Military History Encyclopedia on the Web
22 December 2014
10 December 2014
The Luftwaffe: A History, John Killen.
A good readable account of the rise and fall of the Luftwaffe that covers all of the main fronts on which it fought, and examines the reasons for the eventual failure as well as providing a readable narrative. Although it was originally published in 1967 the overall picture still holds up. [read full review
Blood Stained Fields - The Battlefields of East Lothian, Arran Paul Johnston.
Looks at a thousand years of battles to be fought in East Lothian, from the clashes between Briton and Angle to the Jacobite revolts, covering the wars of Independence, the Tutor 'rough wooing' and the battles of the Civil War. Provides good accounts of the battles, supported by explanations of the wide wider campaigns, and with equal space given to Scottish defeats and victories. [read full review
3 December 2014
The Birth of the Royal Air Force, Wing Commander Ian Philpott.
A useful reference work on British air power during the First World War, covering the RFC, RNAS and the formation of the RAF, with useful sections on organisation, aircraft, airfields, actual operations on the home front, the Western Front and further afield as well as the training and background structure of all three organisations [read full review
Roman Conquests: Egypt and Judaea, John D. Grainger.
Looks at the last major Roman successes in the East, the conquests of Syria and Egypt, famous for the involvement of Caesar, Cleopatra and Mark Anthony and for the Jewish Revolt that led to the destruction of the Temple at Jerusalem. Demonstrates that these conquests were far more complex than their popular image, and helps explain why the Empire didn’t expand any further. [read full review
26 November 2014
Somme Intelligence - Fourth Army HQ 1916, William Langford.
A fascinating collection of the intelligence material available to the British Fourth Army on the Somme, mainly captured German material, including letters to and from the front, extracts from diaries, orders and other material taken from German prisoners or found in the German trenches after successful attacks, all of which suggested that German morale was at a low ebb, and perhaps encouraging the Allied commanders in their belief that a major victory was possible. [read full review
Accrington's Pals - The Full Story, Andrew Jackson.
Looks at the two units raised by the Mayor of Accrington, the famous Accrington Pals infantry battalion and the less well known Howitzer artillery brigade. Between them they fought in most of the major battles of 1916-18, suffering heavy losses on the Somme, and again in 1917 and 1918. [read full review
20 November 2014
Captured Eagles - Secrets of the Luftwaffe, Frederick A. Johnsen.
Looks at American efforts to understand the Luftwaffe, from wartime intelligence efforts, through the hunt for Luftwaffe assets in occupied Europe and the post-war use of German and Austrian scientists to advance American research projects. Makes some interesting points about the short-lived value of German wartime research, and the greater contribution made by the captured scientists. [read full review
13 November 2014
10 November 2014
The Jeffersonian Vision, 1801-1815, William Nestor
. Looks at the Presidential terms of Thomas Jefferson and his successor and political ally James Madison, a period best known for the Louisiana Purchase and the War of 1812. Focuses on the failure of Jefferson's political theories to adapt to the reality of American power, and Madison's drift to war in 1812. [read full review
3 November 2014
20 October 2014
6 October 2014
From the Imjin to the Hook, James Jacobs.
Interesting autobiography of a national serviceman who serving with the artillery in Korea before volunteering for a second spell of service late in the same war. A very readable account of life in the British Army in Korea, seen from a slightly unusual angle - I've not read an account from the artillery before. [read full review
24 September 2014
17 September 2014
10 September 2014
Legacy of the Lancaster, Martin W Bowman.
A collection of eighteen first hand accounts and other articles looking at the experiences of Lancaster crewmen (and a handful of their German opponents). This isn't an attempt at another history of the Lancaster, but instead is a series of snapshots of the experiences of the men who flew this iconic aircraft. [read full review
29 August 2014
The Nek - A Gallipoli Tragedy, Peter Burness.
Looks at one of the most costly disasters of the Gallipoli campaign in which four waves of dismounted light Australian cavalrymen charged towards Turkish machine guns on a narrow front and suffered appalling casualties. This study looks at the attack itself, the background to the units and their commanders, with a focus on why the later waves of attackers were allowed to make futile and costly assaults. [read full review
Dogfight - The Battle of Britain, Adam Claasen.
