Military History Encyclopedia on the Web

2017 onwards - 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

29 December 2015

Fabled Fifteen - The Pacific War Saga of Carrier Air Group 15, Thomas McKelvey Cleaver. A history of probably the most successful US Carrier Air Group of the Second World War (despite only serving on the front line for seven months), which fought at the battles of the Philippine Sea and Leyte Gulf, helped sink the battleship Musashi and carrier Zuikaku, and whose fighter squadron had more 'aces' than combat losses. [read full review]
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The Norway Campaign: and the Rise of Churchill 1940, Anthony Dix. A good single volume history of the Norway campaign, looking at the land, sea and air aspects of the campaign, from Norwegian, British and German points of view. Particularly useful for its account of the Norwegian resistance to invasion, which is often skipped over in accounts of the British intervention. [read full review]
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Records of the Medieval Sword, Ewart Oakeshott. A detailed study of hundreds of surviving Medieval swords, looking at their physical form, known history and any surviving decoration, almost all supported with a photo of the weapon. Invaluable if you are interested the Medieval Sword, useful if you are interested in Medieval Warfare or weaponry, perhaps a bit specialised otherwise. [read full review]
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16 December 2015

Commonwealth Cruisers 1939-45, Angus Konstam . Looks at the cruisers that fought with the navies of Australia, New Zealand and Canada during the Second World War, playing a part in the Pacific, Atlantic and Mediterranean theatres. Focuses heavily on the navies and the ships themselves rather than their operational histories, so good if you want to know what the Dominions had, less so if you want to know what they did. Supported by excellent photos and illustrations.  [read full review]
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French Destroyers 1922-1956, John Jordan & Jean Moulin. A splendid study of the French Torpilleurs d'escadre and Contre-Torpilleurs (large 'super destroyers') of the interwar period, impressive warships that had limited wartime careers. Covers both the technical features of the ships and their service careers, supported by excellent plans and contemporary photographs. I can’t imagine anyone every publishing a more detailed book on this topic in English. [read full review]
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Naval Resistance to Britain's Growing Power in India 1660-1800 - The Saffron Banner and the Tiger of Mysore, Philip MacDougall. Looks at the clashes between British naval power and the fleets of the Marathas and Mysore, in the period when the East Indies Company went from being a trading company to a major political power in India. The author really knows his material, and as a result we get a very detailed picture of various Indian fleets, their ships, organisation and leadership and the reasons they failed to overcome the British. [read full review]
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9 December 2015

Where the Iron Crosses Grow - The Crimea 1941-44, Robert Forczyk. A detailed history of the series of complex campaigns fought in the Crimea between 1941 and 1944, including the German conquest, two failed Soviet counterattacks and the eventual liberation of the area in 1944. Introduction also includes an account of the fighting during the Russian Revolution. An excellent history of a more complex campaign than I had realised. [read full review]
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Winchester Lever-Action Rifles, Martin Pegler. A look at one of the first important rapid fire rifles, a firearm that became iconic as one of the weapons that 'Won the West', and a familiar fixture in western movies. Looks at its predecessors, the technology that made it work, the many variants produced, and its widespread use across America. Includes some excellent contemporary plans of the workings. [read full review]
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Point Pleasant 1774 - Prelude to the American Revolution, John F Winkler . Looks at a war between Virginia and a largely Shawnee army fought on the eve of the American War of Independence. With good use of sources from both sides of the conflict, Winkler traces the course of a war that allowed the United States of America to claim the area between the Ohio and the Appalachian Mountains as part of the new country. [read full review]
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30 November 2015

Naval Battles of the First World War, Geoffrey Bennett . Although this was first published in the 1960s it is still a good account of the major surface clashes of the First World War, looking at the early clashes in the world's oceans and the series of battles in the North Sea, ending with Jutland. The final part of the book looks at the U-boat war, although not in as much detail as the earlier surface sections. [read full review]
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Bush War Rhodesia 1966-1980, Peter Baxter . A valuable look at a conflict in which the well trained Rhodesian military won almost every direct confrontation of the Bush War, but at the same time lost the overall war, after failing to protect their population from repeated attack. Takes a balanced approach to the topic, acknowledging that the Rhodesian cause was morally insupportable and the overall campaign almost unwinnable, even while examining a military campaign in which just about every direct clash was won by the Rhodesian military. [read full review]
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Roll of Honour - Schooling and the Great War, Barry Blades. Looks at the impact of the Great War on the British school system, including the changes to lessons, loss of teachers, arrival of refugees, the contribution made to the war effort by teachers, the different ways in which pupils from different schools were treated by the army, and the way the fallen were commemorated during and after the war. [read full review]
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26 November 2015

Edgar: King of the English, 959-975, ed. Donald Scragg. A series of articles that use the limited available evidence to look into the reign of King Edgar, one of the more obscure Anglo-Saxon monarchs. Shows how much can be learned from sources such as coins or lists of charter witnesses in a period when the chronicles don't provide much evidence. [read full review]
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Shot Down, Steve Snyder. A fascinating look at the career of a bomber crew, before and after they were shot down over the Franco-Belgian border, made more interesting (and sombre) by the varied fates of the crew, who were scattered widely as they bailed out. Written by the pilot's son, and thus with access to his father's letters and memories. [read full review]
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Decline and Fall of Napoleon's Empire - How the Emperor Self-Destructed, Digby Smith . An interesting examination of everything the author believes Napoleon did wrong, painting a picture of a despot who failed to adapt his working methods to the increased scale of warfare from 1809 onwards. Does a useful job of bringing together all of the flaws in Napoleon's systems and his campaigns in one place. [read full review]
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20 November 2015

