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 1,236 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.
Marlborough's Other Army - The British Army and the Campaigns of the First Peninsula War, 1702-1712, Nicholas Dorrell. A history of the British intervention in Spain and Portugal during the War of the Spanish Succession, sometimes known as the First Peninsular War. Focuses mainly on recreating the armies involved in the campaigns, a tricky job in a period that saw units change their name whenever they changed commander. A useful study of this difficult and somewhat neglected campaign, which ended with the failure of the Allied attempt to put a Hapsburg on the Spanish throne [read full review]
M48 Patton vs Centurion - Indo-Pakistani War 1965, David R. Higgins. Looks at the 1965 war between India and Pakistan, a rare example of a post-war conflict in which British and American tanks served on opposite sides. Includes a useful account of the development of the two tanks, the versions in service during the war and an account of the fighting itself. Not so strong on the direct comparison between the effectiveness of the two types when operating against each other [read full review]
Luftwaffe Fighter Force - The View from the Cockpit, ed. David C. Isby. The results of a series of interrogations of senior Luftwaffe officers, carried out immediately after the end of the war, focusing on the German use of fighters and ground attack aircraft during the Second World War. Written without access to documents, but also before their views were distorted in the post-war period [read full review]
German Commerce Raiders 1914-18, Ryan K. Noppen. Looks at the surface vessels that operated against Allied shipping during the First World War, a mix of warships, converted liners and converted freighters, including one fully masted sailing ship. Although nowhere near as successful as the later U-boat campaign, these surface ships did embarrass the Royal Navy, especially early in the war, and forced the diversion of sizeable RN and Allied naval forces, so they are well worth studying [read full review]
Images of War: Great War Fighter Aces 1914-1916, Norman Franks. Covers the air war from the outbreak of conflict to the end of 1916, the period in which fighter aircraft were first developed, and the first 'aces' appeared. The majority of the photos are of those aces, a mix of formal portraits and pictures around their aircraft, with a smattering of other related pictures. Each chapter starts with a brief introduction to the air war in that period, along with potted biographies of the main people shown in the photos [read full review]
The First VCs - The Stories behind the First Victoria Crosses of the Crimean War and the Definition of Courage, John Grehan. Combines a history of the earliest winners of the Victoria Cross with a history of the foundation of the medal itself, all taking place against the background of the Crimean War. Looks at the sort of deeds that were felt to be worthy of reward when the first Victoria Crosses were awarded after the end of the war, as well as the debate that led to the creation of the award in the first place [read full review]
Republican Roman Warships 509-27 BC, Raffaele D'Amato. Looks at the development of Roman naval power from its very earliest mentions, through the first flowering of Roman sea power during the First Punic War to the battle of Actium, the last naval battle before Augustus founded the principate, a period of almost 500 years. Covers the ships themselves, the weapons they carried, how they operated, and the wars in which they were used. Has a great deal of info packed into its 48 pages [read full review]
Austro-Hungarian Cruisers and Destroyers 1914-18, Ryan K. Noppen. Looks at the largest Austro-Hungarian warships to see regular action during the First World War, four light cruisers and eighteen destroyers and the less valuable armoured cruisers, an obsolete type by 1914. Begins with a look at the ships themselves, before moving on to an examination of their generally successful use in the Adriatic during the First World War, one of the more successful theatres for the Austro-Hungarian armed forces. [read full review]
The 1915 Campaign, Andrew Rawson. Covers the fighting on the British front of the Western Front between the start of 1915 and the first half of 1916, up to the start of the battle of the Somme. Reveals at period in which the British army introduced new weapons and new techniques, but was still unable to win any significant victories, even when the initial part of an attack achieved success [read full review]
Bright Eyes of Danger - An Account of the Anglo-Sikh Wars 1845-1849, Bill Whitburn. Traces the development of the Sikh Empire under Ranjit Singh, his careful relationship with the British, the chaos that followed his death and the two wars that followed. Treats the two sides as equally valid, so we get a picture of the wars as they may have appeared at the time. Makes it clear that the first war in particular was a very close thing, with the British close to defeat on several occasions, only to be saved by the failure of Ranjit Singh's successors [read full review]
John and Sebastian Cabot - The Discovery of North America, Charles Raymond Beazley. Originally published in 1898, this is a classic, and still useful, examination of the careers of John and Sebastian Cabot, two key figures in the early history of English exploration. Beazley focused very heavily on an examination of the contemporary records of their voyages, and attempted to untangle the rather confused web of the activities of the father and son explorers, concentrating mainly on their time in English service. Includes most of the key documents, allowing the book to retain much of its value [read full review]
Casca 40: Blitzkreig, Tony Roberts. Follows Casca through the initial campaigns of the Second World War, serving as a tank commander in a panzer division in Poland, Belgium and France. A fairly convincing fictional account of tank warfare, with Casca fighting in northern Poland and Belgium, although bookended with Casca the Nazi apologist, an unwelcome appearance [read full review]
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]