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

11 October 2020

Rome’s Sicilian Slave Wars, Natale Barca. Looks at the first and second Servile Wars, massive slave uprisings that threatened Roman control of Sicily, and with it the grain supply to the city of Rome. Places them in the context of the wider Mediterranean world, the nature of the ancient slave trade, and the increasingly unstable nature of Roman politics. I don’t entirely agree with some of the author’s conclusions, but I did find this a useful book on two major conflicts that are often only mentioned in passing(Read Full Review)
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Armies of Celtic Europe – 700BC – AD106 – History, Organization and Equipment, Gabriele Esposito. A look at the military history of the ancient Celts, from their origins in central Europe through their expansion west into modern France, Spain and Britain and east into the Balkans and Anatolia, and their long conflict with the expanding Roman empire. Especially strong on the armours and weaponry of the Celts, and illustrated with a large number of pictures of modern re-enactors showing a wide range of types of Celtic arms and armour (Read Full Review)
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The Mighty Warrior Kings – From the Ashes of the Roman Empire to the New Ruling Order, Philip J. Potter. A series of biographies of significant Medieval kings, largely focused on their military careers, with limited analysis of other aspects of their reign. Few if any surprises in the kings chosen, but the all-inclusive approach to their military careers does mean that we learn about many conflicts that are otherwise ignored or skipped over, such as the 1069-70 Viking invasion of England or Richard I’s extensive military experience before becoming king(Read Full Review)
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4 October 2020

US Air Cavalry Trooper versus North Vietnamese Soldier – Vietnam 1965-68, Chris McNab. Largely focuses on the combat record of the US 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) in 1966-7, looking at how it performed in three battles against the North Vietnamese. Good on the US side, a bit thin in the Vietnamese side, so better seen as a examination of the airmobile concept than a direct comparison of the two units covered (Read Full Review)
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German Soldier versus Polish Soldier, Poland 1939, David R. Higgins. Looks at three battles between German and Polish infantry from the early days of the German invasion, when the Poles were still able to put up a decent fight, including a brief account of the development of both armies, how they were trained and equipped before moving onto good accounts of the battles, with excellent material from both sides (Read Full Review)
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God’s Viking – Harald Hardrada, the Life and Times of the Last Great Viking, Nic Fields. A look at the world in which Harald lived rather than an actual biography of the man, so has large sections on the history of the Vikings in Russia, the Varangian Guards, Viking warfare and so forth, often going some time without actually mentioning Harald. Includes plenty of interesting material on Harald’s world, but needed to focus more on its subject, or at least bring all of the pieces on Harald together before heading off into the background(Read Full Review)
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27 September 2020

The French 75, Steven J. Zaloga. A look at the develop and combat record of the French 75mm M1897, the first modern field gun, explaining the technical advances that made it such an impressive weapons, as well as the flaws that were revealed after the outbreak of war in 1914, and its impressive post-war career (Read Full Review)
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Armies of the Italian-Turkish Wars – Conquest of Libya, 1911-1912, Gabriele Esposito. Focuses more on the war itself than the armies that fought it, with the main emphasis on the fighting in Libya, but also covers the conquest of the Dodecanese and the limited naval campaigns. Does include orders of battle and descriptions of the armies themselves, but these take up less space than is often the case in this series. The result is a useful introduction to this relatively little known but significant war (Read Full Review)
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Dettingen 1743 – Miracle on the Main, Michael McNally. Looks at the last battle at which a British monarch commanded troops (George II), and a battle in which the French skilfully drew the opposing Pragmatic Army into a trap, only for the actions of one of the subordinate French commanders to give the allies a chance to escape from the trap. A good account of a battle in which both sides made major mistakes, and both sides were able to claim a victory of sorts (Read Full Review)
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20 September 2020

King Philip’s War 1675-76, America’s Deadliest Colonial Conflict, Gabriele Esposito. Looks at the last real chance the Native Americans of New England had to reclaim their homeland from the Puritan colonists who had arrived fifty-five years earlier, and rapidly spread across the area, while the Native Americans had been devastated by disease and pushed out of many of their original areas as the colonies expanded. The result was a costly war, in which the Native Americans were able to inflict a series of costly defeats on the Colonists, but not able to realistically threaten their larger settlements, giving them little or no chance of defeating the more numerous colonists (Read Full Review)
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Peter the Great’s Revenge – The Russian Siege of Narva in 1704, Boris Megorsky. Looks at one of Peter the Great’s successes during the Great Northern War, the capture of the Swedish controlled fortified city of Narva, a key position on the western approaches to Peter’s new city at St Petersburg. An interesting mix of a day-by-day narrative of the attack and inserts explaining how the major figures were and discussing aspects of eighteenth century siege warfare. An effective approach that gives us a rounded picture of the nature of siege warfare during the Great Northern War, as well as looking at the only time the Russians actually needed to storm a major besieged city(Read Full Review)
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Soviet Armoured Cars 1936-45, Jamie Prenatt. A useful look at the main types of armoured cars produced in the Soviet Union before and during the Second World War, looking at nine main types and their use in combat in Spain, the Far East, Poland, Finland and during the Second World War, including an example of how the lessons of combat could be misleading, after the armoured cars were able to compete on an equal footing with the very light tanks found in the earlier battles (Read Full Review)
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13 September 2020

The Frontiers of Imperial Rome, David J. Breeze. Looks at the entire length of the Roman frontier, from the familiar Hadrian’s Wall to the long desert frontiers in Africa and the Middle East, including the man made lines of forts and other features and the natural borders of mountains, rivers and coastlines. An excellent overview of a massive subject, looking at the individual elements of the frontiers, how they linked up along the frontiers and what their actual purpose may have been.(Read Full Review)
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Cromwell’s Failed State and the Monarchy, Timothy Venning. Looks at the political and military history of the period between the end of the First Civil War and the establishment of Cromwell’s Protectorate, largely to ask if the Protectorate or something similar was an almost inevitable result, or if there had ever been a possibility of an agreement with Charles I or another Stuart, or that Parliament might have stayed in power. A bit ramshackle and lacking any introduction to explain its purpose, but otherwise a useful look at key elements of this period that are often skipped over quite quickly.(Read Full Review)
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Britain’s War Against the Slave Trade, Anthony Sullivan. Focuses on Britain’s long naval campaign against the African slave trade, which combined with a prolonged diplomatic effort eventually ended that trade. Largely taken up with accounts of every clash between the Royal Navy and slaving ships along the coast, the fate of those slavers and the people found onboard, but also looks at the attempts to win over the major slaving nations, and the difficulties caused by jointly run courts set up to decide the eventual fate of the captured ships(Read Full Review)
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6 September 2020

