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

22 December 2016

Imperial Chinese Armies, 1840-1911, Philip S. Jowett. Looks at a period of somewhat chaotic and ultimately unsuccessful reform in the Chinese armies, which still saw a dramatic transformation from armies that would have been familiar to the original Manchu emperors to a recognisably modern, if somewhat chaotic army. As a result the book covers an unusually wide range of troop types, from bowmen to machine gunners! You'll probably struggle to find an Osprey that covers as much change and variety in such a short period [read full review]
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In Hospital and in Camp - The Civil War through the eyes of its Doctors and Nurses, Harold Elk Straubing. A selection of ten accounts of the medical services during the American Civil War, produced by a mix of doctors and nurses, mainly from the Union side. Includes diaries, letters and narrative accounts, and ends with some of Walt Whitmann's poems. Varies in tone from gruesome medical detail to Victorian sentimentality. [read full review]
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Hitler's Swedes, A History of the Swedish Volunteers in the Waffen-SS, Lars T. Larsson. A detailed study of the motives and experiences of the comparatively small number of Swedes who volunteered for service with the Waffen SS during the Second World War, a group of just under 200 men, most of whom ended up fighting on the Eastern Front. Covers the stories of 144 of them in some detail, providing both a snapshot of the experiences of the SS on the Eastern Front, and an insight into why anyone from a safely neutral country would volunteer for the SS [read full review]
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13 December 2016

Death of an Empire - The Rise and Murderous Fall of Salem, America's Richest City, Robert Booth. Looks at the decline and fall of the wealthy merchant port of Salem, a city that became rich through International Trade, in particular during the long Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, but then like other American ports suffered from the self inflicted wounds of the War of 1812 and the tariffs that followed, before eventually murder and scandal finished off the ports decline. Not directly military history, but a fascinating story, and one that is related to the events of the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812 [read full review]
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Victoria Crosses on the Western Front: August 1914 - April 1915, Mons to Hill 60, Paul Oldfield. Covers those VCs won between the outbreak of the First World War and April 1915, using an unusual (and very successful) format, with a narrative of the combat operations involved filling the first half of the book and individual biographies of the VC winners in the second half. Covers the first 59 Victoria Crosses to be won on the Western Front, so is able to include far more detail than in more general books [read full review]
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Fall of the Double Eagle - The Battle for Galicia and the Demise of Austria-Hungary, John R. Schindler. Looks at the opening clashes between Russia and Austria-Hungary on the Eastern Front of the First World War, some of the biggest battles of 1914, and a series of defeats that played a major part in the decline and fall of the Hapsburg Empire, destroying the pre-war Regular army that had been one of the strongest props of the Hapsburg realm and giving the Russians a rare clear-cut victory [read full review]
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6 December 2016

No Room for Mistakes - British and Allied Submarine Warfare 1939-1940, Geirr H Haarr. An excellent detailed history of Allied submarine warfare during the first sixteen months of the Second World War, a period of dramatic changes in the situation at sea, in which the British submarine service had to find a suitable role and absorb heavy losses, while coping with the Norwegian campaign and the sudden expansion of their duties after the Fall of France. [read full review]
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VCs of the North - Cumbria, Durham and Northumberland, Alan Whitworth. Looks at just under fifty winners of the Victoria Cross associated with the northern counties of Cumbria, Durham and Northumberland, covering the entire history of the award. The small number of recipients covered allows the author to include a great deal more background information than is normally the case in books on the V.C., allowing us to trace the impact of winning the V.C. on its recipients. Also allows the inclusion of many eyewitness accounts of the deeds themselves [read full review]
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Rome Spreads Her Wings - Territorial Expansion between the Punic Wars, Gareth C. Sampson. Focuses on Rome's other wars in the period of the first two Punic Wars, including the first expansion east across the Adriatic into Greece and the Balkans and the conquest of Gallic northern Italy. This is a difficult period, with limited sources as ancient authors either concentrated on the more glamorous wars against Carthage, or have been lost to us. Sampson does a good job of guiding us through the difficult sources for this period, often providing alternative versions of key events, complete with their supporting sources. A useful book that helps fill a gap in the military history of Rome [read full review]
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29 November 2016

The Sailing Frigate - A History in Ship Models, Robert Gardiner. A splendid visual history of the British frigate, based around the collection of scale ship models in the National Maritime Museum. Each change in design is illustrated by a high quality colour photograph of a model, with some key pictures included detailed annotations picking out key features. Also includes a number of special subject spreads, looking at the evolution of features such as bow or stern design. A splendid book, and a very good way of illustrating the development of the sailing frigate [read full review]
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Triumph & Disasters - Eyewitness Accounts of the Netherlands Campaign 1813-1814, Andrew Bamford. Six eyewitness accounts of the British campaign in the Netherlands in 1813-1814, best known for the disastrous attack on Bergen-op-Zoom. The fairly vacuous diary of a young Guards officer will probably stick longest in the mind, but all six sources are of value for gaining an understanding of this campaign, and of the British military experience during the Napoleonic Wars, covering a wide range of topics from the pleasures of the hunt to the humiliation of being a prisoner [read full review]
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Roman Military Disasters - Dark Days and Lost Legions, Paul Chrystal. Looks at Rome's military defeats, from the earliest wars within the Italian peninsula, through the great wars of expansion and the defence of the Empire, to the disasters of the fifth century and the first two sacks of Rome since the Celts almost at the start of Roman history. A useful book, although it does sometimes lose its focus a little, and in sections is more of a general military history of Rome [read full review]
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22 November 2016

The Grand Old Duke of York - A Life of Frederick, Duke of York and Albany, 1763-1827, Derek Winterbottom . The first biography of the British Commander-in-Chief during the Napoleonic Wars for sixty years, this paints a generally positive picture of the Duke, who emerges as a capable Commander-in-Chief who introduced a series of useful reforms in the British Army, and probably helped keep the army loyal during the long Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Good coverage of his period as a field commander in the Low Countries, and his fairly colourful private life [read full review]
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Military History of Late Rome 284-361, Ilkka Syvänne. Focuses on the successful Imperial recovery under Diocletian, Constantine the Great, Constantius II and their various co-rulers and rivals. Starts with a series of lengthy chapters looking at the Empire, its army and its neighbours, before moving onto the narrative account of a period in which the Roman Empire held its own against enemies that threatened from all sides, despite an apparently constant stream of civil wars [read full review]
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The Nisibis War - The Defence of the Roman East AD 337-363, John S. Harrel . Looks at the lengthy conflict between the Romans and the Persian Emperor Shapur II, for possession of provinces lost to the Romans in 298. Covers the successful defensive strategy of Constantius II and the disastrous invasion of Persia led by the Emperor Julian, as well as the frequent civil wars that plagued the Roman Empire. A valuable look at one of the last major external wars fought before the fall of the Western Empire. [read full review]
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10 November 2016

