Here we offer a selection of our favourite books on military history. Some are the books we have used as sources for this site, some are good introductions to their subjects and others are interesting oddities.
We also have a selection of 1,224 longer book reviews.
All links on this site go straight to the relevant Amazon web site (currently we link to the UK, US and Canadian sites), where you can place orders for any of the books listed here.
The Atlantic Wall (3) - The Südwall, Steven J. Zaloga. Looks at the Mediterranean section of the German coastal defence lines, covering the south of France and part of the north Italian coast. These fortifications consumed a significant amount of resources, but when the invasion finally came proved to be largely ineffective, although some did play a part in some of the battles as Allies troops cleared the French coast. This volume looks at the design of the fortifications, their distribution and construction, and the role they played in the fighting in 1944 [read full review]
Despatches from the Front: Capital Ships at War 1939-1945, compiled John Grehan & Martin Mace. Reproduces a series of Royal Navy reports covering some of the key battleship actions of the Second World War, including the battle of the River Plate, loss of the Hood, Prince of Wales and Repulse, the sinking of the Bismarck, X-boat attacks on the Tirpitz and the operations of the British Pacific Fleet in 1945. Helps trace the decline of the battleship during the Second World War, a conflict in which direct clashes between battleships were very rare, but air power came to dominate [read full review]
Byzantium Triumphant - The Military History of the Byzantines 959-1025, Julian Romane. Looks at the military (and to a lesser extent political) history of Byzantium during the lifetime of Basil II Porphrogenitus (the Bulgar Slayer). Tells an interesting story that really brings Byzantine society alive, although perhaps at the cost of skating over some of the complexities of some of the sources Byzantine history. This was a period that saw Medieval Byzantium at its most powerful, despite the rather convoluted series of civil wars that dominate the first part of the book! [read full review]
J2M Raiden and N1K1/2 Shiden/ Shiden-Kai Aces, Yasuho Izawa with Tony Holmes. Looks at the limited careers of three late Japanese Navy interceptors of the Second World War, tracing their development and performance in combat. Includes an interesting account of the combat record of the 343rd Kokutai under Genda Minoru, a late war Japanese leader who didn't believe that the kawikaze ramming attack was the best way to attack American bombers. [read full review]
The Vikings, R Chartrand, K Durham, M Harrison & I Heath. A nicely organised overview of the Vikings, looking at Viking society, the Hersirs (medium ranked men who played a key part in early raids), the Vikings in battle and finally Viking ships. More than an introduction to the topic, there are some excellent sections, in particular on the various types of ships used by the Vikings and on their voyages to North America [read full review]
Armies of the War of the Triple Alliance 1864-70: Paraguay, Brazil, Uruguay & Argentina, Gabriele Esposito. Looks at one of the most costly wars in South American history, between Paraguay's military dictator and an alliance of Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina. Begins with a history of the war itself, triggered by the ambitions of Paraguay's dictator, before moving on to examine the four armies involved in the conflict. A useful English language account of the largest war in the history of South America [read full review]
Appomattox 1865 - Lee's Last Campaign, Ron Field. Looks at the final campaign of the American Civil War in Virginia, Lee's failed attempt to escape south to join up with other Confederate troops after the Union army finally broke through at Petersburg. Nice to have a book that focuses on this campaign in some detail, looking at the significant fighting that kept pushing Lee west instead of south, instead of skipping over it on the way between the siege of Petersburg and the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse [read full review]
Hitler's Last Witness, the Memoirs of Hitler's Bodyguard, Rochus Misch. The autobiography of a member of Hitler's bodyguard, who ended up operating the telephone exchange in the Berlin Bunker. More interesting as an account of daily life on the fringes of Hitler's private circle than for its insight into the conduct of the war, partly because Misch chose not to be very curious, a trait that ran the risk of seeing you dispatched to the front. Provides more details of the final days of the war, and is thus a valuable witness to the last moments in the bunker [read full review]
Sir John Moore - The Making of a Controversial Hero, Janet MacDonald. A full length biography of Sir John Moore, best known for the battle of Corunna and for training the rifle corps at Shorncliffe. As this book proves, he had an active and varied career, serving on Corsica, in the West Indies, Ireland, Holland, Egypt, Sicily and Sweden as well as in Spain and Portugal, so as well as providing a biography of Moore, this book also gives us a cross-section of the British army's activities during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. [read full review]
Europe: Chained by History, Larry J. Hilton. A generally well meaning book looking at the history of Europe, and suggesting that a truly united Europe is the continent's best chance for a safe and prosperous future, somewhat marred by a series of minor historical errors that rather niggle (including Vienna's attempt to claim Mozart as a native son). Includes a very strong examination of hyper inflation and the rise of anti-Semitism in Vienna, a dark shadow that marred an otherwise impressive city [read full review]
The Mongol Conquests - The Military Operations of Genghis Khan and Sübe'etei, Carl Fredrik Sverdrup. A detailed examination of the campaigns of the two greatest Mongol military leaders, using a wide range of sources, including previously un-translated Chinese materials. Gives a clear picture of the true nature of the Mongol conquests, from Genghis's own establishment of power in Mongolia to the invasions of Western Europe and northern China. Not always the easiest of reads (mainly because of the complexity of the story), but a very valuable contribution to our understanding of the rise of the Mongols. [read full review]
Merchant Seafaring Through World War 1 - 1914-1918, Peter Lyon. Looks at the fate of British merchant seaman during the periods of German surface raiding and the U-boat war. Rather firmly takes sides, with a hostile view of the U-boat commanders and their tactics, although one that is supportable by the evidence provided. Contains a series of impressive tales of survival against the odds, as well as tracing the development of U-boat tactics and the British countermeasures. [read full review]
T-64 Battle Tank - The Cold War's Most Secret Tank, Steven J. Zaloga. A brief history of a tank that was too advanced for its own good, combining advanced features that meant it couldn't be exported with an unreliable engine that made it unsuited for service with the Red Army for many years after it first appeared. The limited service life of the T-64 allows the author to focus on the complex and troubled development process, giving us an interesting picture of the way tank development worked in the Soviet Union [read full review]
Special Operations South-East Asia 1942-1945: Minerva, Baldhead and Longshanks/ Creek, David Miller. Focuses on three Special Forces operations in South East Asia – a failed attempt to gather intelligence on Sumatra, a series of similar but successful operations on the Andaman Islands and a 'cutting out' operation conducted in the Portuguese enclave of Goa. These were three very different operations, and perhaps the only thing they have in common is that they are now hardly remembered, so this is a useful study of the three. [read full review]
Palestine - the Ottoman Campaigns of 1914-1918, Edward J. Erickson. An interesting study of the Ottoman side of the Palestinian campaigns of 1915-1918, looking at the failed Ottoman attacks on the Suez canal, the first two unsuccessful British attacks on Gaza and Allenby's successful campaign that eventually forced the Ottomans to sue for peace. A useful book somewhat marred by the author's approach to the Armenian Genocide, which is briefly discussed as if it was a valid response to a major security threat instead of a deliberate genocide ordered from above. [read full review]