The German Army on Campaign 1914-1918, Bob Carruthers. At the same time familiar but different, looks at the First World War from the German side of the lines, so we get the same sort of pictures as in books on the British Army, but with different uniforms and equipment (and more mustaches). An interesting collection of photographs, showing how similar life was on the other side of no man’s land(Read Full Review)
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Emperors of Rome – The Monsters – From Tiberius to Theodora, AD 14-548, Paul Chrystal. A look at some of the most notorious of the Roman emperors and their famous misdeeds. Covers quite a range, starting with the second emperor, Tiberius, and finishing with the early Byzantine Justinian and his wife Theodora. A bit ‘tabloid’ in nature, recounting the reported sexual misdeeds of a series of Emperors and the Imperial women. Starts with a brief introduction looking at similar atrocities committed in earlier periods, to help put these people in the context of their times, but could have done with more analysis of our sources and their motives(Read Full Review)
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Darwin 1942 – The Japanese Attack on Australia, Bob Alford. Focuses on the Japanese air raids on Darwin on 19 February 1942, the first and by far the largest of the ninety seven Japanese air attack on the Australian mainland during the Second World War. A very detailed account of the air battle, with eyewitness accounts from both sides, and an excellent analysis of experiences of the airmen on both sides and their losses. (Read Full Review)
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30 August 2020

The Archaeology of the Holocaust, Richard A. Freund. Looks at the use of non-invasive archaeological methods, including Geoscience (perhaps better known in the UK as geophysics) at two centres of Jewish life, in Rhodes and Vilna, both destroyed during the Holocaust.  Focuses on the technical aspects of what was done, why it was done, the background story of the two areas and the way the local population was involved, rather than on the actual details of the digs(Read Full Review)
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The Light Division in the Peninsular war 1808-1811, Tim Saunders and Rob Yuill. Looks at the history of the units that would become the Light Division, and the early activities of the division itself, from Wellington’s first campaign in 1808, through Sir John Moore’s time in charge and on to Bucaco Ridge the Lines of Torres Vedra and the French retreat back into Spain. Uses a wider range of sources than most (although does include the famous Rifleman Harris), so we get a better picture of the overall activities of the division(Read Full Review)
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Combat over the Mediterranean, Chris Goss. Focuses largely on the RAF’s anti-shipping missions, using the gun camera photographs taken during actual attacks to give a vivid picture of this important part of the war in the Mediterranean. Focuses largely on No.252 Squadron, as the pictures came from the collection of Dennis Butler, who commandeered the squadron twice during the war. Often includes a whole series of pictures from the same attack, giving us an unparalleled view of events as they happened(Read Full Review)
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23 August 2020

Rome’s Third Samnite War – 298-290BC – the Last Stand of the Line Legion, Mike Roberts. Focuses on the Third Samnite War, the last time the Samnites were Rome’s main opponents in a conflict, placing the conflict in the wider context of its times and looking at Rome’s other foes at the time, as well as following the rivalry through to its end in the dying days of the Republic. Generally very good, although outside the Third War the timeline could be clearer. During the war itself does a good job of creating a coherent account of this often poorly recorded conflict.(Read Full Review)
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Leading the Roman Army – Soldiers and Emperors 31 BC-AD 235, Jonathan Eaton. Takes a different approach to the Roman army, looking at the relationship between the Emperor and his soldiers, both the regular army and the Praetorian Guard, how the army was led and disciplined and what influence it actually had over politics (ie the Emperor and succession), in a period when the Emperor was the sole source of military authority. (Read Full Review)
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Vietnam War US & Allied Combat Equipments, Gordon L. Rottman. A detailed examination of the non-combat equipment carried by US and allied troops during the Vietnam War, looking both at the official kit and what was actually carried. Excludes the uniform itself and any actual weapons, but covers just about everything else, from the webbing used to carry most of the kit to the various types of first aid kits. The author actually served in Vietnam in 1969-70, so knows what he is talking about! (Read Full Review)
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16 August 2020

Wellington and the British Army’s Indian Campaigns 1798-1805, Martin R. Howard. Looks at the wider context to Wellington’s time in India, covering most of the military campaigns that took place while he was present, not just those in which he was involved. A little weak on the Indian side of the fighting, but otherwise good, and provides some useful context to Wellington’s famous victories of this period(Read Full Review)
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We Killed Yamamoto, Si Sheppard. Looks at one of the most famous air attacks of the entire Second World War, the P-38 strike that killed Admiral Yamamoto, one of the key targets for the US after his role in the attack on Pearl Harbor. Includes good material on code breaking and its role in the war to that date, the decision to carry out the raid, the planning and the raid, and finally the long running controversy about which pilot actually shot down Yamamoto (Read Full Review)
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Churchill’s Hellraisers – A Secret Mission to Storm a Forbidden Nazi Fortress, Damien Lewis. A very entertaining account of Operation Tombola, a joint SOE and SAS mission in northern Italy that joined with the Italian resistance to attack the HQ of the German LI Corps. A very readable and atmospheric book covering a fascinating raid, slightly marred by insisting on calling the Corps HQ the 14th Army HQ throughout the book. Otherwise good, with an adventure story stone that brings the story to life (Read Full Review)
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9 August 2020

To Defeat the Few, Douglas C. Dildy and Paul F. Crickmore. A look at the Battle of Britain as seen from the German point of view, looking at what the Luftwaffe was attempting to achieve at each stage of the battle, how their plans were formed and implemented and what each individual raid was trying to achieve. This is a very useful approach to the battle, showing us its familiar events consistently from a different angle, (Read Full Review)
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The Piat – Britain’s anti-tank weapon of World War II, Matthew Moss. A good examination of the PIAT, the British Army’s most effective man portable infantry anti-tank weapon of the Second World War, looking at how it was developed, how it actually operated, and how effective it was in combat, where it was used against armour, against strong points and as a light mortar. Tracings its use in Italy, Normandy and afterwards, Warsaw and the Far East, as well as its limited post-war career(Read Full Review)
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Hitler’s Eastern Legions 1942-45, Nigel Thomas. Looks at the units raised by the Germans in the far eastern part of the conquests – the Caucasus, Turkestan, Volga and Crimea, with lots of information on their uniforms, organisation, locations, insignia etc squeezed into the space, but apparently no room to discuss any war crimes committed by these units.(Read Full Review)
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2 August 2020