Medieval Warfare Vol VI, Issue 4: The Norman Invasion of Ireland - Contesting the Emerald IsleMedieval Warfare Vol VI, Issue 4: The Norman Invasion of Ireland - Contesting the Emerald Isle Focuses on the 12th century Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland, a fateful step that began with the English invited into Ireland by a defeated king of Leinster but that led to a direct royal intervention by Henry II. Includes interesting material on the Irish military system of the period, as well as the invasion itself, one of our main sources, and the fortifications built by the Normans. Also looks at the much earlier Irish ringworks and other fortifications, the Book of Kells and the value and pitfalls of battlefield archaeology.. [see more]
Ancient Warfare Vol X, Issue 2: Wars in Hellenistic Egypt, kingdom of the PtolemiesAncient Warfare Vol X, Issue 2: Wars in Hellenistic Egypt, kingdom of the Ptolemies Focuses on Ptolemaic Egypt, the most successful and long-lived of the successor kingdoms to the empire of Alexander the Great. Includes interesting articles on Julius Caesar's period of urban warfare in Alexandria, the massive warships of the Ptolemaic navy, and away from the theme on the value of 'Barbarian' troops to the Late Roman Empire. Nice to have a focus on Ptolemaic Egypt in its own right, rather than as part of someone else's story.. [see more]
Medieval Warfare Vol VI, Issue 6: A Scourge from the Steppes - The Mongol invasion of EuropeMedieval Warfare Vol V, Issue 6: A Scourge from the Steppes - The Mongol invasion of EuropeFocuses on the destructive impact of the Mongols, looking at their invasions of Poland and Russia, their weapons and armour, the family of Genghis Khan, and the first Christian mission to reach the Mongol court at Karakorum. Away from the main theme covers Scandinavian honour systems, the Merovingian armies and the practical impact of Vegetius in the Middle Ages.   [see more]

4 November 2016

Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army from Kursk to Berlin: Vol 1: January 1943-June 1944, Igor Nebolsin. Excellent reference work covering the first eighteen months of the combat career of the 2nd Tank Army, one of the elite formations within the Red Army. Follows the army from its difficult combat debut in the winter offensive of 1942-43, through the Battle of Kursk and onto the victorious Soviet offensives that eventually saw the Army push west across the Soviet border. The first book of this type that I've seen for a Soviet combat unit, and of great value for that, as well as for the massive amount of information that is packed into the text. [read full review]
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Daring Raids of World War Two - Heroic Land, Sea & Air Attacks, Peter Jacobs. Covers an unexpectedly wide range of topics, including the sort of Special Forces raid that I was expected, but also including air raids and specific parts of larger operations, such as the disaster at Dieppe or the sinking of the Bismarck. Covers thirty raids, including a good mix of the familiar and the almost unknown, and provides a good cross section of the smaller scale British operations of the Second World War. [read full review]
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Paris '44 - The City of Light Redeemed, William Mortimer-Moore. Covers both the Resistance uprising within Paris and the military campaign to liberate the city, focusing on the role of the French 2e DB (armoured division), the Free French unit that liberated the centre of Paris. A moving account of the various strands that led to the comparatively painless liberation of Paris, a city that avoided the devastation ordered by Hitler. An excellent study of one of the more remarkable incidents of the liberation of France [read full review]
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28 October 2016

The C.S.S. Albemarle and William Cushing: The Remarkable Confederate Ironclad and the Union Officer Who Sank It, Jim Stempel. Follows the twin stories of the construction and service of the Confederate Ironclad ram Albemarle and the life of impressive young Naval officer who sank her. Follows both stories from start to finish, covering them in parallel, so events on shore as the ship is being built are lined up with Cushing's developing career, before the two come together in the daring raid that sank the Albemarle and the escape that followed [read full review]
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A Moonlight Massacre, Michael Locicero. A detailed history of a little known night attack that came after the official end of the Third Battle of Ypres, and that was intended to improve the British position on the northern edge of Passchendaele Ridge. Demonstrates the problems that could be caused by poor communications and the confusion of a night time attack, even in the increasingly expert British army of 1917, while also examining the real end of the British offensive action at Ypres in 1917 [read full review]
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The Horns of the Beast - The Swakop River Campaign and World War I in South-West Africa 1914-15, James Stejskal. Focuses on the successful South African invasion of German South-West Africa, a brief campaign that rarely gets more than a paragraph or two in histories of the First World War. This book focuses on one part of that campaign, the successful advance up the Swakop River which led to the defeat of the main German army in the area and the eventual surrender of the entire colony. Often neglected, this was an important victory for the South Africans, and helped unite the colony at the start of the Great War [read full review]
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19 October 2016

War Cruel and Sharp: English Strategy under Edward III, Clifford J. Rogers. Looks at the first phase of the Wars of the Roses, to the Peace of Bretigny of 1360, and argues that Edward III's victory was due to a deliberate strategy of seeking battle. Makes a very well argued case, supported by a detailed knowledge of the primary sources, built around a narrative account of Edward's campaigns in Scotland, where he learnt his craft, and in France. [read full review]
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Wanton Troops - Buckinghamshire in the Civil Wars 1640-1660, Ian F.W. Beckett. Looks at the impact of the Civil Wars on a county that didn’t see any major battles or host any of the major garrisons, but was instead placed between them, suffering from raids, garrisons and passing armies. Looks at County Community before, during and after the war, and the impact of the fighting on the local communities of Buckinghamshire to produce a useful cross section of the disruption caused by the Civil War [read full review]
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German U-Boat Losses During World War II, Axel Niestlé. An excellent well documented and credible summary of the current state of knowledge on U-Boat losses during the Second World War, reflecting the discoveries made in German archives and in underwater explanation in the sixty years since the original post-war assessments were made. Each change is supported by a clear explanation of why the original assessment is wrong, and the evidence for the new assessment [read full review]
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11 October 2016