Focuses on the contribution of New Zealanders and Australians during the Battle of Britain, looking at the exploits of many of the 171 Anzacs who fought with Fighter Command during the battle. Built around accounts of the individual pilot's activities supported by a wider historical framework, this provides an interesting cross-section of Fighter Command's activities. [read full review
British Battleships 1889-1904 New Revised Edition, R A Burt.
Magnificent study of the Royal Navy's pre-dreadnought battleships, amongst the most powerful ships in the world when built, but seen as obsolete by the outbreak of war in 1914. Traces the development of the 'classic' pre-dreadnought design and the slow increase in the power of the secondary armament, leading up to the all-big gun ships that followed. [read full review
13 August 2014
The Battle of Barrosa 1811, John Grehan & Martin Mace.
Looks at the 1811 battle of Barrosa along with the entire siege of Cadiz and the British contribution to the war in southern Spain, an important campaign that kept Soult and a large army away from Wellington and preserved the independent Spanish government at Cadiz, a key element in keeping Spanish resistance going. [read full review
Special Forces Commander, Michael Scott.
Looks at the military career of Peter Wand-Tetley, who served as a Commando, in the SAS, with SOE in Greece, in post-war Indonesia and with the Colonial Service in the last years of the British Empire in Africa, combined with the story of each of his organisations and the campaigns they took part in. The result is an excellent picture of the work of British Special Forces in the Mediterranean theatre as well as Wand-Tetley's contribution. [read full review
6 August 2014
30 July 2014
They Have Their Exits, Airey Neave.
One of the great escape stories of the Second World War. Airey Neave was captured in 1940 and made a series of attempts to escape, before finally managing to walk out of Colditz dressed as a German officer. An excellent account of Neave's own escape efforts, tied in to his time with the Nuremburg War Crimes Tribunal. [read full review
Battlefield French Coast - Bruneval, Paul Oldfield.
A splendid account of one of the most successful small-scale raids of the Second World War, carried out to capture the key components from the most modern German radar system. Combines a detailed examination of the raid with a wider history of Radar development in Britain and Germany and the significance of the Würzburg
radar system that was its target. [read full review
25 July 2014
Helmand - Diaries of Front-Line Soldiers, Various Authors.
Focuses on the diaries of John and Ian Thornton, brothers who served in Afghanistan in 2008 and 2011-12 respectively. John was killed close to the end of his tour of duty, and profits from the book go to the John Thornton Young Achievers Foundation, a charity founded to honour his memory. The two Thornton diaries are supported by two other diaries and two personal reminiscence to produce a vivid picture of the life of a frontline solder in Afghanistan. [read full review
Kill Hitler - Operation Valkyrie 1944, Neil Short.
An interesting approach to the 1944 attempt to kill Hitler, looking at the entire coup attempt, from the initial planning, through the assassination attempt and on to the bodged coup in Berlin. Benefits greatly from the decision to focus more on the coup than the bombing, which means it covers some less familiar ground. [read full review
8 July 2014
Spying for the Führer: Hitler's Espionage Machine, Christer Jörgensen
. Looks at the full range of German intelligence agencies of the Second World War, their successes and failures and the vicious infighting that helped reduce their efficiency around the world. Includes the familiar stories of Allied double agents and successes, but also the less well known German successes, especially early in the war and around the world. [read full review
Rolling Thunder in a Gentle Land, ed. Andrew Wiest.
Excellent study of the Vietnam War looking at a far wider range of topics than in most books on this war, and with contributions from American, North Vietnamese and South Vietnamese authors and participants in the war. An impressive piece of work that gives a good overview of the Vietnam War and the wider issues that surrounded the conflict. [read full review
30 June 2014
The Real Hornblower: The Life and Times of Admiral Sir James Gordon GCB, Bryan Perrett.
Looks at the life and career of a possible inspiration for the career of Horatio Hornblower. Gordon is an interesting figure in his own right, fighting at Cape St. Vincent, under Nelson at the Nile, in the Adriatic, and taking part in the attacks on Washington and Baltimore in 1814 (helping to inspire the American National Anthem). This is a fascinating biography of a less well known British naval leader, and will also be of value to fans of Hornblower. [read full review
25 June 2014
18 June 2014
Tiger Command, Bob Carruthers and Sinclair McLay.