Roman Soldier versus Parthian Warrior – Carrhae to Nisibis, 53 BC-AD 217, Si Sheppard . Looks at one of the great rivalries of the ancient world, between the infantry led armies of Rome and the cavalry armies of the Parthians, a rivalry that saw Rome suffer some of its worst defeats, and ended the Empire’s advance east. Nicely structured, examining three key battles alternating with the overview of events between to paid a picture of the overall nature of the relationship (Read Full Review)
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Women at War in the Classical World, Paul Chrystal . A survey of the role, experiences and attitudes to women in warfare across the Classical world, from the archaic Greek world of Homer to late Roman antiquity, including both real and fictional women and mythological figures. Covers the full range of experience from women as commanders (Cleopatra being the most famous) to women as victims of war, especially in the aftermath of defeat, as well as interesting sections on the attitude of these societies to woman’s role in warfare (Read Full Review)
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Setting the Med Ablaze – Churchill’s Secret North African Base, Peter Dixon . A fascinating book looking at SOE’s secret HQ in North Africa, code named Massingham, from where the organisation ran operations across the Mediterranean – on Corsica, Sardinia and Sicily, mainland Italy and France. The focus of this book isn’t on the individual missions themselves, but rather on the organisation behind them and their overall objectives (Read Full Review)
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26 July 2020

World War II German Super-Heavy Siege Guns, Marc Romanych & Martin Rupp. Looks at the heaviest siege artillery used by the Germans during the Second World War, from the super-heavy but essentially useless 80cm railway guns ‘Dora’ and ‘Gustav’ to the old First World War guns pressed into service. Nicely organised, with their combat record examined campaign by campaign, and with a useful emphasis on how the guns were actually used in practice(Read Full Review)
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Velikiye Luki 1942-43 – The Doomed Fortress, Robert Forczyk. Looks at a significant but relatively unknown battle on the Eastern Front, the first time that a reasonably prepared German force had been wiped out in a siege, and a determined relief effort had failed. Overshadowed by the similar but much larger battle of Stalingrad, this was still a major battle, and demonstrates many of the trends that were leading the Germans to defeat (Read Full Review)
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The Normans in Italy 1016-1194, Raffaele D’Amato and Andrea Salimbeti. An overview of the Norman presence in Italy, from the first appearance of the Normans as mercenaries to the formation of the powerful Kingdom of Sicily, and their dominance of the central Mediterranean, looking at their history in Italy, how they fought, how they were equipped and examining two sample battles. Nicely sub-divided to reflect the very different natures of the early conquest armies and the later Royal armies, and the multi-cultural nature of the army, with Norman, Greek and Muslim components (Read Full Review)
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19 July 2020

Nierstein and Oppenheim 1945 – Patton Bounces the Rhine, Russ Rodgers. Looks at the campaign that saw Patton’s Third Army carry out a formal assault across the Moselle, then ‘bounce’ across the Rhine, getting across that river just before the start of Montgomery’s large scale formal assault further north (although the speed of the final attack was motivated more by a desire to stop the Germans forming a new front). This is an excellent examination of Patton’s method of war, demonstrating why the Germans feared him so(Read Full Review)
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The Battle of Tsushima, Phil Carradice. Although the book includes good material on the reasons for the campaign and the battle itself, it focuses largely on the utterly compelling story of the 18,000 mile long voyage taken by the Russian Baltic Fleet as it moved towards near-total distruction at the battle of Tsushima. This voyage was a major achievement, carried out with hardly any friendly bases along the route, but is inevitably overshadowed by the crushing defeat of the Russian fleet at the end of the voyage (Read Full Review)
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The Desert Air Force in World War II - Air Power in the Western Desert 1940-1942, Ken Delve. A very detailed examination of the day-by-day experiences of the British and Empire aircrew who fought in North Africa, from the early victorious campaigns against the Italians, through the back-and-fore period against Rommel, ending with the defensive battles deep inside Egypt, the highpoint of Rommel’s advance towards the Nile. Does include brief overviews of the strategic situation, but focuses very much on the day-to-day personal memories of the aircrew(Read Full Review)
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12 July 2020

Japan’s Asian Allies 1941-45, Philip Jowett. Looks at the surprisingly numerous and varied forces raised by the Japanese across their short-lived Empire during the Second World War, ranging from the large, moderately well equipped forces of the Indian National Army to small occupation forces armed with spears or clubs. Includes a number of forces that were later remembered as part of post-war independence movements, and quite a few that changed sides as the war progressed (Read Full Review)
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The Jacobite Rising of 1715 and the Murray Family – Brothers in Arms, Rosalind Anderson. Looks at the history of the Murray family, one of the senior families of the Scottish aristocracy, in the period leading up to the ’15, where three sons of John Murray, first duke of Atholl, fought on the Jacobite side. Well supported by an impressive array of family letters, this book gives us a real feel for life within this family, and helps explain why so many of the duke’s sons repeatedly rebelled (Read Full Review)
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Operation Market-Garden 1944 (2) - The British Airborne Missions, Ken Ford. Part two of a three part series on Market-Garden, looking at the 1st Airborne Division’s battle at Arnhem itself, where they were able to hold on for much longer than the plan required (despite a number of serious flaws with the airborne plan and mistakes on the ground), before the survivors were forced to retreat back across the Rhine. A good short account of this famous battle, useful for anyone who wants to understand the battle without getting bogged down in too much detail(Read Full Review)
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5 July 2020

The Petlyakov Pe-2 – Stalin’s Succesful Red Air Force Light Bomber, Peter C. Smith. Looks at the development and career of the Petlyakov Pe-2, the most important Soviet twin engined bomber of the Second World War, and a successful dive bomber that played a major role in the fighting on the Eastern Front. Includes very detailed sections on the development of the aircraft, as well as its combat record, potted biographies of many of the key Pe-2 pilots, and its fairly brief post-war career. Sometimes exaggerates the significant and performance of the Pe-2, but is otherwise excellent. (Read Full Review)
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Battle in the Baltic – The Royal Navy and the Fight to Save Estonia and Latvia 1918-20, Steve R Dunn. Looks at the Royal Navy’s involvement in the Baltic after the Russian Revolution, where it played a significant role in securing the independence of Estonia and Latvia, against threats from the Bolsheviks, expansionist Germans, White Russians who wanted to restore the entire Tsarist Empire, all the time working without any significant political support at home, or any clear idea what the British government policy actually was. Despite the limited resources available the Navy still managed to carry out a motor boat attack on the main Soviet fleet, as well as providing invaluable support for the fighting on land, despite poor conditions that even triggered some minor mutinies.(Read Full Review)
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Armoured Cruiser Cressy, detailed in the original builders’ plan, Andrew Choong. Looks at the Cressy class armoured cruisers, using the beautifully drawn ‘as-fitted’plans produced after they were completed, to illustrate their actual layout in great detail. Part of a splendid series, this is a good example of a particular type of armoured cruiser, with many of its guns carried in two layers of casemates along the sides. By 1914 the armoured cruiser was almost obsolete, and the Cressy class is most famous for the loss of three to one U-boat on a single day, but when new they were were powerful modern ships. As with all of these books, this answers all sorts of questions about the layout of these ships, and is fascinating to look through.(Read Full Review)
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28 June 2020