The War of the Spanish Succession 1701-1714, James Falkner. An excellent new single volume history of this important conflict, covering all of the areas of conflict and the related diplomatic manoeuvres. Provides a clear example of a war in which outstanding military victories didn’t lead to the sort of political results that one might have expected, but one that still greatly reduced the power of France and set the tone for the series of wars that dominated the Eighteenth Century [read full review]
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Frontline Medic: Gallipoli, Somme, Ypres: The Diary of Captain George Pirie, R.A.M.C. 1914-17, Michael Lucas. Follows the experiences of a South African doctor from a Scottish family through some of the most notorious battles of the First World War, following Pirie in and out of the lines. An uncut diary that includes both dramatic accounts of major Allied attacks and rest time out of the trenches, as well as the day-to-day life in and around the trenches. Unedited after the war, this gives a contemporary day by day view of Pirie's view of the war. [read full review]
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Victory was Beyond Their Grasp, Douglas E. Nash. A history of the 272nd Volks-Grenadier Division, based around the company records of Fusilier Company 272, and tracing the unit from its formation, through the bitter fighting in the Hürtgen Forest, and on to the brief defence of the Rhine and the final chaotic retreat into the heart of Germany. An excellent history of a division that suffered a huge number of casualties, with the Fusilier Company alone suffered over 200% casualties [read full review]
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27 September 2016

Barbarossa Derailed: The Battle for Smolensk 10 July-10 September 1941: Vol 2: The German Advance on the Flanks and the Third Soviet Counteroffensive, 25 August-10 September 1941, David M. Glantz. Makes the case that the repeated Soviet counterattacks around Smolensk played a major part in shaping German strategy in 1941, proving that the Red Army would put up more resistance than expected, and diverting German attention away from Moscow and onto their flanks, where they would win a spectacular victory around Kiev. This volume focuses on the third Soviet counterattack and Guderian's move south towards Kiev. Heavily supported by documents, Glantz makes a very convincing case. [read full review]
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Barbarossa Derailed: The Battle for Smolensk 10 July-10 September 1941: Vol3 : The Documentary Companion. Tables, Orders and Reports prepared by participating Red Army forces, David M. Glantz . Contains the supporting evidence to go with the first two narrative volumes in this series. Organised largely to match the chapters in the first two volumes, the aim to allow the reader to confirm Glantz's conclusions. This volume will be of fairly limited appeal, but it will be of great value for the serious student of the fighting on the Eastern Front [read full review]
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The Fall of the Seleukid Empire, 187-75 BC, John D. Grainger. Looks at the last century of the Seleukid Empire, a period of near constant decline, repeated civil wars and family disputes that eventually saw this powerful empire dwindle away and disappear. A good, convincing narrative produced from a limited number of available sources, following the decline of what was once the largest of the successor states to Alexander the Great [read full review]
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12 September 2016

Murderous Elite: The Waffen-SS and its complete record of war crimes, James Pontolillo . A very valuable study of the many crimes committed by almost every unit of the Waffen-SS, demonstrating that the original 'classic' German units were by far the worst offenders, and that the Waffen-SS committed war crimes in every theatre of the war, and in every year of the conflict. Finishes with an examination of the reasons for these crimes and the various excuses used by various apologists and deniers. [read full review]
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Death of the Leaping Horseman: The 24th Panzer Division in Stalingrad, Jason D. Marks. A day by day history of the 24th Panzer Division taking it from the approaches to Stalingrad to the day that the Russian offensive that trapped the Germans in the city began. Rather too one sided, but does go a good job of tracing the first part of the destruction of this unit. A shame that it finishes before the battle is completely over [read full review]
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The Seeds of Disaster: The Development of French Army Doctrine, 1919-39, Robert A. Doughty. Looks at the problems faced by the French army between the wars, the doctrine of the methodical battle that was developed in an attempt to solve those problems, the structure of the French high command, and the debate over the correct use of tanks. A surprisingly interesting book that looks at the perfectly understandable reasons why the French army adopted the plans that led to disaster in 1940. [read full review]
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29 August 2016

Get Tough Stay Tough: Shaping the Canadian Corps, 1914-1918, Kenneth Radley. Uses the Canadian Army Corps of the First World War to examine the nature of morale and discipline and the role they played in producing a successful army. The author has produced a well argued case, supported by a detailed knowledge of his topic. Does have some infuriating moments, but despite that is a valuable, well researched and useful examination of the way in which the Canadian Corps, and by extension most of the British army, operated during the First World War.  [read full review]
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The Ardennes 1944-1945 Hitler's Winter Offensive, Christer Bergström. A splendid account of the Ardennes Offensive, covering the entire battle, from the impressive German planning, the surprise attack and the costly battle of attrition that followed, up to the final end of the campaign at the start of February 1945. Combines detailed accounts of individual battles for villages, with regular overviews of the entire campaign, to produce a rare example of a really large scale account of a campaign that also produces a clear picture of how these details fit into the wider picture [read full review]
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Battle of the Bulge: Volume Three: The 3rd Fallschirmjäger Division in Action, December 1944-January 1945, Hans Wijers. Focuses on the battles of a single German division and their opponents on the northern flank of the Battle of the Bulge, where the Germans made the least progress. Could do with a bit more background, and at least a basic map, but will still be of value to those with an interest in this massive battle [read full review]
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22 August 2016