Translation of a novel originally written by an anonymous German author who almost certainly served in Tiger tanks during the Second World War. Fluently translated, this gives an insight into the attitude of probably quite senior German tank commander, as well as a interesting view of tank operations written by an expert. [read full review
Why Germany Nearly Won, Steven D. Mercatante.
Makes a convincing argument that quality was more important than quantity when deciding the outcome of the Second World War, from the initial German successes in the West and against the USSR to the final Allied victory. Looks at the quality of the equipment used on both sides, the training and experience of the armies and the quality of the higher commands and their battle plans and argues that these factors were more important than brute force in deciding the course of the war. A fascinating, well made argument. [Read Full Review
11 June 2014
Shanghai 1937 - Stalingrad on the Yangtze, Peter Harmsen.
Looks at one of the first major urban battles of the Twentieth Century, a Chinese attempt to expel the Japanese from Shanghai and distract them from the fighting in northern China that expanding into a major battle and led to some of the first major atrocities of the conflict between Japan and China. [read full review
6 June 2014
Talavera 1809, René Chartrand.
A good shorter history of one of Wellington's first victories in Spain, the defeat of King Joseph and Marshalls Victor and Jourdan at Talavera. Good on the problems within the French command, the difficult relationship between Wellington and his Spanish allies, and more generous to the Spanish than many English-language accounts of the battle. [read full review
US Heavy Cruisers 1941-45: Pre War Classes, Mark Stille.
Looks at the 'treaty cruisers' built in the US between the wars, limited by treaty to 10,000 tons and 8in guns. Five classes of treaty cruisers were produced and they played a major role in the fighting during the Second World War, despite the limits imposed on them by the treaty restrictions. [read full review
Medium Mark A Whippet, David Fletcher.
Looks at the series of medium tanks developed during the First World War, from the Mark A Whippet which actually saw combat to the Mark D, an amphibious tank that never progressed beyond the prototype stage. Includes an excellent selection of contemporary photographs including some rare shots of the early prototypes and later variants [read full review
19 May 2014
Trench, Stephen Bull.
Looks at the evolution of the defensive lines on the Western Front of the First World War, from the thin lines of 1914 to the elaborate defensive networks of the late war period and the weapons used to try and break the deadlock. Supported by some fascinating wartime illustrations from military manuals, along with contemporary trench maps. [read full review
15 May 2014
Of Those We Loved, I L 'Dick' Read.
One of the best Great War memoirs I have ever read, following the author from his arrival on the Western Front late in 1915, through the battle of the Somme, periods spent in Flanders, promotion to officer, to Egypt and back and during the final victorious battles of 1918. Equally good on periods in the front line, behind the line, quiet time and the major battles, this is an outstanding memoir. [read full review
I Was Hitler's Pilot, Lieutenant-General Hans Baur.
As Hitler's pilot Baur was part of his inner circle, close to him from the early election campaigns where he first won Hitler's trust, to the last days in the bunker in Berlin. His memoirs provide a rare 'behind the scenes' view of Hitler's regime written by someone who was close to him for over a decade and survived the last days of the war in Berlin. Baur provides a useful view of Hitler the skilful boss, able to win the long term devotion of so many. [read full review
5 May 2014
The White Rose of Stalingrad, Bill Yenne.
Fascinating biography of Lidiya Vladimirovona Litvyak, the highest scoring female fighter ace of all time, looking at her life and aviation career, the wider history of female aviation in the Soviet Union and the impact on her of the turbulent history of the Soviet Union (her father was killed in Stalin's purges). [read full review
Vietnam - A View from the Front Lines, Andrew Wiest.
An impressive collection of first hand accounts that trace the American soldier's journey during the Vietnam War, from their pre-war lives, through entering the army (or Marines), training, first experiences of Vietnam, the experience of battle, injury or loss, the return home, either at the end of a tour of duty or after being wounded, and life after Vietnam. [read full review
Naval Firepower - Battleship Guns and Gunnery in the Dreadnaught Era, Norman Friedman.