Ancient Warfare Vol XI, Issue 4: Wars of the Twelve Tribe - Conflict in the Old TestamentAncient Warfare Vol XI, Issue 4: Wars of the Twelve Tribe - Conflict in the Old Testament Focuses on some of the wars mentioned in the Old Testament, including Gideon’s famous selection of an elite force, a coalition battle against the Neo-Assyrians, the defensive policy of Judah, the role of Israelites in the Assyrian army, and the Lachish reliefs. Away from the theme looks at a Roman military diploma in New York, all-source analysis and the mystery of the antisignani, described as fighting in front of the banners in a Roman army. [see more]
Ancient Warfare Vol X, Issue 1: Conflict Between Sparta and Athens - The Archidamian WarAncient Warfare Vol X, Issue 1: Conflict Between Sparta and Athens - The Archidamian War Focuses on the Archidamian War, the first ten years of the Great Peloponnesian War, which saw both Athens and Sparta win major victories and suffer costly defeats, before ending in a draw and a short-lived peace. Covers the type of troops involved, the roles of Pericles, Brasidas and Socrates, the siege of Plataea, the temple of Athena Nike and the clash between Sparta and Argos. Also looks at letters written by Roman troops in the eastern desert of Egypt, and the evidence for PTSD in the Roman world [see more]
The Komnene Dynasty - Byzantium’s Struggle for Survival 1057-1185, John Carr. Looks at the history of the most famous dynasty in Byzantine history (largely because of the work of Anna Comnena and its overlap with the early Crusades), with a focus on the well documented reign of Alexios I. This is a useful examination of a dynasty that started well, saving Byzantium from possible collapse in the aftermath of Manzikert, but that ended with an equally disasterous defeat and dynastic chaos in the last two reigns. Also includes a useful overview of earlier Byzantine history and a brief look at the period after the end of the dynasty, which saw their descendants rule the tiny Empire of Tribizond, while Byzantium was sacked by the Crusaders. (Read Full Review)
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21 June 2020

Hitler’s Panzers – the Complete History 1933-1945, Anthony Tucker-Jones. A well structured book that gives a useful overview of the development and deployment of Germany’s armoured vehicles during the Second World War, although that would have benifited from some further editing to avoid repetition and some inconsistency. Its main strong point come in the chapters on combat deployment, which acknowledge that the varied types of tanks fought as part of a larger war machine, and not in individual tank-vs-tank battles(Read Full Review)
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The Modern Cruiser – The evolution of the ships that fought the Second World War – Robert C. Stern. Looks at the most varied class of major warship, covering everything from tiny scout cruisers not much bigger than the largest destroyers up to the massive battle cruisers of the First World War. A well structured book, with each chapter looking at a particular period and the cruisers produced in response to the naval treaties in place at the time combined with reports of what each power’s rivals were building. An interesting look at a series of warships that wouldn’t have existed in the form they did without the London and Washington naval treaties(Read Full Review)
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Spoils of War – The Fate of Enemy Fleets after the Two World Wars, Aiden Dodson & Serena Cant. Looks at the fate of the defeated nation’s fleets after the two World Wars, when the surviving ships were split between the victorious nations, but not after a great deal of debate about who got what, and what should happen to the remaining ships (as well as to those that might have been salvageable). Includes a clear narrative of events, and a very useful reference section, tracing the fate of each surviving ship(Read Full Review)
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7 June 2020

An Archaeological Study of the Bayeux Tapestry – the Landscapes, Buildings and Places, Trevor Rowley. Takes a different approach to the Bayeux Tapestry, looking at what the locations it portrayed would actually have looked like in 1066, and comparing that to what we see on the tapestry. The result is a useful guide to the world of the Norman Conquest, using a mix of archaeological and landscape evidence, supported by a look at similar buildings that have survived from the time period, all supported by a campaign history to put the landscape history into context. Also benefits from focusing equally on each part of the tapestry rather than just on the invasion and battle scenes (Read Full Review)
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The Battle of Waterloo, A Near Observer. One of the earliest books published on the battle of Waterloo, made up of a series of letters written by eyewitnesses to the campaign, official reports from all sides (including some from countries not actually involved in the battle!) and finishing with casualties. First published in 1815, this is the seventh edition, which came out in the same year! You will find better collections of sources, but you won’t find one with quite the same immediacy as this. Also includes three foldouts, two with maps of the battle and one with an impressive panoramic sketch(Read Full Review)
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Modern Africa Wars (5) - The Nigerian-Biafran War 1967-70, Philip S. Jowett. Looks at the armies of the Biafran War, a civil war that broke out fairly soon after Nigeria gained independence, and saw the eastern part of the country fail to break away. A studious neutral account of the war, largely ignoring the accusations of war crimes levelled against both sides (Read Full Review)
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31 May 2020

Ancient Warfare Vol X, Issue 3: Rome  versus Poisonous Pontus  - The Mithridatic Wars, 88-63 BCAncient Warfare Vol X, Issue 3: Rome versus Poisonous Pontus - The Mithridatic Wars, 88-63 BC Longs at the three wars between Rome and Mithridates VI of Pontus, spread out over three crucial decades that saw the beginning of the end for the old Roman Republic. Includes articles on the Roman strategy in Asia Minor, the Greek view of the wars, the armies of Mithridates, his ally Tigranes II and the Roman commander Lucullus. Away from the theme there is a look at Egyptian sea power, and the nature of Greek siege warfare [see more]
Ancient Warfare Vol X, Issue 5: The Legacy of  Cyrus - The empires of Persia at WarAncient Warfare Vol X, Issue 5: The Legacy of Cyrus - The empires of Persia at War Focuses on the massive Persian Empire, starting with the conquest of Cyrus the Great and going on to the later Sassanid period. Includes an interesting look at how Cyrus’s conquest of Babylon became the basis of a much later Sassanid myth, the undocumented but archeologically interesting of Dura-Europos, and the portrayal of Artemisia of Halicarnassus in the Greek histories of the period [see more]
Medieval Warfare Vol VI, Issue 5: Bernard's Chosen - The Knights TemplarMedieval Warfare Vol VI, Issue 5: Bernard's Chosen - The Knights Templar Focuses on the Knights Templar, one of the two famous main military orders who fought in the Middle East during the Crusades, but who are perhaps best known now for their destruction by Philip IV of France, and their seemingly endless appearances in modern fiction. Here the focus is on the real historical order, how they were founded and organised, the reasons for their successes, and for their defeats, how they were seen at the time, and how they were remembered [see more]