French Artillery and the Gribeauval System 1786-1815 Volume I: The Foot Artillery, Ludovic Letrun and Jean-Marie Mongin . Looks at the ever changing uniforms, the guns and the structure of the French Foot Artillery during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. Allows one to trace the changing nature of the French regime, as reflected in its flags and uniforms, the changes in the artillery as the scale of the French armies increased, as well as providing very useful details on the actual guns themselves. [read full review]
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Shenandoah Valley 1862, Clayton and James Donnell. Looks at the campaign that established 'Stonewall' Jackson's reputation as a battlefield commander, and saw him defeat a series of larger Union armies in a series of battles where he was rarely outnumbered on the battlefield. A good account of the campaign, supported by a series of useful campaign and battle maps that help demonstrate Jackson's dizzying pace of movement. [read full review]
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The Devil's Garden - Rommel's Desperate Defense of Omaha Beach on D-Day, Steven Zaloga. An excellent attempt to work out exactly why the attackers on Omaha Beach took so many more casualties than on any other D-Day beach, looking at each of the possible factors that have been suggested over time and examining how valid each actually is. Comes up with some convincing conclusions, and adds a great deal to our understanding of this battle. [read full review]
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10 November 2015

Eighth Army in Italy 1943-45: The Long Hard Slog, Richard Doherty. A good account of the twenty month long campaign on the Italian mainland, looking at the performance of the multi-national 8th Army and its three commanding officers, as they fought to overcome a series of strong German defensive positions. Shows why the campaign took a year and a half, and how the 8th Army finally achieved victory. [read full review]
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Mark Antony - A Plain Blunt Man, Paolo de Ruggiero . Nice to have a biography devoted to Mark Antony in his own right rather than as part of someone else's story, but be aware that the author is very biased in favour of Mark Antony and rather stretches the evidence to make his case. Readable and the author knows his sources, but would be better without the bias. [read full review]
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Medieval Maritime Warfare, Charles D Stanton. Mainly a narrative history of the main periods of naval warfare during the Middle Ages, covering the slow decline of Byzantine naval power, the brief Norman dominance of the central Mediterranean, the Crusades, the clashes between Genoa and Pisa and Venice and Genoa, the War of the Sicilian Vespers, the Vikings, Normans and the Hanse and the battles of the Hundred Years War. [read full review]
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2 November 2015

Try Ancient Warfare magazine for 6 months. Click to subscribeAncient Warfare VIII Issue 5: Rebellion against the Empire: The Jewish-Roman Wars. Focuses on the three major Jewish revolts of 66-135 AD, in which the Romans struggled successful to overcome determined Jewish resistance, and each of which resulted in worse hardships for the Jews within the Roman Empire. Most articles look at the first revolt, but there is one each on the second and third, as well as a look at the possible use of dogs in Greek warfare and on Alexander the Great's conquest of the Persian coastal satrapies [see more]
Try Ancient Warfare magazine for 6 months. Click to subscribeAncient Warfare VIII Issue 6: The Savage Captor: Taken Captive, the Roman conquest of Greece. . Looks at the series of wars that saw the Romans go from minor players in the far west to the dominant power in Greece, after a series of wars considered to be unusually savage by Greek historians. Includes articles on the reasons the Romans were seen as so brutal, their equipment, and the key battle of Cynoscephalae. [see more]
Try Ancient Warfare magazine for 6 months. Click to subscribeAncient Warfare Vol IX, Issue 3: Mighty Rulers of Anatolia - Hittites and their successors. Focuses on the Hittites, one of the great empires of pre-classical antiquity, and takes great advantage of the surprising range of documents that have survived from that period. Includes a set of rules for the Guards and horse training instructions. Also looks at Hittite fortifications, the Hittite army and the Neo-Hittite kingdoms.   [see more]

16 October 2015

My Escape from Donington Hall, Gunther Plüschow.. The memoir of the only German POW to escape home from mainland Britain during either World War. Includes a fascinating section on life in the pre-war German colony of Kiao-Chow, the author's failed attempt to get home from China and his eventual successful escape from Donington Hall. Presents an unusual twist on the POW escape story. [read full review]
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Agincourt: Myth and Reality 1415-2015, Stephen Cooper. Looks at a series of the most important issues that surround the battle of Agincourt and attempts to unravel the truth behind them. Aimed at reader with prior knowledge of the battle, this focused approach provides some convincing answers to key questions about the battle. A useful addition to the literature on this well-studied battle. [read full review]
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The Last Ironsides - The English Expedition to Portugal, 1662-1668, Jonathon Riley. Looks at the experiences of a small British force that was sent to help the Portuguese in their war of independence from Spain and that went on to play an important role in the final stage of the war, taking part in several of the rare battles and the more numerous sieges. A fascinating account of an almost forgotten episode in English military history. [read full review]
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6 October 2015

