnish resistance probably convinced Stalin to abandon his early plans to occupy the entire country, and also how the Soviet debacles in 1939 helped convince the Germans that the Red Army would be an easy opponent to defeat (Read Full Review)
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11 March 2018

The Petersburg Campaign vol II: The Western Front Battles September 1864-April 1865, Bryce A. Suderow and Edwin C. Bearss. Looks at the fighting to the south and west of Petersburg during the long siege of 1864-65, which ended with the Confederates forced to abandon Petersburg and Richmond, the retreat to Appomattox and the final surrender of Lee's army. Starts with a rather dry account of the early battles on this front, which ended in stalemate, before moving on to the key battles of the spring of 1865, which saw the Confederate lines finally broken (Read Full Review)
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Lobositz to Leuthen - Horace St. Paul and the Campaigns of the Austrian Army in the Seven Years War 1756-57, Neil Cogswell. Meant as a series study of the military art, so includes orders of battle, extracts from other author's work, all pulled together in St. Paul's diaries, and describing some of the earliest campaigns of the Seven Years War. A valuabkle source for this period, giving us an educated outsider's view of some of the early battles and sieges of the Seven Years War, seen from a position close to the senior Austrian and Imperial armies (Read Full Review)
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The SADF in the Border War 1966-1989, Leopold Scholtz. Looks at the long war on the Angolan-Namibian border, fought between South Africa and UNITA on one side and the Angolans, Cubans and SWAPO on the other. The author states in the introduction that his work can't be entirely balanced because of the available sources, but still does a good job of producing an unbiased account of the South African performance during the war, looking at their successes and failures on the battlefield, and in the eventual peace negotiations that ended the war (Read Full Review)
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4 March 2018

The Suomi Submachine Gun, Leroy Thompson. Looks at the main Finnish submachine gun during the Winter War and to a lesser extent the Continuation Wars, focusing not just on what made it distinctive technically, but also on how it was used by the Finns to increase the firepower of their hit-and-run raiders, and the wider significance of that combat experience, which turned the SMG from a specialist weapon into a mainstay of the infantry. (Read Full Review)
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Caen Controversy - The Battle for Sword Beach 1944, Andrew Stewart. Looks at the plans for the attack on Sword Beach, the question of if Caen was an Allied target for D-Day, and if so why it wasn't captured on the day. Provides a good account of the beach landings, as well as the wider battle, before looking at the controversy surrounding the failure to take Caen on or close to D-Day, one of Montgomery's stated aims before the invasion (Read Full Review)
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World War II US Army Combat Equipments, Gordon L. Rottman. At first glance this is a rather unpromising topic, but it actually gives you an interesting insight into the daily life of the US soldier of the Second World War, looking at the kit they carried with themselves every day, cooked with and camped in, as well as the various ammo holders and pouches. The result is a surprisingly interesting book (Read Full Review)
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25 February 2018

Hard Fighting - A History of the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry 1900-1946, Jonathan Hunt. Part two of this unit history looks at the Sherwood Rangers' time as a active combat unit, as cavalry in the Boer War and First World War and as an armoured unit during the Second World War. Starts a little dry, but becomes increasingly interesting as it goes on, and especially during the Second World War, where the unit fought at El Alamein, operated DD tanks on D-Day and fought alongside US troops during Operation Market Garden (Read Full Review)
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Generalissimo Stalin: The Myth of Stalin as a Great Military Strategist, Boris Gorbachevsky. Starts as a look at Stalin's role as a military leader and how it was portrayed within the Soviet Union and turns into a wider condemnation of many aspects of the Soviet war effort and post-war attitude to veterans, written by a wartime veteran of the Red Army. More of a passionately argued polemic than a clearly argued history, the author's passion and anger is clear, backed up by his personal experiences of many of the events he was discussing (Read Full Review)
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The Mosin-Nagant Rifle, Bill Harriman. Looks at the main Russian and Soviet rifle of the First and Second World Wars, a robust weapon that first appeared in the 1890s, but went on to serve in gradually improved versions for over half a century. Written by a weapons collector and high quality history, so we get both halves of the story - the history of the weapon and what it was like to actually operate it (Read Full Review)
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18 February 2018