24 May 2020

North Africa and the Middle East – Wargames Terrain & Buildings, Tony Harwood. Part two in a series on scratch building wargaming terrain, looking at North Africa and the Middle East, but with no particular time period in mind. Contains a mix of fairly simple and more complex models, mainly buildings but also including a gunboat and an entire oasis scene. The many and varied techniques look fairly achievable, and the instructions are nice and clear. Now I just need an excuse to build myself a model mud brick hut! (Read Full Review)
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Malaya and Singapore 1941-42, Mark Stille. Looks at one of the most disastrous campaigns in British military history, from the Japanese landings in northern Malaya and southern Thailand to the failed attempt to defend Singapore. Starts with an examination of the justifiably criticised British commanders and their more experienced and capable Japanese opponents, and of the opposing forces, before moving on to a good clear account of the skilful Japanese advance and the often woeful British defence, which led to the eventual surrender of Singapore and over 130,000 POWs. (Read Full Review)
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Torpedo Bombers 1900-1950, Jean-Denis Lepage. Looks at the fairly short history of the torpedo bomber, focusingly mainly on the aircraft themselves, with a series of historical introductions looking at the development of the torpedo and torpedo bomber, and each of the historical periods the book is split into. The book is built around hundreds of short articles on the individual aircraft, each supported by at least one of the author’s own illustrations. Very useful for the earlier period, and well into the Second World War, perhaps less so later on, reflecting the decline of the actual torpedo bomber!(Read Full Review)
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17 May 2020

Try Ancient Warfare magazine for 6 months. Click to subscribeAncient Warfare Vol XI, Issue 5: Riding into Battle - Ancient mounted warfare Focuses on mounted warfare in the ancient world, but with a wider remit than horse cavalry, so includes a look at dromedary troops, two articles on war elephants and one on a type of infantry that found alongside the cavalry, as well as the evidence for cavalry on the Pydna monument, and an examination of how the Legions cared for their horses. Also includes an alternative theory on how the Legions fought, and a look at a mystery troop type mentioned in a Roman military manual [see more]
Try Ancient Warfare magazine for 6 months. Click to subscribeMedieval Warfare Vol VIII, Issue 4: From Priest to King - Sverrir Sigurdsson and his saga Focuses on the career of Sverri Sigurdsson who rose from humble origins and early training to be a priest to win the crown of Norway after a successful rebellion against an apparently popular king. One of those historical figures who life reads more like a novel than real life, at least in part because many of the details come from a saga that he probably just about co-authored!  Also looks at the impact of the Black Death on warfare, in particular the Hundred Years, which was in its early stages at the time [see more]
Try Ancient Warfare magazine for 6 months. Click to subscribeMedieval Warfare Vol VIII, Issue 5: Early Arab Assaults on Byzantium Focuses on the early Arab attacks on the city of Constantinople, and the Byzantine armies that defeated them, including a convincing argument that the first Arab siege, of 674-8, probably didn’t happen in that form as well as a look at the siege of 717-8 that very much did. Includes a fascinating account of the contacts between the Spanish in the Philippines and Japanese exiles, including as enemies and as much admired mercenaries [see more]

10 May 2020

Run to the Sound of the Guns, Nicholas Moore & Mir Bahmanyar. A very atmospheric account of the experiences of a US Army Ranger who was involved in the War of Terror from the start in 2001 until being wounded in 2011. This period saw the Rangers evolve from a unit that carried out large scale operations, to one capable of carrying out the sort of small scale raids previous left to the Special Forces, and Moore is an engaging guide to that development. We get a convincing mix of successful and unsuccessful operations, and a real feel for what it was like to carry out operations in the Afghan mountains or the Iraqi urban landscape (Read Full Review)
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Special Forces in the War on Terror, Leigh Neville. Looks at the used of the many Special Forces units available to the Americans and their allies during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and during the wider war on Terror, looking both at how they were organised and directed at a top level, and at many of their individual missions on the ground, as well as how their equipment and techniques evolved over time. Ends before the rise of ISIS to prominence, although there are a few mentions along the way (Read Full Review)
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Prisoners on Cannock Chase, Richard Purehouse. A rare history of a First World War era Prisoner of War camp in Britain, looking at a camp built on Cannock Chase, combining a normal POW camp and a hospital camp. Covers the physical layout of the camp, life within the camp, entertainment, discipline and complaints about the commandant. An interesting account of an unusual topic, with good material from the German point of view, that of the camp’s garrison as well as from the locals in the Cannock area. (Read Full Review)
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26 April 2020

The Battleships of the Iowa Class, Philippe Caresse. An impressive history of the Iowa class battleships, translated flawlessly from French, and with the space within its 500 pages to contain a detailed technical history of the ships, accounts of each of their long service careers and to have more photographs than most pictorial guides could ever hope to have! The photographs benefit greatly from the survival of all four of these ships, to show us fascinating views of their interioirs, of the type that almost never survive for their contemporary warships (Read Full Review)
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Postcards of the Army Service Corps 1902-1918, Coming of Age, Michael Young. A collection of postcards sent home by members of the Army Service Corps, from the corps’ formation to the end of the First World War, so largely dominated by pictures of groups of men from the corps, showing how it developed from fairly small roots into a massive formation. Also helps illustrate how the army mechanised, going from the earliest motorvehicles introduced in tiny numbers to the vast fleets that supported operations on the Western Front(Read Full Review)
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Sovereign of the Seas 1637, John McKay. A rather technical, but also lavishily illustrated, examination of Charles I’s famous flagship, split into a very technical first half discussing the details of the ship and her construction and the methods used to fill the gaps in our knowledge, and an impressive section of 2D, 3D and isometric plans that cover just about every part of the ship in great detail(Read Full Review)
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19 April 2020

Black Swan Class Sloops, Les Brown. An excellent look at the Black Swan and Modified Black Swan class sloops using the Navy’s original high quality working drawings, to give an incredibly detailed view of the layout and internal arrangements of these high quality anti-submarine warfare vessels. Provides plans from four different ships, including the Amethyst, famously trapped in the Yangtze after coming under fire from Chinese Communist forces(Read Full Review)
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Victoria Crosses on the Western Front – 1917 to Third Ypres, 27 January 1917-27 July 1917, Paul Oldfield. Continues this series looking at all of the Victoria Crosses of the First World war, covering the period between the end of the battle of the Somme and the start of the third battle of Ypres, including the Arras offensive and the battle of Messines. Combines a narrative of the events leading to the award, a guide to the battlefield and detailed biographies of the inviduals involved (Read Full Review)
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Company of Heroes, Eric Poole. Looks at the tragic story of Leslie Sabo, jr, conscripted to serve in Vietnam just after his marriage, and who was killed during Nixon’s futile incursion into Cambodia. Covers Sabo’s family’s earlier experiences, starting in Hungary, his life before the military, he and his company’s experiences in Vietnam, including the disastrous battle in which he was killed, the survivor’s experiences after the war, and finishes with the story of how Sabo was awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor some four decades later(Read Full Review)
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12 April 2020