Battleship Ramillies: The Final Salvo, ed. Ian Johnston with Mick French . A series of first-hand accounts of life on the Ramillies, almost all during the Second World War, where she served on convoy escort duty, was badly damaged during the invasion of Madagascar and fired so many 15in shells in support of the D-Day invasions that her main guns had to be replaced.  [read full review]
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The Knight who Saved England, Richard Brooks. A biography of William Marshal, the most famous English knight of his day and a key figure in the chaos at the end of the reign of King John. Starting as a famous competitor in tournaments, Marshal married a major heiress and moved into the top rank of Medieval society, where he played an important role in securing the throne for the infant Henry III. [read full review]
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Roman Soldier vs Germanic Warrior - 1st Century AD, Lindsay Powell. Focuses on one of the most famous defeats suffered by the Romans, in the Teutoburg Pass, and the Roman attempts to get revenge on the German leader Arminius and his allies. Interesting to see how well the German foot were able to cope with the Roman Legions, even capable of facing them in formal lines of battle for short periods [read full review]
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23 September 2015

The battle of Prestonpans 1745, 2nd Edition, Martin Margulies. An excellent history of the first part of the '45, covering the build-up to the Jacobite uprising, the brief campaign in the north of Scotland, the fall of Edinburgh and the battle itself. Detailed use of the primary sources allows us to trace who knew what when and why they acted as they did, and explains Cope's march north and his actions around Edinburgh before the battle. [read full review]
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Forces of the Hanseatic League 13th-15th Centuries, David Nicolle . Looks at the very varied armed forces that served the network of trading cities that formed the Hanseatic League, at its peak a powerful naval force capable of taking on major European powers and on land of fighting off its aristocratic neighbours. Covers both land and sea forces, so has a lot of ground to cover. [read full review]
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The Carthaginians 6th-2nd Century BC, Andrea Salimbeti and Raffaele D'Amato. Mainly looks at the land forces fielded by Carthage during the period between its first campaigns on Sicily and its destruction by the Romans at the end of the Third Punic War. Includes the native Carthaginian and more numerous mercenary forces and looks at some of the less familiar campaigns fought by Carthage. [read full review]
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9 September 2015

German Infantryman vs Russian Infantryman 1914-15, Robert Forczyk. Looks at the early clashes in East Prussia between the pre-war regulars of the German and Russian armies, a period in which the Russians sometimes performed much better than is generally acknowledged. Looks at one well known and two obscure battles, and produces a balanced view of the conflict on this front. [read full review]
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Images of War: Armoured Warfare and the Fall of France, 1940, Anthony Tucker-Jones. Starts with chapters on British, French and German tanks and the Maginot Line, then looks at the campaigns in Belgium and the Netherlands, the German breakthrough that ended at Dunkirk and finishes with the Fall of France. A good choice of pictures that well illustrate the campaign [read full review]
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The End of Empire: Napoleon's 1814 Campaign, George Nafziger . A very detailed examination of Napoleon's attempts to defend France against a massive Allied invasion early in 1814. Despite one of his best performances Napoleon was unable to take advantage of poor Allied leadership, and was actually absent when the Allies finally captured Paris, fatally undermining his legitimacy and public support and ending his regime (at least until 1815). [read full review]
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28 August 2015

Buffalo Bill: Forts, Fights and Other Sites, Jeff Barnes. Combines a biography of Buffalo Bill with a travel guide to the important locations in his life that fall within the Great Plains and 'Wild West' area. Includes coverage of his Civil War service, and involvement in some of the most famous incidents of the Indian Wars. Gives a good feel for the world that Cody inhabited. [read full review]
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Feeding Nelson's Navy - The True Story of Food at Sea in the Georgian Era, Janet MacDonald. A splendid examination of the food eaten onboard British warships during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, looking at the food itself, the systems put in place to supply it, its quality, how it was cooked and how it was eaten. A very readable account of this important topic, while still including a look at the administrative background. [read full review]
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Nazi Policy on the Eastern Front, 1941: Total War, Genocide and Radicalization, ed. Alex J Kay, Jeff Rutherford and David Stahel. Brings some of the latest international research on the first year of fighting and atrocities on the Eastern Front to the English-language audience. A rather grim read, but no less valuable for that, this traces the terrible way in which the pace and level of atrocities accelerated during the first year of fighting on the Eastern Front, slowly building up to the full scale holocaust [read full review]
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18 August 2015

Freely I Served, Major General Stanislaw Sosabowski . The fascinating autobiography of the commander of the 1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade, one of the units caught up in the Allied defeat at Arnhem. Traces his career from his early service in the Austro-Hungarian Army, through the German invasion of Poland and on to his time in exile, the formation of his Parachute Brigade, arguments about its use and its eventually deployment at Arnhem. [read full review]
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The Cover up at Omaha Beach: Maisy Battery and the US Rangers, Gary Sterne . A very detailed account of the US Ranger's involvement on D-Day and in the following days, including the famous attack on Pointe du Hoc and the almost forgotten assault on the nearby Maisy gun batteries, written by the man who rediscovered that long-buried German position. At its heart is a fantastic collection of eye witness accounts, some from interviews conducted by the author himself. [read full review]
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HMS Bellerophon, Colin Pengelly. . One of the earliest single-ship histories, originally published in 1966 and following the story of a ship of the line that fought at the Glorious First of June, the Battle of the Nile and at Trafalgar. Good on the battles, and provides a good cross section of naval warfare of the period, although in keeping with its original date shows less interest in the more routine elements of her service career. [read full review]
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13 August 2015

