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Our Book Reviews


In the course of our research, we have found several books useful so we've listed and reviewed them. Select a category to browse the book list, use the form to search for a specific topic, or select from our featured reviews.

If you have read a particularly good book, we would welcome your recommendations too - Send us your book reviews.

Featured reviews :

  • Freeing the Baltic 1918-1920

    Bennet, Geoffrey
    An interesting and unexpected book about an often overlooked conflict in the Baltic states during the confusion following the 1918 armistice. It ostensibly follows the Baltic activities of British Navy cruisers and destroyers under the command of Admiral Sir Walter Cowan, but it actually provides a much wider picture of the struggle of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia for independence from Russia. It gives a good overview of the various nationalist forces fighting both the Bolshevik forces and the White Russians under Yudenitch, as well as the ethnic German 'Balts' and the remaining former Imperial German forces under Gen. von der Goltz who himself was attempting to promote German influence in Latvia and it's neighbours. But the main theme of the book is how the Royal Navy, together with some elements of the French attempted to moderate this and stop Bolshevik and German interference. At times it is quite 'high-level', but this is understandable, given the scope of the subject. It redeems itself with some good first-hand accounts and detailed engagement descriptions, particularly of the 40 foot, shallow draft motorboats C.M.B.'s which could each carry one or two torpedoes. These small, fast boats managed to infiltrate, under cover of night, right into Kronstadt harbour which protected Petrograd (St Petersburg) and sheltered the pride of the Bolshevik navy, and sink much of it! This is a good update of a work originally published in 1964. It includes well researched appendices and some interesting photos of the people and ships involved but more than that, it highlights that for many people, the fighting definitely did not end on the 11th November 1918.
    Pen & Sword Maritime, 2017
  • Marshal Ney at Quatre Bras

    Paul L. Dawson
    Do we need another book about Waterloo? If they are like this we most certainly do. This book is different because of the primary source material researched to create it. The usual story is not trotted out without a fresh critical analysis. Within the book one chapter stands above all others for me and that is chapter 8. The movements of 1st Corps is a tale of mismanagement and confusion and has been a source of conjecture for all who study Quatre Bras. Paul Dawson makes, as clear as possible, the events of the day carefully weighing the evidence for the ultimate actions of the key players. He makes the confusion clear while bewailing the fact that verbal exchanges which could have played an important part on the day are lost to history. This is a book for the Waterloo 'aficionado' written in a way which is easily accessible to the general reader. I highly recommend this book and at the time of writing look forward to, the soon to be published, Paul Dawson's 'Waterloo. The Truth at Last'.
    Frontline Books. Pen & Sword Books Ltd., 2017
  • The Forgotten War against Napoleon

    Gareth Glover
    Initially I was confused. I'm not sure what I expected but it wasn't this. It didn't seem like a Gareth Glover, a writer I admire immensely. It is about conflicts around the Mediterranean which I knew of and were in no way forgotten. The chapters were short and pithy, with a wealth of footnotes. However once I got into the swing of the book, and it does swing along, I found I was greatly enjoying it. In effect it became a Gareth Glover. It is written in a most readable style with loads of well researched information. The book has 56 chapters, the shortest only one page long, 16 illustrations, all contemporary with the events, and 33 maps. For me the true value of this book is that it connects events which are most usually only studied in isolation. What the author has demonstrated is the inter-connection between seeming disparate events. The connection coming about because they are on or of the Mediterranean. When I finished this book I was sorry it wasn't longer. It is a tour de force and reminded me of areas which I now want to revisit and to read more about in greater detail. It is an excellent overview. The only thing wrong with it is the title.
    Pen & Sword Military. Pen & Sword \Books \Ltd., 2017
  • Man of War

    Anthony Sullivan
    Having very recently read about the development of the supply system for the Baltic fleet [see Transformation of British Naval Strategy review on this site] I developed an interest in the career of Admiral Saumarez. Quite fortuitously I found Anthony Sullivan's new book on the life of the man himself. The book covers the whole of his life and, as one would expect from the title, gives a lot of information about his naval career. The ships he served on, the ships he commanded, the squadrons and fleets he eventually led, as well as the actions he was in are all there. Saumarez did not fight in the battle of Trafalgar and, to the authors credit, that battle gets only a paragraph in passing. The author has done his research and does not need to pad out the narrative. The book is without illustrations but has a sufficient number of maps and battle plans to support the text. Saumarez was a remarkable fighter, a true naval hero, a family man and a man of his time who was not free of some minor blemishes this I know from reading this excellent book.
    Frontline Books. Pen & Sword Books Ltd., 2017
  • The Transformation of British Naval Strategy

    James Davey
    This is a book aimed more at the specialist rather than the general browser. Having said that it is written in an easy flowing style which makes the subject matter easy to understand. The subject of the book, sub-titled 'seapower and supply in Northern Europe 1808 to 1812' is the logistical problem of keeping a substantial fleet supplied with all its needs far from any base. The story is one of the evolution and development of systems which brought together the different branches of the supply chain to become a very efficient 'machine'. The end user, Admiral Saumarez's fleet, contributed greatly, in terms of the feed back, to the vast improvements made. The text is supported by very few illustrations and maps but with a wealth of tables and graphs. A book not to missed by students of Napoleonic naval warfare. I warmly recommend a fascinatingly good read.
    The Boydell Press, 2012