MI5 at War 1909-1918: How MI5 Foiled the Spies of the Kaiser in the First World War, Chris Northcott. A sober look at the performance of MI5 between its formation in 1908 and the end of the First World War, focusing as much on the internal structure of MI5, and the laws that allowed it to operate as on its activities and individual cases. This helps explain how MI5 achieved its successes, and also what sort of threats they believed they faced. [read full review]
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Artillery Scout: The Story of a Forward Observer with the U.S. Field Artillery in World War I, James G. Bilder. Tells the story of the author's grandfather, who served with American Expeditionary Force during the First World War, and took part in the battle of St. Mihiel and the Argonne offensive. Provides two unusual viewpoints for the Western Front for the British reader - that of a US soldier and that of an Artillery Scout, better known as a Forward Observer. [read full review]
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The Siege of Petersburg - The Battles for the Weldon Railroad, August 1864, John Horn. Focuses on Grant's fourth Petersburg offensive, the attempt to cut the Weldon Railroad south of the city, and at the same time prevent Lee moving troops to other theatres. Combines very detailed material on the three battles with an interesting examination of why the Union army performed so poorly in them, with an examination of the long term strategic results of the constant application of pressure at Petersburg. [read full review]
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16 August 2016

Battles of a Gunner Officer: Tunisia, Sicily, Normandy and the Long Road to Germany, John Philip Jones & Major Peter Pettit. The edited diaries of an officer in the Artillery, tracing his progress from Tunisia to northern Germany via Sicily, Normandy and north-western Europe. Demonstrates how dangerous life in the Artillery could be, with many of his colleagues killed in combat, as well as giving us a valuable picture of how the very efficient British artillery operated during the Second World War. [read full review]
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Montcalm's Crushing Blow - French and Indian Raids along New York's Oswego River 1756, René Chartrand. Looks at Montcalm's first campaign after arriving in Canada, the elimination of the British foothold on Lake Ontario. Covers two attacks - the destruction of Fort Bull on the vulnerable supply route to Oswego (before Montcalm's arrival), and Montcalm's impressive naval expedition and the resulting siege of Oswego. Includes plenty of valuable background information, as well as detailed accounts of the two brief sieges. [read full review]
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The Oder Front 1945 Vol 2: Documents, Reports and Personal Accounts, A. Stephan Hamilton. A volume of supporting material for volume one's account of the fighting, covering a very wide range of topics. Includes Hitler's official instructions for the Eastern Front, a large section of combat histories of every major unit involved in the fighting, and detailed accounts of each of the sieges of the German 'fortress cities' or Festung on the Oder Front. Supported by a sizable selection of documents on CD [read full review]
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9 August 2016

Mortars in World War II, John Norris. Looks at one of the most important infantry support weapons of the Second World War. Contains a great deal of material, looking at each area of conflict from Poland in 1939 to the final fighting in 1945, the way mortars were used by each army and the type of mortars in use. Suffers from a rather odd structure, which can make it a bit confusing on occasions, but still a useful book. [read full review]
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Leaders of the Storm Troops: Vol I, Michael D. Miller & Andreas Schulz. Looks at the senior leadership of the SA, covering the ten men who served as head of the organisation and the first half of the Obergruppenführers, the equivalent of lieutenant-generals within the organisation. Paints a picture of a very varied group, with members ranging from major war criminals to members of the German resistance. The first part of a very useful reference work on this key group within the Nazi hierarchy [read full review]
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Escape from the Japanese - The Amazing Story of a PoW's Journey from Hong Kong to Freedom, Lt. Cmdr Ralph Burton Goodwin. Compelling story of a rare successful escape from Japanese captivity, followed by a journey across war-torn China. The author was captured at the fall of Hong Kong. After two and a half years he escaped, and made his way across very difficult terrain into Chinese-held territory. We then trace his journey across wartime China, from the Communist held area around Hong Kong to the Nationalist capital at Kunming, so the fascinating escape story is followed by a very valuable insight into conditions within China. [read full review]
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29 July 2016

Helmand to the Himalayas - One Soldier's Inspiration Journey, David Wiseman. A two-part memoir, starting with the author's experiences in Afghanistan, where he took part in the British deployment to Helmand, where he was involved in the aftermath of a traumatic attack on British troops by bogus Afghan policemen, then moving on to his recovery from the physical and mental trauma the author suffered after being badly wounded in combat. This second section is the most valuable, with an unflinching account of the impact of post traumatic stress and an entertaining account of the Everest expedition that helped with the author's recovery [read full review]
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Flakhelfer to Grenadier - Memoir of a Boy Soldier, 1943-1945, Karl Heinz Schlesier. Follows a young German during his time serving on anti-aircraft batteries, first close to his home town and later defending a hidden factory, then through a short period of army training and an even shorter time on the front line as a grenadier, finishing with his time as a POW. A thought-provoking account of life at the receiving end of the Allied bombing campaign. [read full review]
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Wilderness and Spotsylvania 1864, Andy Nunez. Looks at two very different battles - the Wilderness, fought in dense woodland and notable for the confusion on both sides, and Spotsylvania, where Union forces made a series of attempts to storm strong Confederate field works. These were the battles where Grant began to come to grips with the abilities and limits of the Army of the Potomac, and in particular a command structure that included political appointees and officers appointed by a series of previous commanders of the army.  [read full review]
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20 July 2016

British Submarines at War 1914-1918, Edwyn Gray . Looks at the costly exploits of the young British submarine service during the First World War, including their daring exploits in the Sea of Marmora and the Baltic, as well as the costly routine of operations in the North Sea, where a constant stream of submarines were lost without the same chances for success. Focuses on the exploits of individual subs, but also covers their development and the debates on how they should best be use. [read full review]
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The Great War Through Picture Postcards, Guus de Vries. Looks at the vast numbers of postcards produced on every side during the Great War, covering an impressively wide range of topics, and giving us an idea of the sort of visual images that were being sent to and from the front lines and the messages that were being sent. Provides a much more colourful image of the First World War that is normal, with at least half of the cards having some colour in them. [read full review]
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German Infantry vs Soviet Rifleman, Barbarossa 1941, David Campbell. Looks at three clashes between German motorized infantry and Red Army infantry during the battles around Smolensk in 1941, early in the German invasion of the Soviet Union. All three ended as German victories, but the third reveals some of the problems that the Germans would face later in the war, as an outnumbered German unit came under heavy pressure. [read full review]
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8 July 2016