The battle of the Bulge: Hitler's Final Gamble, Patrick Delaforce. A good account of the battle of the Bulge, including material on Hitler's subsidiary attacks and the air war on both sides. Supported by good maps, with detailed accounts of the activities of the individual US divisions caught out by the German attack. Has a slightly odd structure in places, but still a useful history of the final German offensive in the west. [read full review]
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Lord Chelmsford and the Zulu War, Major the Hon. Gerard French, D.S.O. This is something of an historical oddity - a book published in 1939 vigorously (and rather unconvincingly) defending Lord Chelmsford's performance during the Zulu War, written by the son of Field Marshal French of BEF fame. Still has some value because of the detailed account of the war, although one always has to be aware of the author's bias. [read full review]
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Germany's Secret Masterplan, Chris McNab. . Looks at how the Nazis came to power, what they did to German society once in power, and what they did and planned to do in the conquered territories. Covering the pre-war and wartime periods, with some material on the Nazi plans for a post-victory world. Also has sections on rearmament and on some of the more advanced weapons planned or produced in the Third Reich. [read full review]
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29 July 2015

Teenage Tommy: Memoirs of a Cavalryman in the First World War, ed. Richard van Emden . The memoirs of Benjamin Clouting, a very young cavalryman, who was present when the BEF fired its first shots of the First World War, and who despite some serious wounds was still at the front when the war finally ended. A fascinating account of the experiences of a pre-war Cavalry regular, demonstrating the wide range of roles performed by the cavalry during the Great War. [read full review]
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Darwin Spitfires - The Real Battle for Australia, Anthony Cooper . A very detailed fight-by-fight analysis of the efforts by a group of Spitfire squadrons to defend Darwin against Japanese raids, a campaign that saw both sides over-estimate their successes, but that ended with the Japanese withdrawing from the battle as the war went against them elsewhere. A useful addition to the literature both on the Spitfire and on the only major long term attack on Australian soil during the Second World War [read full review]
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Waterloo: The Decisive Victory, ed. Colonel Nick Lipscombe . Ten excellent articles covering the main aspects of the Waterloo campaign, from the strategic background to the long term impact of the battle, as well as the main elements of the fighting itself. Provides good detailed examinations of the key elements of the battle, in particular the main cavalry charges and the Prussian contribution to the fighting [read full review]
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20 July 2015

Medieval Warfare Vol IV Issue 1: Alexander Nevsky Prince of NovgorodMedieval Warfare Vol IV Issue 1: Alexander Nevsky Prince of Novgorod. Focuses on the life of one of Medieval Russia's great national heroes, a leader who fought off attacks from the Catholic west while allying himself with the more powerful Mongols. Also looks at Saladin's attitude to hostages, the battle of Montlhéry and the poem Y Gododdin. [read full review]
Medieval Warfare Vol V Issue 1: Treason and Treachery - Betrayal in the Medieval World. Looks at some of the most famous cases of medieval treachery, from the battle of Manzikert to the fall of Richard III. Also looks at the problems involved in moving a museum collection, fragments of an Anglo-Saxon poem and the Swiss Pike.. [read full review]
Medieval Warfare Vol V Issue 2: Carolus Magnus: Frankish heir to Ancient Rome. Focuses on the military career of Charlemagne, the greatest of the Frankish kings and the first Holy Roman Emperor. Looks at several of his major wars as well as the organisation of his army. Away from the theme looks at the Hussite victory at Aussig, and the English law of treason. . [read full review]

3 July 2015

The Road to Königgrätz: Helmuth von Moltke and the Austro-Prussian War 1866, Quintin Barry . Looks at the events of the war that saw Prussia become the dominant power in northern Germany, a key step on the road to German unification. Focuses on the military campaigns, the role of von Moltke in the war, the Austrian reaction and the clashes between the Prussian military and political establishments. [read full review]
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Gettysburg: The Last Invasion, Allen C. Guelzo . An excellent account of the Gettysburg campaign, illustrated by a splendid selection of eyewitness accounts. Focuses on the actions of individual commanders, from Meade and Lee down to regimental commanders, with a focus on the corps commanders and their activities and attitudes. Supported by plenty of accounts from further down the command chain and from civilians caught up in the fighting. [read full review]
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British Warship in the Age of Sail 1817-1863, Rif Winfield. Splendid reference work looking at the complete service histories of every warship to serve in the Royal Navy between 1817 and 1863, including the periods before and after those dates. Covers the period that saw the introduction of steam power into the Navy, and the appearance of the first ironclads, a period of increasingly rapid change. [read full review]
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23 June 2015