A detailed history of the evolution of fire control methods during the period of the big-gun battleship, focusing on a key area of technology without which the expensive big guns would have been of little value. The topic is complex but Friedman does a good job of explaining the key concepts and the technology that was developed in an attempt to allow the guns on a warship that was probably moving at high speed to hit a second distant warship. [read full review
29 April 2014
British Aircraft Carriers - Design, Development and Service Histories, David Hobbs.
The definitive history of the British aircraft carrier, written by a former RN officer who served on carriers and was deeply involved in the work of the Invincible
class carriers. As a result the author has a much more in-depth knowledge of the technical background to carrier design that most, and we get a much better understanding of the thinking behind each new type of carrier, their abilities and limitations and how that affected their service careers. [read full review
Unicorns - The History of the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry 1794-1899, Jonathan Hunt.
An unusual regimental history that examines the early history of the Sherwood Rangers, when they were a volunteer Yeomanry regiment that was only liable for service within the UK, and that hardly ever left Nottinghamshire. Instead it was used as an early police force, countering the Luddites, Chartists, supporters of reform and other rioters, as well as acting as a hub of social life. This is an useful examination of the early existence of a regiment that went on to serve in the wars of the twentieth century. [read full review
Tiger, Thomas Anderson.
A very useful book on the Tiger tank, using contemporary battle reports and other German documents to examine its service record, looking at issues including its reliability, performance in combat, the structure of the units that used the tank and the tactics used with it. The result is a very valuable study of the effectiveness of the Tiger, based on original combat reports and thus reflecting both its virtues and its flaws. [read full review
23 April 2014
Between Giants - The Battle for the Baltics in World War II, Prit Buttar.
An excellent look at the impact of the Second World War on the Baltic States, looking at their pre-war histories, the quick German victories of 1941, the Baltic holocaust and the return of the Red Army in 1944-45. Excellent coverage of the holocaust and the more uncomfortable aspects of the period as well as good readable accounts of the military campaigns. [read full review
USAF and VNAF A-1 Skyraider Units of the Vietnam War, Byron E Hukee.
Looks at the almost fifteen year long career of the A-1 Skyraider in the skies over Vietnam, where it served as a ground attack aircraft as well as supporting search and rescue aircraft. Written by a former USAF pilot who actually flew the Skyraider in Vietnam, and includes a large number of eyewitness accounts by his fellow pilots, both American and Vietnamese. [read full review
Disaster at Stalingrad - An Alternate History, Peter Tsouras.
A thoroughly entertaining novel of alternative history imagining a very different version of 1942 that ends with a crushing German victory at Stalingrad at the end of a year in which a whole series of decisions and events across the world work out differently to reality. Flawed as a work of counter-factual history by the sheer amount of changes to events, but a very entertaining novel of alternative history. [read full review
16 April 2014
Walking D-Day, Paul Reed.
A selection of twelve walks that cover all of the main battlefields of D-Day, including the five invasion beaches, the commando and ranger operations and the airborne operations. Splits each section into a historical introduction followed by the walk itself. A successful format and a book that should act as a good guide to the area around the Normandy beaches. [read full review
The Anglo Saxon Age - An Alternative History of Britain, Timothy Venning.
Contains a huge number of possible alternative histories, covering the period from the early Anglo-Saxon settlement or conquest period to the dramatic events of 1066, with each chapter starting from a genuine historical point in time and working forward. A fun read and a valuable reminder of how little we really know about the early stages of the Anglo-Saxon period and how big a part chance played in the events of the period. [read full review
9 April 2014
Handbook of Roman Legionary Fortresses, M.C. Bishop.
An impressive gazetteer of the permanent Legionary Fortress of the Roman Empire, with details of location, layout, plans and a list of documentary sources for each of the locations. Also includes a useful introduction that examines the nature of the fortresses and the evidence for their use and design. [read full review
Ulysses S. Grant, Mark Lardas.
A good short biography of Grant, with a clear understanding of his role as General in charge of the US Army and the wide ranging responsibilities that came with it, as well as a good run through his earlier career, victories in the west and around Chattanooga, and his pre- and post- war failings. [read full review
1 April 2014
Orde Wingate, Jon Diamond.
A biography of Wingate that really does focus on his life and avoids the temptation to become a history of the Chindits. Covers his early career in Palestine and Ethiopian in just as much detail as the time in Burma. Provides a good brief biography of this controversial figure, who still divides opinion seventy years after his death. [read full review
17 March 2014
If Rome Hadn't Fallen, Timothy Venning.