The Somme - The Epic Battle in the Soldier's own Words and Photograph, Richard van Emden. Covers the entire period that the British army spent on the original Somme front, from its arrival late in 1915, through the battle of the Somme and up to the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line. Mainly uses the writings and private photos taken by British soldiers, but also includes some material from the German side [read full review]
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Horses of the Great War - The Story in Art, John Fairley. A splendidly illustrated look at the portrayal of the horse in art during the First World War, a conflict in which Britain alone used around one million horses. Covers a wide range of topics, from the classic cavalry charge to the humble transport mule, and a wide variety of artistic styles from classic oils and watercolours to modernist works [read full review]
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Douglas Haig - As I Knew Him, George S. Duncan . A view of Douglas Haig as seen by his favourite chaplain during the First World War, George Duncan of the Church of Scotland. Splits into three - an introduction that explains how they met and looks at life at Haig's HQ, an examination of their relationship and Haig's behaviour at different stages of the war, and a look at Haig's character and religion. Produces a positive and convincing view of Haig the man and Haig the commander-in-chief, a reminder of the pressures that he was under, and a view of life at Haig's head quarters [read full review]
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1 July 2016

The First Day on the Somme (Revised Edition), Martin Middlebrook. A classic work that help found an entire genre of military history, combining a detailed history of the first day of the battle of the Somme with extensive extracts from eyewitness accounts of the fighting. The result is a truly excellent and moving account of the costly disaster of the First Day of the Somme, with a deserved reputation as a classic, and that hasn’t been out of print since 1971. [read full review]
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Somme 1916 - Success and Failure on the First Day of the Battle of the Somme, Paul Kendall. Traces the fate of each British division to take part in the disastrous attack on the first day of the Somme, moving from north to south, so from total failure to relative success. Allows the reader to see what elements the unsuccessful attacks had in common, as well as acknowledging the more successful fighting on the British right, close to the French lines [read full review]
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The Battle of the Somme, ed. Matthew Strohn. Looks at the wider issues that surround the battle, from its place in the British, French and German strategy for 1916 to the long term impact of the battle, as well as the development of tactics during the battle, and the long term impact of the Somme. A useful volume that gives equal weight to the British, French and German experiences of the Somme, and helps place the battle in its true context.  [read full review]
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23 June 2016

Medieval Warfare Vol IV Issue 5: Richard the Lionheart - Mediterranean adventures . Medieval Warfare Vol IV Issue 5: Richard the Lionheart - Mediterranean adventures . Focuses on the adventures of Richard the Lionheart in the Mediterranean, where he campaigned on Sicily and Cyprus before even reaching the Holy Land, then won long lasting fame during his struggle with Saladin. Also looks at arm armour, castles on Cyprus and the evidence for post traumatic stress in the medieval world. [see more]
Medieval Warfare Vol IV Issue 6: The Lombard Invasions: The Loss of Byzantine Italy .Medieval Warfare Vol IV Issue 6: The Lombard Invasions: The Loss of Byzantine Italy . Focuses on the Lombard invasion of Italy and the various failed Byzantine attempts to regain control of the country. Although earlier waves of invaders had been responsible for the collapse of the Western Empire, it was the Lombards who made that loss permanent, defeating a series of Byzantine expeditions to Italy and slowly capturing most of the remaining Byzantine positions across northern Italy.. [see more]
Medieval Warfare Vol VI, Issue 2: Two Kings Duelling - The War of the Sicilian Vespers . Medieval Warfare Vol VI, Issue 2: Two Kings Duelling - The War of the Sicilian Vespers . Focuses on one of the most important wars in the Mediterranean during the Middle Ages, a clash that helped undermine the political authority of the Holy Roman Emperors, and the moral authority of the Papacy, while also causing devastation in the formerly prosperous areas of southern Italy and Sicily. This was a very varied war, with naval battles, political crusades and even a potential duel between the two original claimants to Sicily. Also looks at the Anarchy, the battle of Shrewsbury and the Anglo-Scottish conflict.. [see more]

14 June 2016

Apache Warrior 1860-86, Robert N. Watt. An interesting look at the Chiricahua Apaches and their twenty five year long struggle against encroaching Americans and Mexicans, ending with the final surrender of Geronimo and Mangus in 1886. Looks at how the Apache trained for conflict, the distinction between war and raiding, and the risk avoidance that dominated Apache planning, supported by a good mix of successful and unsuccessful raids. [read full review]
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The Civil War: The Story of the War with Maps, M. David Detweiler. A useful historical atlas of the American Civil War, focusing on the overview across the entire campaign area, so we see Grant advancing while the fighting is bogged down in the east, or Sherman making progress while Grant is bogged down in the east. Also includes good clear battle maps, all accompanied by an engaging text. [read full review]
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Despatches from the Front: The Boer War 1899-1902, John Grehan and Martin Mace. A selection of official reports written during the Boer War, giving us a view of the war as seen by the senior British commanders. Most of these accounts are fairly factual, although few of the commanders are willing to accept the blame for their setbacks early in the war. Focuses on the major battles of the war, so is strongest on the first year or so, and less so on the period of guerilla warfare that came after the occupation of the Boer republics. [read full review]
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8 June 2016

Objectif Cherbourg 22-30 Juin 1944, Georges Bernage. A heavily illustrated but French language account of the battle for Cherbourg of late June 1944, the one of the first major US victories during the Normandy campaign. Well over half of the book is devoted to an excellent selection of photos and supporting maps, each with useful captions (at least as far as my limited French allows me to tell!). [read full review]
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The Normandy Battlefields D-Day and the Bridgehead, Leo Marriott & Simon Forty. A good photographic history of the Normandy invasion, with a good mix of well chosen contemporary and modern photographs of the battlefields. Focuses on the five D-Day beaches and the areas immediately behind them, so each area is covered in some detail. Includes a good set of modern aerial photographs with useful annotations showing key areas of the battlefield and war memorials. [read full review]
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The Battle of Marengo, 1800, Olivier Lapray. An account of the battle of Marango told largely from the French point of view, starting with northern Italy back in Austrian hands and tracing Napoleon's successful efforts to restore his earlier conquests. The main strength of this book is the excellent selection of pictures, covering Napoleon's dramatic crossing of the Alps, the advance into Italy, the two armies and the battle itself. [read full review]
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31 May 2016