Junkers Ju 87 Stuka, Martin Derry and Neil Robinson. Combines a history of the Ju 87 Stuka with a detailed modeller’s guide, including colour schemes, reviews of the many models available, and pictures of many of those models assembled and painted by experts. Combines the technical and operation histories in a series of chapters looking at each major sub-type, before moving on to the impressive guide to the kits, which takes up the last third of the book!(Read Full Review)
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Courage without Glory – The British Army on the Western Front 1915, ed. Spencer Jones. A series of articles looking at the problems faced by the rapidly expanding BEF during 1915, the year in which the pre-war Regular army had to be replaced with new recruits, Territorial divisions and the first of Kitchener’s New Army. An interesting view of the problems caused by the massive expansion of the army, and the battles that the newly formed force had to fight to support their French Allies.(Read Full Review)
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The Thames 1813 - The War of 1812 on the Northwest Frontier, John F. Winkler. A rather biased account of the campaign that led to the battle of the Thames of 1813, seen from a rather old fashioned American perspective, especially towards the Native Americans. The campaign and battle accounts are the best part of the book, although still rather unbalanced in the amount of space given to each side, with the bulk of the text looking at the American campaign. On the plus side it gives a very good idea of how difficult it was to campaign in what was then a very remote area, and covers the entire campaign in the area in 1812-13 (especially good as the battle itself isn’t terribly interesting)(Read Full Review)
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5 April 2020

Retribution – The Soviet Reconquest of Central Ukraine 1943, Prit Buttar. A detailed history of the fighting on the southern part of the Eastern Front, from the aftermath of the failure of Operation Citadel to the end of the year, and covering the final liberation of Kharkov, the central Ukraine and Kiev, and with it several key industrial areas, marking the start of the series of Soviet offensives that would eventually end in Berlin (Read Full Review)
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Sniper of the Skies- The Story of George Frederick 'Screwball' Beurling DSO DFC DFM*, Nick Thomas. Looks at the career of the Canadian fighter ace George Beurling, who made his name during the desperate battles over Malta. Traces his early life, with his great enthusiasm for flying, his determination to join the RAF, but then problems fitting in, before he finally found his place in Malta. Most unusually his career actually ended before the war was over, and sadly he never seems to have adapted to life after the excitement of Malta (Read Full Review)
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King's African Rifles Soldier vs Schutztruppe Soldier - East Africa 1917-1918, Gregg Adams. Looks at the role played by the British and German units raised in their East Africa colonies using African soldiers during the long East African campaign. Demonstrates that the Germans had an early advantage, after expanding their forces quickest, but that the KAR soon rose to a similar level. Also gives a good idea of the problems of bush warfare. (Read Full Review)
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29 March 2020

Hitler's Ardennes Offensive – The German View of the Battle of the Bulge, ed. Danny S. Parker. A series of interviews with the leading figures in the Ardennes offensive – the main German army commanders Dietrich, Kramer and Manteuffel, the high commander represented by Keitel and Jodl and a later commentary by Blumentritt. Provides an invaluable insight into how these high ranking officers saw the offensive in its immediate aftermath, before the post-war process of revisionism really took off(Read Full Review)
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The Naval Siege of Japan 1945 – War Plan Orange Triumphant, Brian Lane Herder. Looks at the final stage of the US Navy’s war against Japan, the series of carrier strikes and battleship attacks on the Japanese Home Islands then helped devastate the Japanese war economy in the last months of the war. Often only looked at in brief, between the battle of Okinawa and the dropping of the Atomic Bombs, these raids were actually a key part of the US plan for the invasion of Japan, and the damage they caused (and the ability of the US fleet to operate so close to Japan) helped convince the Japanese leadership that the war was lost(Read Full Review)
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Call to Arms – Over by Christmas, David Bilton. A photographic history of the first few months of the First World War, looking at just about everything apart from the fighting itself, so covers the pre-war period, the initial mobilisation, propaganda, key personalities of 1914, the fate of Europe’s many refugees, ending with a look at Christmas 1914, by which time it was clear the war would very much not be over by Christmas(Read Full Review)
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22 March 2020

Commando General - The Life of Major General Sir Robert Laycock KCMG CB DSO, Richard Mead. A biography of one of the key figures in the formation of the British Commandos, and the head of Combined Operations during the D-Day landings. Tells the story of a leader who was successful despite limited combat experience, and a general lack of support from the higher ranks of the home army (Read Full Review)
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Heinrich Himmler, The Sinister Life of the Head of the SS and Gestapo, Heinrich Fraenkel & Roger Manvell. One of the first post-war biographies of Himmler, originally published in 1965, but still a valuable look at the life of one of the most evil men in the Nazi regime. Gives us a valuable portrait of a basically petty man, dangerous because of his combination of vile opinions and almost unrestricted power within the Third Reich. A little dated (originally published in 1965), but otherwise sound. (Read Full Review)
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Gaiseric – The Vandal who Destroyed Rome, Ian Hughes. A biography of the Vandal king Gaiseric, one of the most important figures in the fall of the Western Roman Empire as the founder of the Vandal kingdom in North Africa that both bankrupted and defeated the Empire. This is the fascinating story of a man whose career spanned the fall of the Roman Empire, and in many ways helped caused it (Read Full Review)
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15 March 2020

The Ismaili Assassins – A History of Medieval Murder, James Waterson. A detailed history of the infamous Assassins, showing that they were much more than just a band of killers. Traces their birth out of the internal disputes that split the early Islamic world, their establishment in Persia, their use of political murder to try and protect their small state, and their influence on the wider world (Read Full Review)
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Ancient Warfare Vol XII, Issue 3: The Many Means of Protection - Body armour in the ancient worldAncient Warfare Vol XII, Issue 3: The Many Means of Protection - Body armour in the ancient world Focuses on the use of armour in the ancient world, including a look at its earliest forms, the emergence of chain mail, how heavy armour could be countered and the industrial scale of armour production in the Roman Empire. Also looks at the use of magical wards in the supersticious Roman army, the use of animal pelts by standard bearers, aspects of the cavalry and the development of siege warfare [see more]
Try Ancient Warfare magazine for 6 months. Click to subscribeAncient Warfare Vol XI, Issue 1: Blotting out the Sun - Archers in the ancient world Focuses on archery across the Ancient world, covering an impressively wide geographical and historical range, from Qin China in the east to Rome in the west, and including the Neo-Assyrians, Cretan archers and the mounted archer. Also looks at Marathon, the famous Lorica Segmentata and an example of a Roman Centurion [see more]