Milvian Bridge AD 312 - Constantine's battle for Empire and Faith, Ross Cowan. Looks at the background to the civil war, the events of the entire campaign and the battle itself, which turns out to be more difficult to understand than one might have expected, with no clear location and different accounts of the course of the battle itself. The author has his own views on the location and course of the battle, and supports it with a good discussion of the sources (Read Full Review)
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Churchill's Greatest Fear: The Battle of the Atlantic 3 September 1939 to 7 May 1945, Richard Doherty. Covers the full length of the battle, bringing in topics that are rarely covered, such as the important of realistic training or the role of operational research in the improvement of Allied countermeasures, helping to prove that most attacks came from within the convoy or that larger convoys were safer. Also good on technological developments on both sides, and the strengths and flaws of the many weapons used during the long battle (Read Full Review)
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Bazooka vs Panzer - Battle of the Bulge 1944, Steven J. Zaloga. Looks at the way in which the bazooka actually worked, its development into a working weapon, and how it was used in combat, with one case study from the Ardennes. Also covers the various German defensive measures often said to have been  introduced in response to the bazooka, but that mainly turn out to have been responses to threats on the Eastern Front, and that often had little impact against the bazooka(Read Full Review)
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11 February 2018

Aachen, the U.S. Army's Battle for Charlemagne's City in World War II, Robert W. Baumer. A very detailed look at the US capture of Aachen, the first major German city to fall into Allied hands during the Second World War, and the German attempts to lift the siege and defend the city. Perhaps a little too detailed in places, but otherwise a good account of this iconic battle on the borders of the Third Reich (Read Full Review)
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Doncaster in the Great War, Symeon Mark Waller. A look at the impact of the Great War on Doncaster, largely focusing on the human cost of the war, and the constant drip feed of bad news from the front. A good use of contemporary sources and wartime photographs gives a good feel for the period, and the result is a book that will be of value for those with an interest in the history of Doncaster (Read Full Review)
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World War II Infantry Fire Support Tactics, Gordon L. Rottman. Perhaps a bit over-ambitious, looking at Soviet, German, US and British infantry fire support tactics, officially during the entire war, but with a focus on the later years. Useful in that it brings together material on different weapons that are normally seen in isolation, so we see how mortars, machine guns, infantry guns, anti-tank guns and hand-held AT weapons were meant to work together (Read Full Review)
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4 February 2018

Zama 202 BC - Scipio crushes Hannibal in North Africa, Mir Bahmanyar. A look at the final major battle of the Second Punic War, a surprisingly difficult battle to understand, with significant differences between the main accounts of the battle, the armies involved and even its aftermath. Does a good job of working through the different sources and their accounts of the battle, producing a coherent view without hiding the difficulties.  Also covers the campaign that led up to the battle, and acknowledges the contribution by the African allies on both sides(Read Full Review)
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The Experimental Units of Hitler's Condor Legion, Rafael A. Permuy Lopez & Lucas Molina Franco. A very detailed, almost day-by-day and aircraft-by-aircraft, study of the experimental bomber and fighter units that served in Spain during the Civil War and tested some of the aircraft that did so much damage in 1939-41. Neither unit lasted for terribly long or contained many aircraft, and both turned into regular units, allowing the authors to work in such detail (Read Full Review)
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British Light Infantry & Rifle Tactics of the Napoleonic Wars, Philip Haythornthwaite. Nice to see the details of the light infantry tactics that are so often praised in accounts of the British Army's campaigns of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic War - looking at the evolution of light infantry  units, how they were trained, how they were meant to maneuver, how they were used in combat and finishing with some examples from 1813-1815(Read Full Review)
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28 January 2018

US Navy Ships vs Kamikazes 1944-45, Mark Stille. Looks at the reasons for the kamikaze attacks, the techniques used by them, the aircraft involved, the ships they targeted, the American response, and the effectiveness of the attacks. Includes a useful statistical analysis of the campaign, looking at if it was an effective use of resources. A good short account of the kamikaze campaign, looking at it from both sides (Read Full Review)
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Man of War - The Fighting Life of Admiral James Saumarez, Anthony Sullivan. An interesting biography of a less familiar senior British naval officer of the Napoleonic Wars, who served off the French coast and as a floating diplomatic in the Baltic, where he helped prevent an escalation of the war, as well as fighting at many of the major naval battles of the period and commanding at the two battles of Algerciras (Read Full Review)
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Stalin's Secret Police, Rupert Butler. Covers the full history of Soviet political policing, from the Revolution and Civil War, through Stalin's rule and the Second World War and onto the post-war and Cold War worlds. More of a history of Soviet repression than of the activities of the Secret Police, covering what they did rather than how they were organised or how they worked. A useful but rather grim look at one of history's darker corners (Read Full Review)
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21 January 2018