Rising Sun, Falling Skies: The Disastrous Java Sea Campaign of World War II, Jeffrey R. Cox. A brilliant account of the doomed desperate attempt by the Allies to defend the Dutch East Indies, focusing on the naval campaign that ended with crushing defeats in the Java Sea and the loss of most Allied warships either in battle or while attempting to escape. [read full review]
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Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America's Vietnam, Frederick Logevall . A brilliant study of the French war in Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh and Giap's political and military campaigns for independence, and the slow increase in American involvement in the country, looking at how the United States got dragged into her own war in Indochina. [read full review]
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Caribbean Volunteers at War - The Forgotten Story of the RAF's 'Tuskagee Airmen', Mark Johnson . An excellent book that looks at the experiences of the black Caribbean volunteers who served in RAF Bomber Command during the Second World War, tracing their steps from their island homes, through the difficult process of volunteering, to their experiences of RAF life, combat and in some cases captivity as a POW. [read full review]
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16 June 2015

Images of War Special: M4 Sherman, Pat Ware & Brian Delf. Larger than normal entry in the Images of War series looking at the M4 Sherman tank, with a good range of photos, including some unusual pictures of tanks under construction, the interior of the Sherman and individual components, all supported by good captions and useful chapter introductions. [read full review]
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AD69 Emperors, Armies and Anarchy, Nic Fields . A good account of the brutal Roman Civil War of AD 69, the Year of Four Emperors, somewhat marred by a series of unrelated digressions on modern politics. The main text follows each emperor in turn, an effective layout once you realise what's going on.  [read full review]
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Covert Radar and Signals Interception - The Secret Career of Eric Ackermann, Peter Jackson & David Haysom . Looks at the long career of a scientist who served with an honorary commission in the RAF, won the George Medal during the Second World War and went on to have a long career in the first part of the Cold War. [read full review]
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8 June 2015

Two Fronts, One War, Charles W. Sasser.. Contains some unusual eyewitness accounts of the fighting during the Second World War, including life in an all-black armoured unit in Patton's army, combat in the cold in the Aleutians, the attitude of Japanese prisoners after the end of the fighting and an unusual view of the Nuremburg trials. [read full review]
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The Decisive Campaigns of the Desert Air Force 1942-1945, Bryn Evans. . Looks at the activities of the RAF's tactical air force in the North Africa and Italian Theatres, where it developed many of the close support techniques used with greater fame by 2nd Tactical Air Force in Normandy. This is a valuable account of the services of a key, but often overlooked, part of the wartime RAF. [read full review]
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Challenge of Battle - The Real Story of the British Army in 1914, Adrian Gilbert . Looks at the early campaigns of the BEF, from its first battle at Mons to the costly fighting at Ypres, where the pre-war British army was almost destroyed. A good up-to-date campaign history covering this pivotal period of mobile warfare and the start of the stalemate of the Western Front. [read full review]
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29 May 2015

Waterloo 1815 (1) - Quatre Bras, John Franklin . First of a trilogy on the Waterloo campaign, looking at the battle at the crossroads of Quatre Bras where Napoleon suffered his first setback of the campaign. A well written, densely packed account of the battle, with two thirds of the book dedicated to the actual fighting. Can be read as a stand-alone title or as part of the trilogy. [read full review]
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Waterloo 1815 (2): Ligny, John Franklin. . Second in a trilogy on the Waterloo campaign, looking at the least familiar of the three battles to the English-language reader, the French victory over the Prussians at Ligny, fought on the same day as the successful Allied defensive battle at Quatre Bras. This is a good study of Napoleon's last battlefield victory, and the last of the many 'missed opportunities' of his later years. [read full review]
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Waterloo 1815 (3) Mont St Jean and Wavre, John Franklin . Focuses on the events of 18 June, with most of the text dedicated to the fighting at Waterloo, allowing the author to pack in a great deal of information into the limited space. An excellent account of the battle, weaving the Prussian contribution into the main narrative to give a better impression of how important their contribution actually was. [read full review]
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20 May 2015

The Twilight of the East India Company - The Evolution of Anglo-Asian Commerce and Politics 1790-1860, Anthony Webster . A look at the declining years of the East India Company, where it lost first its monopoly of the Indian trade and then the China trade and its commercial activities to become almost a branch of the British Government in India. Also looks at the Company's rivals and how well they performed in India. [read full review]
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Special Forces Pilot - A Flying Memoir of the Falklands War, Richard Hutchings. . Follows the experiences of a helicopter pilot during the Falklands War, as he got used to new night vision equipment, supported early Special Forces operations on the island and then took part in a rather farcical operation on the mainland of South America. Gives a feel for an operation conducted on a very narrow margin. [read full review]
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The Spartan Supremacy 412-371 BC, Mike Roberts and Bob Bennett. . Looks at the short spell between the end of the Great Peloponnesian War and the battle of Leuctra where Sparta's political power matched her military reputation. The authors look at how Sparta proved to be politically unequal to her new position, and how this period of supremacy ended with Sparta's military reputation in tatters and her political power fatally wounded. [read full review]
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5 May 2015