8 March 2020

Amiens 1918 - Victory from Disaster, Gregory Blaxland. Looks at the main British contribution to the campaigns of 1918 – the battles on the Amiens sector of the Western Front, which saw one of the famous German offensives of 1918 and some of the most significant battles in the Allied fightback and the ‘100 days’ that led to victory. A bit dated, but still a useful detailed account of this key campaign(Read Full Review)
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The Secret South - A Tale of Operation Tabarin 1943-46, Ivan Mackenzie Lamb. A first hand account of a wartime expedition to Antartica, launched to counter an Argentinian claim to the area, but that turned into an impressive voyage of discovery. Written by a truly extraordinary person, this book tells an utterly fascinating tale, almost entirely divorced from the war that triggered it! (Read Full Review)
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With the Royal Navy in War and Peace, O’er the Dark Blue Sea, Vice Admiral B.B. Schofield. An autobiography of a senior British naval officer of the Second World War, covering his time as naval attaché in France and Holland in 1939-40, with the key Trade Division and sharing Eisenhower’s HQ before D-Day, as well as his time commanding several warships including two of Britain’s last battleships(Read Full Review)
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1 March 2020

Battle for Paris 1815, Paul L. Dawson. A look at the fighting between Waterloo and the official French surrender, mainly limited to a number of fairly minor encounters between the victorious Prussians and the retreating French. Suffers from something of an obsession with Grouchy that delays the start of the main topic by several chapters, but still has good archival material on the French side of this final campaign of the Napoleonic wars (Read Full Review)
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American Hannibal, Jim Stempel. A look at one of the key battles of the American War of Independence, a British defeat that began the series of events that ended with the surrender at Yorktown. Structured around the two main leaders at Cowpens, Daniel Morgan and Banastre Tarleton, tracing how they got to the battlefield, their respective military experiences and how that played into the eventual American victory (Read Full Review)
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Britain’s Last Invasion – the Battle of Fishguard 1797, Phil Carradice. A fascinating look at the last time foreign troops landed on British soil, a rather farsical French landing on the remote Pembrokeshire coast that only lasted for a few days, but that lived on much longer in local legend. Traces the evolution of the French plan, the local response to it and the rapid collapse of the invasion (read full review)
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23 February 2020

The Trafalgar Chronicle New Series 2, ed. Peter Hore. Mainly built around a series of articles looking at the early history of the US Marine Corps and the Royal Marines in the period around the Napoleonic Wars. An interesting mix of articles, ranging from the American campaigns against the Barbary Pirates to the life of an officer stranded ashore in Dorset, taking in many of the major campaigns of the period, and in particular Trafalgar. Includes a splendid selection of illustrations, most memorably those produced by one naval officer to illustrate his career (Read Full Review)
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Casca 41: The Longbowman, Tony Roberts. An atmospheric retelling of the Agincourt campaign, mainly looking at it from the level of a group of archers in a minor retinue, so away from the main decision makers. Takes us through the mud and confusion of a Medieval campaign, with all of its disease and confusion, and gives a good idea of how it must have felt for the common soldiers as Henry V’s army attempted to escape from far more numerous French forces. A strong entry in this long running series(Read Full Review)
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Panzer IV 1939-1945, Paul Thomas. A mix of a history of the Panzer IV and a modelling guide, combined with an excellent selection of photographs of the tank, showing the many variants produced and their identification features. A good introduction to the topic, with an especially good selection of well captioned photographs (Read Full Review)
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16 February 2020

Whitehaven in the Great War, Ruth Mansergh. Looks at the impact of the war on Whitehaven and the surrounding area, including the one German attack on the area, the exploits of the area’s winners of the Victoria Cross, the impact on industry, the location of the many war memorials in the area, the impact of Belgian refuges, and a wide range of other topics(Read Full Review)
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Admiral Albert Hastings Markham – A Victorian Tale of Triumph, Tragedy & Exploration, Frank Jastrzembski. A biography of a Victorian admiral most famous for his part in the disastrous lost of HMS Victoria in 1893, but who deserves to be better known for his role in Arctic exploration, and the general adventurousness  of his life! This saw him serve in Chinese waters, the South Seas, and reach the furthest point north yet achieved by explorers(Read Full Review)
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Bren Gun Carrier – Britain’s Universal War Machine, Robert Jackson. A look at one of the most numerous tracked vehicles in British service during the Second World War, originally designed to carry machine guns to the location where they were needed, but soon adapted to fulfil a much wider range of functions. Found wherever British and Commonwealth forces fought during the Second World War, this was one of the most flexibly vehicles in British service (Read Full Review)
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9 February 2020

Lost Heirs of the Medieval Crown – The Kings and Queens who Never Were, J.F. Andrews. An unusual but interesting choice of topic, looking at all of those people who could reasonably expect to have inherited the throne of England, but for whatever reason either didn’t survive to take the throne,  or were usurped by someone with a worse claim but more determination, luck or support. Starts with the sons of William the Conqueror and ends with the career of Richard III, a king involved with two of these lost heirs(Read Full Review)
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SS: Roll of Infamy - A Biographical Guide to Leading Members of the SS, Christopher Ailsby. Brings together biographies of SS members from every branch of that vast, appalling organisation, from the staff of the extermination camps to the many war criminals of the Waffen-SS. Demonstrates the dreadful scale of the atrocities committed by the SS, from the extermination camps to the murder of civilians across occupied Europe or of POWs on every front (Read Full Review)
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The Royal Navy in the Napoleonic Age – Senior Service, 1800-1815, Mark Jessop. An unusual approach to naval history, with each chapter built around fictional individuals who experiences shine a light on a particular aspect of the war. Covers the period from 1801 to the end of the war, so including the piece of Amiens, the victory at Trafalgar and the long years of blockade that followed, with a focus on the impact of the war on Plymouth and what became Devonport (Read Full Review)
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2 February 2020

Roman Emperor Zeno, Peter Crawford. A biography of the Eastern Roman Emperor most famous for being on the throne when the last western Emperor was deposed, but who managed to maintain his own position despite facing a wide range of internal and external opponents. Looks at his background, his rise to power, his difficult reign, his achievements, his rather negative later reputation, and if it was genuinely deserved (Read Full Review)
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Walcheren to Waterloo - The British Army in the Low Countries during the French Revolutionary & Napoleonic Wars 1793-1815, Andrew Limm. A good history of the unsuccessful British campaigns in the Low Countries between 1793 and 1814, looking in detail at how each army was organised and led, and examining the reasons for their general lack of success. Less convincing when looking at the idea of a transformation of the British military, although this does provide a different viewpoint of these campaigns (Read Full Review)
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Steel Wall at Arnhem - The Destruction of 4 Parachute Brigade, 19 September 1944, David Truesdale. A detailed account of the part played by the 4th Parachute Brigade in the fighting at Arnhem – their arrival on the second day, their failed attempt to break through the German defensive line between the bridge and the landing grounds and the prolonged defence of the Division position at Oosterbeek. A very detailed account of the Brigade’s activities, focusing on the entire battle, not just the events of 19 September(Read Full Review)
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26 January 2020