US Infantryman vs German Infantryman, European Theatre of Operations 1944, Steven J. Zaloga. Looks at three clashes between American and German infantry, from Normandy to the Ardennes, looking at how their units were equipped, organised and supported, and how that impacted on the fighting. I found the background information most interesting, looking at how the different sides were equipped and organised, and struggled to get into the perfectly well written battle accounts (Read Full Review)
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Nile River Gunboats 1882-1918, Angus Konstam. Looks at the increasingly powerful gunboats that supported Anglo-Egyptians operations on the Nile, from Gordon's disastrous invention in the Sudan and the attempts to save him to the eventual reconquest under Kitchener. Looks at the different classes of gunboat, the individual boats involved, how they were armed, armoured, powered and crewed and what life was like onboard, and finishes with a look at their two main campaigns (Read Full Review)
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Tippecanoe 1811 - The Prophet's battle, John F Winkler. Follows the campaign from the pressures on Indian land that helped trigger the fighting, through the rise of the Prophet, and the split that he caused in Indian society, and on to the actual fighting itself, looking at Harrison's careful efforts to reach Prophetstown with his army intact and the battle itself, a night attack on the American camp that failed to achieve its objectives, and ended the rule of the Prophet, but opened the way to the brief dominance of Tecumseh (Read Full Review)
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14 January 2018

Generals of the Bulge - Leadership in the U.S. Army's Greatest Battle, Jerry D. Morelock. A valuable study of the performance of a series of US generals, from Eisenhower, through the various levels of command down to Divisional, during the battle of the Bulge, the biggest single American land battle of the Second World War. Benefits greatly from the author's willingness to choose officers whose performance was less than impressive as well as those who shone during the battle. Includes some very useful debates on the bigger controversies of the battle (Read Full Review)
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Conquerors of the Roman Empire - The Vandals, Simon MacDowall. Tells the impressive story of the Vandals, who in not much more than a single generation crossed the Rhine into Gaul, established a kingdom in Spain and then did the same in North Africa, sacked Rome and briefly set themselves up as one of the major naval powers of the period. Also covers the earlier, rather obscure, history of the Vandals, and their eventual defeat and destruction by the Eastern Romans (Read Full Review)
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The Japanese Navy in World War II, ed. David C. Evans. A very valuable examination of the successes and failures of the Imperial Japanese Navy during the Second World War, written by some of the officers who were closest to the action. Provides a very different view of some very familiar battles, and some interesting insights into the flaws in the Japanese war effort, including a lack of a realistic war plan and the tendency to adopt over-complex plans (Read Full Review)
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7 January 2018

River Plate 1939 - The sinking of the Graf Spee, Angus Konstam. Looks at one of the earliest major British naval successes of the Second World War, the defeat and forced destruction of the pocket battleship Graf Spee by a much weaker force of British cruisers. Covers everything from the design of the warships, her commerce raiding career, and the allied hunt to the final destruction of Graf Spee by her own crew(Read Full Review)
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Death before Glory! The British Soldier in the West Indies in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars 1793-1815, Martin R. Howard. Looks at the costly campaigns in the West Indies, where disease was often more dangerous for either side than their opponents. Well organised, split into three - the armies, the campaigns and the soldier's experiences, and gives a good picture of a series of difficult campaigns, where isolated, disease afflicted, British forces slowly came to dominate the area (Read Full Review)
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Armoured Horsemen: With the Bays and Eight Army in North Africa and Italy, Peter Willett. Looks at the experiences of a British armoured unit during the key battles in North Africa and the last year of the Italian campaign, with a focus on the desert war. Gives us an interesting view into a generally well led but Public School dominated regiment, as well as the author's own experiences of the nature of armoured warfare. Also covers his post-war career in racing, to complete the picture (Read Full Review)
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