The Sea Warriors, Richard Woodman. Looks at the exploits of frigates during the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812, mainly when they were operating away from the main battle fleets, a mix of long patient patrols and blockades and daring battles against similar forces and French bases around the world. An exciting account of this important aspect of naval warfare. [read full review]
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Blood and Steel: The Wehrmacht Archive: Normandy 1944, Donald E. Graves. A look at the German view of the fighting after D-Day, taken from the archives of the First Canadian Army, and mainly based on captured German documents. Gives an interesting view of an army under heavy pressure and the attitude of its soldiers, from the private soldier's diaries to the orders coming from high command. [read full review]
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Doctors in the Great War, Ian R Whitehead. A serious study of the role of the Royal Army Medical Corps and the British medical profession during the First World War, looking at how the small pre-war RAMC expanded to include over half of all British doctors. Looks at a wide range of topics, from the structure of the RAMC to the way it dealt with the new problems thrown up by the fighting on the Western Front and the challenges to medical ethics posed by a mass military. [read full review]
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28 April 2015

World War II Tactical Camouflage Techniques, Gordon L. Rottman . This is a fascinating little on a subject which impacted on all armies involved in the conflict, focusing on European and the Med war zones (so no Japanese or jungle patterns) It’s a surprisingly interesting read and a great resource for war gamers , model makers and reenactors. Chapters include principles, materials used, individual and vehicle camo and how gun positions were camouflaged . It looks at what worked well and what methods didn’t and those which made things worse!  There are some fascinating sections on the techniques such as the use of light and shadow, using natural materials and the difference between cover and concealment.  As you would expect from an Osprey book it is lavishly illustrated with colour illustrations by the superb Peter Dennis and filled with period black and white photos which really bring the subject to life. [read full review]
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Over the Wire - A Pow's Escape Story from the Second World War, Philip Newman . An excellent account of a military doctor's experiences before the evacuation from Dunkirk, time in German captivity, escape from the camp and most valuably his escape to safety from occupied France. Highly recommended for its view of the entire process from camp to safety. [read full review]
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The Rise of the Seleukid Empire 323-223 BC, John D Grainger . Looks at the rise and first fall of the Seleucid Empire, the largest successor state to emerge from the collapse of Alexander the Great's Empire. Starts with the rise of the Empire under the impressive Seleucus I and ends with the accession of Antiochus III, the subject of volume two in the series. [read full review]
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20 April 2015

The Peninsular War Atlas, Colonel Nick Lipscombe. A very impressive achievement, covering the entire Peninsula War from the first French invasion of Portugal to the final campaigns in France, and looking at just about every aspect of the war, not just the familiar campaigns of Wellington. Excellent maps, marred only by the lack of contrast between the colours chosen for Spanish and French units. [read full review]
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Smolensk under the Nazis: Everyday Life in Occupied Russia, Laurie R. Cohen. A study of the experiences of the citizens of Smolensk, based on a series of interviews with five eyewitnesses to the occupation. A fascinating insight into both everyday life under the Germans and the impact of German atrocities and occupation policies on the people of Smolensk. A very serious and valuable study of a very serious topic. [read full review]
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Snafu: Sailor, Airman and Soldier Slang of World War II, Gordon L. Rottman. Focuses on navy and air force slang, with some army slang not covered in an earlier volume, covering the British, American and German forces. Gives a really interesting insight into the sort of things that concerned the fighting men on both sides of the conflict. [read full review]
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9 April 2015

Heavy Cruisers of the Admiral Hipper Class, Gerhard Koop and Klaus-Peter SchmolkeHeavy Cruisers of the Admiral Hipper Class, Gerhard Koop and Klaus-Peter Schmolke. Looks at the three heavy cruisers that served with the German Navy during the Second World War, and the two members of the class that were never completed. Includes development histories, service histories and an impressive collection of photographs and plans. [read full review]
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Tank Tracks to Rangoon - the story of British armour in Burma, Bryan PerrettTank Tracks to Rangoon - the story of British armour in Burma, Bryan Perrett. Interesting history of an unfamiliar aspect of the Burma campaign, looking at the massive effort that went into making the tank an effective weapon in some of the most difficult terrain in the world. Covers the entire campaign from the longest retreat in British military history to the eventual rapid advance on Rangoon. [read full review]
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The Wooden Horse, Eric WilliamThe Wooden Horse, Eric Williams. One of the classic prisoner-of-war tales, told in a semi-fictionalised account to bypass wartime secrecy laws. The escape itself, using a wooden horse to hide the entrance to a tunnel, takes up the first part of the book, and is followed by a fascinating section on the escape from occupied Europe into neutral Sweden, achieved with a great deal of help from conscripted French workers and Danish sailors. [read full review]
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30 March 2015

Battleships of the Scharnhorst Class, Gerhard Koop and Klaus-Peter Schmolke. Looks at the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, the first interwar German battleships to ignore most naval treaty restrictions, and the most active of the German battleships of the Second World War. An excellent history of these two ships that pulls no punches about the flaws in their designs. [read full review]
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Broke of the Shannon and the War of 1812, ed. Tim Voelcker. Looks at a wide range of topics related to the battle between the Shannon and the Chesapeake, a naval clash that ended the early string of American victories and restored damaged morale in Britain. Looks at the battle itself, the background to the war, and the long term impact of both the battle and the conflict. [read full review]
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Sulla - A Dictator Reconsidered, Lynda Telford. An interesting but very biased biography of the Roman leader Sulla, the first to lead his own army against the city of Rome. Not idea for someone new to the topic, who would come away with a very one sided view of the period, but will be of interest to someone with more background knowledge. [read full review]
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20 March 2015