A Biographical Dictionary of the Twentieth Century Royal Navy: Volume 1 Admirals of the Fleet and Admirals, Alastair Wilson . The start of a large project to produce a dictionary of 20th Century British Naval Biography, starting with Admirals and Admirals of the Fleet. Split into two, with the biographies in pdf form on CD and a printed volume to explain the format and contents of the biography. This is a very useful reference work in its own right – it'll certainly be of great use for me as I try and track down some of the more obscure wartime admirals – and the complete series will be a very impressive achievement.   [read full review]
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Watershed - Angola and Mozambique: A Photo-History - The Portuguese Collapse in Africa, 1974-75, Wilf Nussey. An excellent photographic history of the end of the Portuguese Empire in Africa, triggered by the overthrow of the Fascist regime back in Portugal. Based around the photos take by the Argus Africa News Service, supported by a text written by  the then head of the service. Follows a tragic tale of great but disappointed expectations after Independence was followed by prolonged civil wars in both countries. [read full review]
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On the Precipice: Stalin, the Red Army Leadership and the Road to Stalingrad 1931-42, Peter Mezhiritsky. An account of the road to Stalingrad loosely based around a discussion of Marshal Zhukov's memoirs, but focusing on Stalin's role in the catastrophes that almost overwhelmed the Soviet Union after the German invasion of 1941. Often conversational in tone, and with a tendency to indulge in flights of fantasy and speculation, this is still an entertaining read that provides an interesting point of view on this devastating period. [read full review]
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24 May 2016

Redeye - Fulda Cold, Bill Fortin. A novel largely set on the East-West German border during the Cold War, following the experiences of an American draftee during his two years of service in the late 1960s.  Feels far more like an autobiography than a novel, with a mix of historical and fictional figures, while the lead character is involved on the edge of a piece of Cold War military diplomacy. [read full review]
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The Rebel in Me - A ZANLA Guerrilla Commander in the Rhodesian Bosh War, 1975-1980, Agrippah Mutambara . Very much the insider's view of the Liberation struggle in Zimbabwe (with about half of the book looking at the Rhodesian attack on the ZANLA HQ at Chimoio), written by a key figure in the political side of the struggle who is still loyal to Mugabe. Fascinating material on the ZANLA struggle, just be aware that politically this is very one sided. [read full review]
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The Siege of LZ Kate, Arthur G. Sharp . Looks at the short but fierce North Vietnamese siege of a US firebase close to the Cambodia border, and the dramatic night time escape that saw the besieged US and allied soldiers escape from this trap. The siege only really lasted four days, so is covered in some detail, especially of the invaluable air support that kept the base supplied, evacuated the wounded and provided fire power to defend the isolated post against much larger attacking force. [read full review]
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12 May 2016

Moltke and His Generals: A Study in Leadership, Quintin Barry. Looks at the relationship between Helmuth von Moltke, Chief of the Prussian General Staff during the Wars of German Unification, and the generals he had to work with. Shows the skill with which he managed a very varied group of officers, of different levels of skill, independence and stubbornness. Also helps explain why the Prussian needed a system where professional staff officers worked alongside unit commanders, many of whom had aristocratic or royal backgrounds. [read full review]
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SS: Hitler's Foreign Divisions - Foreign Volunteers in the Waffen-SS, 1940-45, Chris Bishop. Looks at the surprisingly large number of foreign troops who fought with the SS during the Second World War, starting with a country-by-country examination of the motivation, scale and organisation of recruitment, and then turning to a unit by unit account of their often rather unimpressive combat record. Covers a mix of units, including a handful of high qualify front line divisions but far more vicious anti-partisan units with dreadful records and late war units thrown together as the Nazi empire crumbled. [read full review]
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Honourable Warriors: Fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, Richard Streatfield. Follows the experience of a company commander operating in Sangin in 2009-2010, during a period of intense active operations in which his unit slowly began to win control of the area away from the local Taliban, although at fairly heavy cost. Contains a detailed analysis of the correct way to operate in this sort of environment if there was to be any chance of long term success, and how that was implemented at company level. [read full review]
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3 May 2016

The Winter War, Eloise Engle and Lauri Paananen . A classic account of this early offshoot of the Second World War, written largely from the Finnish point of view (perhaps inevitably given the limited amount of reliable Soviet sources in the 1970s). Although more recent works exist, this is an excellent starting point and gives a good feel for the impact of the war on the Finns. [read full review]
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The Men Who Gave Us Wings: Britain and the Aeroplane 1796-1914, Peter Reese. An interesting account of the early days of flight in Britain, from the research into gliders, through various unsuccessful attempts at powered flights and into the post-Wright Brothers world, when the pioneers of the British aviation industry came to the fore, a group of remarkable men that included the Short brothers, A.V. Roe, Geoffrey de Havilland and Sir Thomas Sopwith. [read full review]
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Britain and Colonial Maritime War in the Early Eighteenth Century - Silver, Seapower and the Atlantic, Shinsuke Satsuma. A look at the political influences on British naval policy during the first half of the eighteenth century, a period in which Spain was still the main focus of naval warfare and Spanish silver still held sway in many imaginations. Focuses very much on the political scene in Britain, rather than the details of actual naval expeditions, although these are also covered. [read full review]
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28 April 2016

French Warships in the Age of Sail 1786-1861, Rif Winfield & Stephen S. Roberts . An impressive reference work covering the last major wars of the age of sail, the early years of steam power and the introduction of the Ironclad. Focuses on the design, construction and statistics of the warships, with a brief service history and a look at their fates (often to be captured by the Royal Navy in the earlier part of the book). [read full review]
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Marching to the Sound of Gunfire - North-West Europe 1944-1945, Patrick Delaforce . Contains hundreds of short first-hands accounts that illustrate aspects of the British Army's battles between D-Day and the end of the Second World War in Europe. Most useful if you are already familiar with the events being described, in which case it helps put the human face on these battles. Also includes a number of passages written by the author himself, who served as a junior officer during the campaign. [read full review]
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Dawn of the Horse Warriors - Chariot and Cavalry Warfare 3000-600BC, Duncan Noble. Looks at the history of chariot warfare in the pre-classical world, a period in which chariots were found across a vast area stretching from the edges of the Greek world south to Egypt and all the way to China. Written by an experimental archaeologist who has been involved with reconstructing chariots, and so combines a good use of the ancient sources with an understanding of what was actually possible. [read full review]
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19 April 2016

