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 1,248 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 Seleukid Empire of Antiochus III 223-187 BC, John D. Grainger. Looks at the life and achievements of Antiochus III, one of the most successful of the Seleukid Emperors, but now best remembered for his defeats at the hands of the Romans. During a long reign he regained control of most areas that had been claimed by his predecessors, defeated the Ptolomies, secured most of Asia Minor, but overstretched himself with an invasion of Thrace and his activities in mainland Greece, which helped trigger the clash with Rome. [read full review]
Menus, Munitions & Keeping the Peace – The Home Front Diaries of Gabrielle West, 1914-1917, ed. Avalon Weston. The wartime diaries of Gabrielle West, following her as she worked in (and set up) various canteens scattered around military hospitals the vast wartime armaments industry, before a chance of career saw her become a paid wartime Woman Police Office, serving in munitions factories. Provides a fascinating view of the munitions industry, and a very different view of the Home Front to any other I've read [read full review]
In the Name of Lykourgos – The Rise and Fall of the Spartan Revolutionary Movement 243-146BC, Miltiadis Michalopoulos. Looks at the last desperate attempts to restore the power of Sparta, nearly a century and a half after her defeat at Leuctra was followed by a collapse of Spartan power. Three Spartan rulers, Agis IV, Cleomenes III and Nabis, made revolutionary attempts to increase the power of the Spartan army and to return Spartan society to a perceived golden age, but these efforts ended in military defeat, occupation and eventually permanent conquest by the Romans. [read full review]
Russia's Last Gasp: The Eastern Front 1916-17, Prit Buttar. Looks at the most successful Russian offensive of the First World War, the Brusilov offensive of 1916, its eventual failure, and the collapse of the Tsarist regime that followed in 1917. Combines an excellent military history of the various campaigns with a detailed look at the political background in Russia, the failings of the Tsarist regime and its army, and the collapse of support for the Tsar that led to the first Russian Revolution [read full review]
The First British Army, 1624-1628: The Army of the Duke of Buckingham, Laurence Spring. Looks at the first army raised after the Union of the Crowns, a rather chaotic effort that produced armies that suffered defeats against the French and Spanish, and begin to illustrate the financial and political problems that would plague the reign of Charles I. This first British army emerges as underpaid, badly led and suffering from confused orders, and everything it attempted ended in failure [read full review]
Hornblower's Historical Shipmates: The Young Gentlemen of Pellew's Indefatigable, Heather Noel-Smith and Lorna M. Campbell. Looks at the varied careers of the midshipmen who took part in Captain Sir Edward Pellow's victory over the French ship of the line Les Droits de L'Homme in 1797, providing us with an interesting cross section of naval biographies covering a group few of whom became famous during the Napoleonic Wars. Demonstrates the wide range of experiences available to Royal Naval officers in this period, as well as providing an interesting view of the character of Pellow [read full review]
'Allies are a Tiresome Lot' - The British Army in Italy in the First World War, John Dillon. Looks at the experience of the British Italian Expeditionary Force, sent to support the Italian war effort in the aftermath of their defeat at Caporetto. Organised by theme, covering topics such as morale, discipline, relations with the Italians and how these all impacted on the two main British battles in Italy, one defensive battle and their participation in the battle of Vittorio Veneto. An interesting study of a less familiar part of the British war effort [read full review]
1 Group Bomber Command - An Operational Record, Chris Ward with Greg Harrison and Grzegorz Korcz. Split into two halves – a narrative account of the Group's activities within Bomber Command and a reference section covering each squadron and its aircraft. The narrative takes us day-by-day through the Group's main raids, including losses and a look at the success or failure of the raids. A useful reference work, and also a sobering reminder of the scale of losses suffered by Bomber Command throughout the war. [read full review]
The Vikings and their Enemies: Warfare in Northern Europe 750-1100, Philip Line. Looks at who the Vikings were, how and why their fought and how they compared to their neighbours and victims. Does a good job of dealing with the limited sources, which were either written by the Viking's victims, or produced in Scandinavia centuries after the events they portray. Makes good use of contemporary accounts of warfare elsewhere in Europe, and the limited reliable sources for the Vikings, to produce a detailed picture of their military world [read full review]
The Roman Empire and the Silk Routes - The Ancient World Economy & the Empires of Parthia, Central Asia and Han China, Raoul McLaughlin. Looks at the silk trade in China, its impact on the Roman economy, the states and civilisations along the various Silk Routes. A fascinating book that links together the two great superpowers of the Ancient world. At its best when examining the silk trade itself or the cultures along the land and sea routes, although sometimes gets a bit distracted and wanders away from the main topic. Also examines the possibility of direct contact between the two ancient superpowers, but comes to the conclusion that although this probably came close to happening, it never quite did [read full review]
Battlespace 1865 - Archaeology of the Landscapes, Strategies and Tactics of the North Platte Campaign, Nebraska, Douglas Scott, Peter Bleed and Amanda Renner. An archaeological study of two minor skirmishes in the North Platte valley of Nebraska, fought between the US cavalry and a largely Cheyenne force reacting to an earlier massacre. Looks at the concept of 'battlespace' to see how it relates to the battlefields, and uses a series of modern archaeological techniques to locate the two battlefields and see how the surviving remains match with the primary sources [read full review]
America's Modern Wars - Understanding Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam, Christopher A. Lawrence. A largely statistical analysis of post-war counterinsurgency warfare, looking to see if there are any patterns that might help explain the outcome of insurgencies. Provides some thought provoking data, suggesting that high force ratios are key, as long as the insurgency doesn't get too big, and also goes some way to disproving other ideas. Not great on the human element of these conflicts, but still a very valuable study of the sort of conflicts that look to dominate in the future [read full review]
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]