England's Medieval Navy 1066-1509: Ships, Men & Warfare, Susan Rose. An excellent detailed examination of the early days of English naval power, the period before the establishment of a permanent Royal Navy, when most warships were impressed merchant ships taken over for the duration of a campaign.  Excellent material on the men, their ships, skills, weapons and the battles they fought. [read full review]
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American Tanks and AFVs of World War II, Michael Green. An excellent look at the development of American armoured vehicles in the inter-war period and during the Second World War, linking the individual vehicles to US army doctrine to produce a valuable picture of what was produced and just as importantly why, and how well the equipment that entered service actually performed. [read full review]
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Aces of the Reich - The Making of a Luftwaffe Fighter-Pilot, Mike Spick. A half-way house between a history of the Luftwaffe and a convention 'aces' book, starting with an examination of the history, commanders and aircraft of the Luftwaffe before moving on to a combat history that traces the contribution of the experten and finished with a series of potted biographies of a variety of different 'types'. [read full review]
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11 March 2015

Images of War: The Central Powers on the Russian Front 1914-1918, David Bilton. A year by year look at the experience of German and Austro-Hungarian troops fighting on the Eastern Front, a more fluid environment than the Western Front and a campaign that ended with a German victory and the exhaustion of the Austro-Hungarians. [read full review]
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In the Mind's Eye - The Blinded Veterans of St Dunstan's, David Castleton. A history of a charity formed to help the blinded servicemen of the First World War and that went on to help develop a much more positive attitude to the blind across society by developing ways to allow the veterans to live increasingly independent lives. [read full review]
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The Bofors Gun, Terry Gander. Looks at the long history of the Bofors guns, most famous as a naval anti-aircraft gun of the Second World War, but that is still be produced in new version today, eighty years after it was first designed. Looks at all of the producers and users of the gun and the many versions that have been developed. A very useful reference work. [read full review]
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25 February 2015

Hitler's Alpine Headquarters, James Wilson. Fascinating reproductions of German postcards marred by a rather annoying text that is far too impressed with the Nazis and their 'achievements' in the Obersalzberg and Berchtesgaden areas. If the text is taken as an example of the sort of propaganda that the German people were subjected at the time then the postcards themselves can be appreciated for their historical value. [read full review]
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Sailor in the Desert: The Adventures of Phillip Gunn, DSM, RN in the Mesopotamia Campaign 1915, David Gunn. Follows the author's father through his experiences on one of the last sail and coal warships in the Royal Navy and onto ever smaller ships as he took part in the campaign in Mesopotamia that ended in disaster at Kut. [read full review]
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Machine Gunner 1914-1918: Personal Experiences of the Machine Gun Corps, C. E. Crutchley. Contains a series of first hand accounts of service in the Machine Gun Corps during the First World War, a short-lived military formation that played an increasingly major part in the fighting as the war went on. [read full review]
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11 February 2015

Stalingrad Battle Atlas Volume 1 (13 September-13 October 1942), Anton Joly. Detailed maps, orders of battles and combat strengths for the first part of the Battle of Stalingrad, from the first fighting in the suburbs to the eve of the biggest German attack of the battle. A very well researched book that will be of great value to anyone studying this battle. [read full review]
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Stalingrad Battle Atlas Volume 2 (14 October-18 November 1942), Anton Joly. Detailed maps, orders of battles and combat strengths for the second part of the Battle of Stalingrad, from the largest German attack of the battle to the start of the great Soviet counterattack that trapped the Germans. A very well researched book that will be of great value to anyone studying this battle. [read full review]
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Images of War: Twin Mustang - the North American F-82 at War, Alan C. Carey. A photographic history of the unusual Twin Mustang, the last piston engined fighter to be purchased in large numbers by the US Air Force and a short-lived aircraft that saw limited combat during the Korean War, scoring the first UN aerial victory of the war. [read full review]
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4 February 2015

Captured at Arnhem - From Railwayman to Paratrooper, Norman Hicks. Fascinating account of the life of a railwayman and paratrooper, who fought in Tunisia and on Sicily before being captured at Arnhem. Includes a rare account of the experiences of lower ranked POWs, who were used for hard labour in Germany, in this case down a Lead Mine. [read full review]
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A Chronology of World War II, David Jordan. An introduction to the Second World War with a narrative account of the fighting supported by two timelines, one for the war against German and one for the war against Japan. Good, but could have done with a combined timeline rather than the two split ones. [read full review]
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In the Teeth of the Wind: Memoirs of the Royal Naval Air Service in the First World War, Squadron Leader C P O Bartlett DSC.. Very different to the more familiar RFC memoirs, this traces the wartime experiences of a RNAS bomber pilot, mainly operating near the Channel coast, taking part in the first sustained bombing campaign in military history [read full review]
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28 January 2015