Ghosts of the ETO - American Tactical Deception Units in the European Theatre, 1944-1945, Jonathan Gawne. Mainly looks at the tactical deception unit committed to the fighting in north-western Europe in 1944-45, with a brief look at the second unit sent to Greece. Includes detailed accounts of each of their missions, with an analysis of the lessons learned and the possible impact on the Germans. [read full review]
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Bushmen Soldiers: The History of 31, 201 & 203 Battalions during the Border War 1974-90, Ian Uys. Looks at the history of two battalions of Bushmen soldiers who served with the South Africans during the Border War in Namibia/ South West Africa, after fleeing Angola at the end of Portuguese rule. Somewhat uneven in place, and in need of more background material, this is still an interesting account of a fascinating unit and its men. [read full review]
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Trail of Hope - The Anders Army, an Odyssey across Three Continents, Norman Davies. Looks at the epic journey of the Poles who formed the 'Anders Army', a journey that began with brutal exile inside the Soviet Union, the formation of Polish military units after the German attack on the Soviet Union, the move out of Russia and into British hands, the eventual commitment to combat in Poland and the crushing disappointment at the end of the war. [read full review]
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8 April 2016

Aircraft Wrecks The Walker's Guide - Historic Crash Sites on the Moors and Mountains of the British Islands, Nick Wotherspoon, Alan Clark & Mark Sheldon . Focuses on sites where there is still something to be found, mainly on areas with public access, spread out across the high ground of Britain and Ireland. Includes accounts of the causes of the crash, the fate of the crew and their passengers, descriptions of the location of the crash sites and what will be found on them. [read full review]
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Luftwaffe Mistel Composite Bomber Units, Robert Forsyth . Starts with a brief look at the pre-war origins of the idea of guiding one aircraft from another one mounted above it, before moving on to the German development of this into a potentially potent weapon, and finishing with a detailed account of the very limited impact the Mistel weapons actually had in combat (so typical of German wartime weapons programmes). [read full review]
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RHNS Averoff - Thunder in the Aegean, John Carr. An unusual ship history in that for most of her existence the Averoff had little military role, but was instead involved in the woeful series of military coups that so blighted Greece. The first half covers the main part of her active military career, and in particular the First Balkan War, the second the period when her officers and crew was more involved in politics than naval matters. [read full review]
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22 March 2016

US Standard Type Battleships 1941-45 (2): Tennessee, Colorado and Unbuilt Classes, Mark Stille. Looks at the 'Big Five', the last standard-type battleships built for the US Navy, and the most powerful ships in the US Navy for much of the interwar period. Covers their design, original purpose and actual Second World War service, where their limited speed meant they could no longer serve with the battle fleet. Despite that limit they played a major part in the Pacific War, and four fought in the last battleship action of the war. [read full review]
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Hong Kong 1941-45 - First strike in the Pacific War, Benjamin Lai. Looks at the eighteen day long battle of Hong Kong, a gallant but doomed British and Commonwealth attempt to defend the colony against a larger Japanese army with powerful air support. Also covers the Chinese resistance, the fate of the POWs and the eventual liberation of Hong Kong. A good history of one of the earliest battles of the Pacific War. [read full review]
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Soldier's Song and Slang of the Great War, Martin Pegler. Looks at slang, military terminology and phrases used by British and Empire forces on the Western Front, and the songs popular at home and on the front. Includes more 'earthy' phrases than earlier books on the same topic, and provides a valuable insight into the daily concerns of soldiers in the trenches. A surprising amount of these phrases are still in common usage. [read full review]
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16 March 2016

German Artillery 1914-1918, Wolfgang Fleischer. Covers over 100 guns used by the German Army and shore detachments of the Navy during the First World War, a conflict largely dominated by artillery. Each one gets a brief description, a set of technical stats and a good picture. Shows the wide range of gun types and sizes used by the Germans during the First World War, and the way in which they evolved to deal with the unexpected challenges of trench warfare. [read full review]
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The Battle of Britain, Adam Powley. A good introduction to the topic, covering a wide range of topics than many short books on the Battle of Britain, including good material on the impact of the Blitz and earlier daylight raids on London, and the successes of the German attacks on the coastal airfields during the most dangerous period of the battle. [read full review]
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Jagdtiger: Design, Production, Operations, Christopher Meadows. A detailed study of the heaviest and best armed armoured vehicle of the Second World War, the 12.8cm armed Jagdtiger, tracing its development from the original specification to the eventual vehicle, the production difficulties, and its complete combat career, which didn’t begin until January 1945 and only involved two units. [read full review]
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3 March 2016

Storming the City - U.S. Military Performance in Urban Warfare from World War II to Vietnam, Alec Wahlman . Looks at four city battles - Aachen in 1944, Manila in 1945, Seoul in 1950 and Hue in 1968 to see how the US military coped - what plans it had in place for urban warfare, how effective they were, and how things changed over time. A useful volume that analyses a key aspect of military operations across four rather different battlefields. [read full review]
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Pylos and Sphacteria 425 BC, William Shepherd . Looks at one of the most significant Athenian victories of the Great Peloponnesian War, most notable for the unexpected surrender of a large number of full Spartiates. Covers the overall campaign, the Spartan attack on the Athenian camp on Pylos, the naval battle that isolated a force of Spartans on the island of Sphacteria and the amphibious assault that forced them to surrender. All supported by excellent photos of the local area, which really help set the scene [read full review]
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Before the Ironclad - Warship Design and Development 1815-1860, David K Brown . Looks at the final half century of wooden warships, from the end of the Napoleonic Wars to the appearance of the first major ironclad ships, a period of constant technological progress. Although the Royal Navy has gained a reputation for being a conservative organisation during this period, this book proves that it was always willing to experiment with new ideas, just not interested in triggering an expensive arms race. [read full review]
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22 February 2016