C-130 Hercules - A History, Martin W. Bowman. A look at the impressive career of the C-130 Hercules, one of the most successful military aircraft of all time, cover its six decades of service with the US military, as well its service with Australian, New Zealand and Great Britain, its use as a straightforward transport, as a gunship and in all sorts of specialist roles. A very readable account of the exploits of this remarkable aircraft and its crews (Read Full Review)
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Balloons and Airships – A Tale of Lighter Than Air Aviation, Anthony Burton. A rather fun look at the history of lighter than air aviation, going all the way from the earliest experiments with manned balloons, through the early 20th century heyday of the airship and finishing with today’s leasure ballooning and some of the attempts to revive the airship. A fascinating look at the brave pioneers of air flight, and the impact they had on the world. Also includes a look at the balloon at war – in the Franco-Prussian War and American Civil War and the use of the airship during the First World War(Read Full Review)
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Luftwaffe Training Aircraft – The Training of Germany’s Pilots and Aircrew through rare archive photographs, Chris Goss. A comprehensive photographic study of the many types of aircraft used to train the Luftwaffe during the Second World War. Good quality pictures and useful captions, but could have done with brief introductions to each aircraft. A good selection of photographs covering a wide range of aircraft, with useful individual captions (Read Full Review)
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19 January 2020

Carthage’s Other Wars, Dexter Hoyos. Looks at Carthage’s ‘other’ wars, their repeated conflicts against the Greeks of Sicily, the struggles to maintain their position in Africa and the late conquest of Spain. The nature of the surviving sources mean that most of the material covers the wars against the Greeks of Sicily, whose accounts of the fighting have survived, but there is also good material on the wars in North Africa and Spain. Written by an established expert on Carthage, the military narratives are supported by an excellent understanding of the city’s politics(Read Full Review)
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French Armoured Cruisers 1887-1932, John Jordan and Philippe Caresse. Looks at a group of ships that when first built posed a real threat to Britain’s naval lines of communication, but that have been largely forgotten because they were seen as badly outdated by the outbreak of the First World War. Includes a great deal of detail of the often complex design process, and some of the best plans of warships I’ve seen. An excellent study of some of the most powerful warships of their time(Read Full Review)
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Foundations of an African Civilisation - Aksum and the Northern Horn 1000 BC-AD 1300, David W. Phillipson. Focuses on the Kingdom of Aksum, a major civilisation that thrived in the northern Horn of Africa, with material on the long period before it emerged and the dynasty that followed. A detailed academic study of the kingdom most famous for introducing Christianity to Ethiopia and the earlier rock cut churches, focusing largely on the archaeological evidence. Aksum emerges as a fascinating civilisation, capable of producing some impressive monuments and supporting a sizable population in the area around its capital (Read Full Review)
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8 December 2019

Try Ancient Warfare magazine for 6 months. Click to subscribeMedieval Warfare Vol VIII, Issue 3: The Battle of Vlaardingen - Frisian ‘pirates’ vs the Ottonians Focuses on one of the rare occasions in which a mainstream feudal army was defeated by unrated foes, taking place in the same Low Countries setting as many of the more famous examples. Looks at the full context of the battle, including the rise of the Ottonians, the nature of the Frisian troops who defeated the Royal troops and the battle itself. An interesting examination of a little known battle that played a major role in the history of the Low Countries [see more]
Try Ancient Warfare magazine for 6 months. Click to subscribeMedieval Warfare Vol VII, Issue 2: A War for England - The Battle of Lincoln, 1217 Mainly focuses on the First Baron’s War, which began as a revolt against King John but later turned into a clash between Prince Louis of France and his supporters on one side and the supporters of John’s young son Henry III on the other. Includes articles on two key sieges – Rochester and Dover, and the battle of Lincoln, one of the decisive land battles of the campaign [see more]
US Army Green Beret in Afghanistan 2001-02, Leigh Neville. A look at the crucial role of the Green Berets in the fall of the Taliban in 2001-2 and the attempts to capture high value targets in the aftermath of the initial campaign. Provides a good overview of the Green Berets, and takes an unusual approach to the main campaign, following the exploits of a fictional Green Beret team during the initial campaign that led to the fall of the Taliban, before focusing on real events later in the war (Read Full Review)
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1 December 2019

The True Chronicles of Jean le Bel, 1290-1360, trans. Nigel Bryant. The first English translation of the True Chronicles of Jean le Bel, one of the most important primary sources for the reign of Edward III and the early part of the Hundred Years War, written at the time by someone who actually participated in Edward’s early campaigns in Scotland, and who talked to participants in the events that he described. A remarkable and surprisingly readable source that gives us a rare insight into how the participants in these events saw them(Read Full Review)
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Runways to Freedom - The Special Duties Squadrons of RAF Tempsford, Robert Body. A splendid history of Nos.138 and 161 Squadrons, the Special Duties squadrons that carried agents in and out of occupied Europe, dropped supplies and generally supported the work of the resistance movements. Highly secret during the war, their records were declassified fairly quickly, but this is a rare full length study of the two squadrons, and is well overdue! Not quite a day-by-day history, but not far off, with coverage of just about every lost aircraft as well as many successful missions (Read Full Review)
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The Irish Brigade 1670-1745 – The Wild Geese in French Service, D P Graham. An excellent history of the Irish troops who went on to form the Wild Geese, the exiled Irish forces fighting for the French. At its best when looking at the Williamite War in Ireland in 1678-81 when the Irish troops were fighting directly for James II after he had been expelled from England, and on the period before that, when Irish troops served the French and Spanish because the Test Acts prevented most Catholics from joining the British forces (Read Full Review)
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11 November 2019

Try Ancient Warfare magazine for 6 months. Click to subscribeAncient Warfare Vol XI, Issue 3 Roman against Roman, Caesar and Pompey in the Balkans Focuses on the key campaign in the fall of the Roman Republic, where an outnumbered Caesar came back from an early defeat to overcome Pompey and the main defenders of the Republic, removing the main opposition to his personal rule. Also looks at the sources for Legionary cavalry, the difficult art of the ambush and the presence of the cataphract in north-western Europe [see more]
Try Ancient Warfare magazine for 6 months. Click to subscribeMedieval Warfare Vol VIII, Issue 2: The English Invasion of Wales - The fall of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd Focuses on Edward I’s conquest of Wales and the fall of Llywelyn the Last, the last generally recognised independent native prince of Wales, with articles on the career of Edward I, Llywelyn’s slippery brother David, the war itself and Edward’s famous castles. Elsewhere ranges from Anglo-Saxon riddles to Korean peasant resistance to the Japanese during the Imjin War! [see more]
Try Ancient Warfare magazine for 6 months. Click to subscribeAncient Warfare Vol XII, Issue 1: Army for an Empire - Augustus’s new model military Focuses on the army used by Augustus during his rise to power and the reforms he put in place after the end of the civil war. Takes an unusual approach, built around a single long article on the main theme supported by small inserts to produce a useful study of the first Roman Imperial army. Supported by a series of articles on other Greek and Roman topics [see more]

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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