In the Steps of the Black Prince - The Road to Poitiers, 1355-1356, Peter Hoskins. A fascinating attempt to trace the exact route of the Black Prince's raids through France in 1355 and 1356, based on a detailed exploration of the ground and the possible routes, and the linguistic changes in local names. This route evidence is then used to interpret the Prince's motives in both of these raids. [read full review]
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Great Military Blunders, Bill Lucas. An introduction to some of histories most disastrous military defeats, looking at the mistakes that led to defeat (or in one case to a less impressive victory than should have been achieved). Covers quite a lot of ground in 64 pages, so provides more of an overview than a detailed examination of the defeats. [read full review]
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Festung Guernsey - Fortress Guernsey: The fortifications of Guernsey - East Coast - St Martins Point to St Sampsons. A reproduction of the wartime German handbook to the fortifications of Guernsey, looking at the urban defences in St Peter's Port. A very valuable historical source, providing detailed info on what defences were present, how they were manned and what each element of the defences was expected to do. [read full review]
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Festung Guernsey - Fortress Guernsey: The fortifications of Guernsey - West and South Coasts - Rocquaine to Corbiere. A reproduction of the wartime German handbook to the fortifications of Guernsey, looking at a largely rural part of the west and south coasts. A very valuable historical source, providing detailed info on what defences were present, how they were manned and what each element of the defences was expected to do. [read full review]
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21 January 2015

Attack on Pearl Harbor - Strategy, Combat, Myths, Deceptions, Alan D. Zimm. A very detailed look at the Japanese plan for the attack on Pearl Harbor and its implementation, challenging the idea that the attack was brilliantly planned and executed, and convincingly arguing that luck played a major part in the Japanese success on the day. [read full review]
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Unsung Eagles - True Stories of America's Citizen Airmen in the Skies of World War II, Lt. Col (Ret) Jay A. Scout. A series of short biographies of twenty two US airmen of the Second World War, largely in their own words, covering a very wide range of topics from US-bases training to operations in China, Europe, North Africa and the Pacific. [read full review]
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The Tigers of Bastogne: Voices of the 10th Armored Division in the Battle of the Bulge, Michael Collins and Martin King. Looks at the crucial contribution made to the defence of Bastogne by the 10th Armored Division, the first US unit to arrive in the city, and solely responsible for holding it until reinforcements arrived to share the burden. [read full review]
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15 January 2015

Looking Down on War - the Normandy Invasion June 1944, Colonel Roy M. Stanley II. A fascinating collection of aerial photographs of the D-Day landings, with commentary by a professional photo interpreter. Pictures you won't have seen before, with an expert interpreter to point out aspect of them that I would have missed. [read full review]
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The Rise of Imperial Rome AD 14-193, Duncan B. Campbell. Looks at the long series of border wars that saw the Roman Empire continue to expand during the two centuries after the death of Augustus. Traditionally seen as the period of the 'Pax Romana', this book demonstrates that this was actually a period of near continuous warfare. [read full review]
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Fight for the Sea - Naval Adventures from the Second World War, John Frayn Turner. A series of interesting snapshots of the war at sea from the British and American point of view, covering many of the major battles of the war as well as a number of less familiar topics. [read full review]
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6 January 2015

Medieval Warfare Vol III Issue 6: Myths and Legends in the Medieval World. Looks at the figures who gave rise to legends and how those legends differed from reality, covering heroes ranging from Theoderic the Great to the mysterious Prester John. The choice of heroes and how their exploits were altered tells us much about the attitudes of the societies involved. [read full review]
Medieval Warfare Vol IV Issue 2: Queens and Valkyries Women as warriorsl. Focuses on a number of very different examples of female warriors in the Medieval period from the familiar Joan of Arc to almost legendary Viking warriors. Demonstrates that gender roles in the Middle Ages weren't quite a rigidly defined as we sometimes think. [read full review]
Medieval Warfare Vol IV Issue 4: Downfall of the Bold: The Burgundian Wars. Focuses on the unsuccessful military career of Charles the Bold, duke of Burgundy, a warlike leader more famous for his willingness to fight rather than for his successes in battle. Instead he became best known for his defeat and death at the hands of the Swiss pikemen, who earned a reputation that lasted into the sixteenth century. [read full review]

2 January 2015

Images of War: Armoured Warfare in the North African Campaign, Anthony Tucker-Jones. Covers the entire period from the early Anglo-Italian clashes through the famous battles with Rommel and on to Operation Torch and the Tunisian campaign. Some unusual pictures, supported by informative captions. [read full review]
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Grey Wolves - The U-boat War 1939-1945, Philip Kaplan. A thematic approach to the U-boat war, looking at elements such as the crews, captains, protected shelters, individual aspects of the U-boat campaign itself, their weapons and their opponents. Provides some interesting insights into the Battle of the Atlantic, although is best used along a more conventional history of the Battle of the Atlantic. [read full review]
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Beyond the Reach of Empire, Colonel Mike Snook. A very impressive examination of Wolseley's attempt to save Gordon, besieged at Khartoum, one of the most famous British military failures of the Victorian era. Snook pulls no punches in his analysis of the reasons for this failure, but also provides more than enough detail for the reader to make their own mind up about his conclusions. [read full review]
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