Images of War: RAF Fighter Pilots over Burma, Norman Franks. Focuses very much on the pilots, with most pictures showing pilots on the ground, in their cockpits or even in the bath. Supported by excellent captions that trace the careers of the pilots and useful chapter introductions that set the scene. Also includes useful pictures of RAF airfields and a good selection of aircraft on the ground, but will be of most value for the collection of pictures of pilots. [read full review]
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German Heavy Artillery Guns 1933-1945, Alexander Lüdeke. Despite the title actually covers light, medium and heavy artillery as well as mortars and anti-tank guns (excludes railway guns, flak and rocket launchers). Each gets a useful write-up, supported by stats and at least one photo. Covers German-built guns and the many types captured and used by the Wehrmacht. [read full review]
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D-Day and the Normandy Invasion, Adam Powley. Covers the pre-invasion planning, the D-Day landings, the battle of Normandy, the break-out and the fighting in the Falaise pocket. A good narrative, broken up by chapters on special topics, and supported by some excellent photos. A good overview of the D-Day and Normandy campaigns, packing plenty of information into its 64 pages. [read full review]
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11 February 2016

Despatches from the Front: The War at Sea in the Mediterranean 1940-1944, compiled John Greham & Martin Mace. A selection of official dispatches describing a series of Royal Navy engagements in the Mediterranean, covering famous successes such at the attack on Taranto, the costly convoy battles and the less familiar defeat in the Dodecanese in 1943. A valuable source that tells us what the Navy thought of its own actions at the time, including interesting suggestions for improvements. [read full review]
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Japanese Battleships 1897-1945 - A Photographic Archive, R A Burt . Looks at the battleships, battlecruisers and some of the heavy armoured cruisers that served with the Japanese navy between the purchase of the two Fuji class ships from Britain in the 1890s to its destruction in 1945. A splendid selection of photographs that trace the evolution of these warships, both from ship-to-ship and after the major reconstructions carried out on many First World War era Japanese ships. [read full review]
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The Norman Campaigns in the Balkans 1081-1108, Georgios Theotokis . Having established themselves in the south of Italy and on Sicily, the Normans then turned east and began a series of attacks on the Byzantine Empire. This book traces their land campaigns in the Balkans, where they came up against Alexius I Comnenus. Over several campaigns both sides showed an impressive ability to adapt to circumstances and their opponents. [read full review]
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2 February 2016

Images of War: The Few - Preparation for the Battle of Britain, Philip Kaplan. Covers a wider period that the title might make you expect, from the pre-war period to the point where the Luftwaffe switched from attacks on airfields to the attack on London. Has a different feel to other books on the topic, including poetry and a focus on the terrible strain suffered at the airfields subjected to heaviest attack and by the pilots themselves. [read full review]
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The Funny Side of War for the Sick and Demented, Mat Vance. An unvarnished account of the experiences of a US Army Scout who served during the war in Iraq, but focusing on the more light-hearted (for a certain definition of light-hearted) aspects of his service career. The stories ring true, although it is unusual to find an author willing to put himself at the centre of quite so many escapades. Provides a different point of view of life in the modern US military, and thus a valuable work. [read full review]
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Warships after Washington - The Development of the Five Major Fleets 1922-1930, John Jordan. Looks at the impact of the Washington Naval Treaty on the development of the British, American, Japanese, French and Italian fleets and the types of ships designed and built during the 1920s. Fills a gap in the literature on warship development, and helps explain the 'why' of interwar ship design, as well as looking at the successes and failures of the treaty. [read full review]
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20 January 2016

Germany's High Seas Fleet in the First World War, Admiral Reinhard Scheer. Memoirs of the longest serving commander of the German High Sea Fleet during the First World War, written in 1919 to justify the performance of his fleet and the controversial U-boat campaign. Not always historically accurate, but a very useful insight into the attitudes and motives of this key German commander, and the reasons behind his actions. [read full review]
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The Battle of Petersburg, June 15-18, 1864, Sean Michael Chick. Looks at the final major battle of Grant's Overland Campaign, one of the classic 'missed opportunities' of military history which saw Grant slip past Lee's right wing without Lee noticing, but then fail to take advantage of his success, leading to the end of mobile warfare and the start of the long siege of Petersburg. [read full review]
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The Spanish Civil War 1936-39 (1) Nationalist Forces, Alejandro de Quesada. Looks at the forces that fought under Franco during the Spanish Civil War, from these elements of the pre-war army that sided with the rebels to the German and Italian forces sent by Hitler and Mussoline. Covers the army, air force and navy, and packs an impressive amount of information into the limited space. [read full review]
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14 January 2016

Illustrated Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, ed. Chris Bishop. Based on the Orbis War Machine series of the 1980s some of the post-war material is now badly dated, but the main articles are still valid, and the book covers a massive range of military equipment, from the latest jet aircraft to trucks and light vehicles. Well illustrated, and good at tracing the development of weapon types and the relationship between different items. [read full review]
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The Combat History of 21. Panzer Division, Werner Kortenhaus. Looks at the history of the 'new' 21. Panzer Division and its battles in Normandy, against the Americans in Alsace and Lorraine and on the Eastern Front. Written by a veteran of the division, initially just after the war and then revised in 1989-90, this is an absolutely excellent unit history, covering these events from the German point of view, but without the sort of bias so often present in this sort of book. [read full review]
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The First Blitz - Bombing London in the First World War, Ian Castle. A detailed raid-by-raid study of the German bombing offensive against London in the First World War, looking at the nine Zeppelin raids and eighteen aircraft raids that reached the capital. Follows the story from both sides, tracing the development of the German units, the British response to the raids and the details of each of the individual raids. [read full review]
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6 January 2016

Swords of the Viking Age, Ian Peirce. Combines a catalogue of key surviving Viking blades with an explanation of the types of blade and hilt and the methods used to construct them. A valuable reference work on the Viking Sword, with enough supporting information to give it more general interest. The heart of the book is the heavily illustrated catalogue of swords, which includes some in amazing condition. [read full review]
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In the Wake of the Graf Spee, Enrique Dick. Looks at the life of Hein Dick, a crewman on the Graf Spee who was interned in Argentina after the Battle of the River Plate, married an Argentinean, then had to struggle to get back to the country after he was deported back to Germany at the end of the Second World War. The first half, looking at his military career is interesting, but the second half, from the internment onwards is totally fascinating, and covers a neglected area. [read full review]
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The Men behind Monty, Richard Mead. Looks at the men who made Monty's distinctive command style possible, including his invaluable Chief of Staff Freddie de Guingand, the liaison officers who kept him in touch with the units under his command and the less famous staff officers who ran his three separate headquarters. Also examines the successes and failures of Monty's system, which had its critics then and now. [read full review]
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