Counter-factual history that looks at how the fall of the Western Roman Empire might have been avoided and what the long term consequences of that might have been. Combines some interesting credible thoughts with wilder speculation including Roman colonies in the Americans. A fun read for those who enjoy counter-factual history [read full review
4 March 2014
Leyte 1944 - The Soldiers' Battle, Nathan N. Prefer.
A very detailed account of the land battle on Leyte, where the Japanese decided to make their main defensive stand in the Philippines and where the American victory ensured that the Japanese would be unable to hold on to the rest of the Philippines. This will stand as the definitive account of this little known but crucial battle in the Pacific War. [read full review
25 February 2014
The Battle for Syria 1918-1920, John D. Grainger.
Mainly focuses on the First World War battles between the British and the Ottoman Empire for control of Syria, with an interesting section on the post-war struggle for control of the country. Covers the campaign in Palestine, the Arab revolt and the Ottoman side of the fighting. [read full review
Armoured Warfare in the Korean War, Anthony Tucker-Jones.
Focuses mainly on the ex-Soviet, American and British tanks that fought in Korea, supported by useful captions, a good brief history of the war explaining how the role of armour changed, with a selection of pictures that include good coverage of the tanks involved in the war, plus some that provide a more rounded view of the war. [read full review
12 February 2014
Reign of Terror - The Budapest Memoirs of Valdemar Langlet, 1944-1945, Valdemar Langlet.
The memoirs of the leader of the Swedish Red Cross in Hungary, recounting his efforts to save as many people as possible during the chaotic rule of the last pro-German governments, including the vicious 'Arrow Cross' regime. His 'Letters of Protection' saved thousands of lives during this period, and his memoirs discuss how this came about, his other work, and describes life in Hungary under the last pro-German governments and during the start of the Soviet occupation. [read full review
Fighting with the Desert Rats, Major H.P. Samwell MC.
The memoirs of an infantry officer in the Desert Rats, written during the war and left unmodified after the author's death in combat in 1945. Gives a good idea of the chaos at the front and the very different atmosphere behind the lines. Also stands out for the author's interest in the views of other nationalities, and his interviews with representatives of the many different communities of North Africa. [read full review
7 February 2014
1914-1918 An Eyewitness to War, ed. Bob Carruthers
, Four very varied eyewitness accounts of the First World War, including a look at the front by the Director of French Propaganda, a memoir of four weeks spent in the Austrian Army at the start of the war, an American journalist's visit to Verdun and the memoirs of an Official War Artist. These are all fascinating, and provide a very different view of the war to the normal soldier's memoirs. [read full review
28 January 2014
Dead Man's Hill, George Peter Algar.
Sequel to the Shepherd Lord, this novel follows the life of Lord Henry Clifford during the reign of the first two Tudor monarchs, building up to the crushing defeat of a Scottish army at Flodden in 1513. The episodic story is told against the background of the constant state of tension on the Scottish border, and life on the borders is the main theme of this entertaining novel. [read full review
24 January 2014
The Transformation of British Naval Strategy, James Davey.
A serious academic study of the major British fleet that operated in the Baltic from 1808-1812 protecting a vital British trade route, the complex supply system that allowed it to stay on station for so long and the impact such a sizable effort had on the organisation of the British state. A valuable contribution to our understanding of the roots of Britain's naval dominance during the Napoleonic period. [read full review
8 January 2014
Glider Pilots in Sicily, Mike Peters.
Looks at the first major British airborne operations, during the invasion of Sicily, and the role played by the glider pilots who flew their flimsy aircraft into battle and then fought as infantry. Traces the development of the Glider Pilot Regiment, their training as 'total soldiers', the disastrous early operations and the impressive way in which the glider-borne troops recovered from their chaotic journey to Sicily to carry out their missions. [read full review
3 January 2014
The Portuguese in the Age of Discovery, c.1340-1665, David Nicolle.
Looks at the military organisations that allowed the Portuguese to create and then hold onto a world-wide empire despite a forced merger with Spain and a length war with the Dutch. An interesting examination of what became one of the most integrated and multi-racial armies of its time, and a key element in the long-term success of Portugal [read full review