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Our Reviews

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

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Featured reviews :

  • In Action with Destroyers 1939-1945

    Commander J.A.Dennis/Ed: Anthony Cumming
    This book is the personal account of one man’s war. One of that particular special breed who are destroyer men. The language is not jingoistic not egoistic Commander Dennis never looked upon or wrote of himself as a hero choosing to attribute his survival to luck rather than his skill or his bravery. But hero he most certainly was. He saw service in the English Channel, the Eastern Mediterranean the Red sea, and with the Arctic convoys. Every tough assignment written up in the same low key factual manner. He calmly lists off colleagues, friends lost as ships were sunk. In one action near Crete his ship was the only survivor of a group of four destroyers. In the course of his story we hear about every kind of destroyer action from shore bombardment, anti-aircraft fire, submarine hunting, escorting convoys to attempts to torpedo enemy capital ships. There are also some appropriate photographs.
    The whole book flows with the action like a good novel but this is fact and it is difficult to put down.
    After the diary the editor has added a very good thirteen page summary of the wider picture of the war which places the actions in their context.
    We thoroughly recommend this book to all.

    Pen & Sword Maritime, 2017
  • Allied Coastal Forces of World War 11. Volume 11

    John Lambert & Al Ross
    This is not a book just to be read but to be owned. A quality publication in a large format, 290mm by 240mm, with over 250 pages packed with technical drawings, photographs and engaging text. Some publicity blurb says it would help anyone wishing to build a model but for some of the boats little more would be needed to build to full size craft such is the detail given.
    Although it may look like a technical tome written only for experts, and it fits that role very well, it would also delight any general reader with an interest in naval development. So much extra is covered around the development and construction including the politics and finance under the Lend Lease arrangements, in a brief review it is difficult to do the book justice. The joint authors massive research has resulted in the listing of every boat built and its eventual fate, including a chapter about the ones which still exist in museums or as houseboats.
    Small sections which caught my interest were the production of the various camouflage effects tried out in different theatres of operation, what the allowance of paint was for a US PT boat squadron to maintain its boat, that boats were sent to the USSR in kit form and the many were returned to the US in 1955 and that attempts were made to build an MTB to be carried aboard cruisers. So much is here including small details such as the personal weapons carried aboard that I think it would be difficult to ask a question about Vosper and Elco boats that this book does not answer.
    This is the second of a three volume work and my regret is that I have not yet read the other two. This regret is reinforced by the many references in this volume to volumes one and three.
    This is a major work on coastal forces unparalleled in both width and depth of its coverage.
    We cannot recommend this book too highly.

    Seaforth Publishing, 2019
  • The Eighth Army in North Africa

    Simon Forty
    This series of Images of War is intended to be all about the pictures and this book is a very good example of that genre. There are photographs taken on both sides of the conflict showing the men and their equipment. Almost every type of armoured vehicle used in the desert campaign is shown some in pristine others in a well battered state. There is sufficient text to give the photographs a context but most usefully the bulk of the writing is as captions to the photographs. A few maps and schematic drawings fill out the story. Particularly informative in an easily understood way are the comparisons between Axis and Allied guns in both range and penetration on pgs. 36 & 37. The further reading list guides the interested reader to fuller explanations of the to and fro of the North African campaign. One tiny criticism is that on page 87 the captions for the two men have switched left to right.
    We thoroughly enjoyed looking at this book and recommend it to you.

    Pen & Sword Military, 2019
  • British Army of the Rhine - The BAOR 1945-1993

    Paul Chrystal
    Part of the "Cold War 1945-1991" series, this is quite a small book at only 126 pages, to cover such a large subject and I think that's it's biggest issue. It tries to cover too much. There are sections which are interesting and obviously well researched, particularly the chapters on the predecessors and formation of the BAOR, de-nazification & fraternisation and the 'families on the Rhine'. The sources and further reading sections are useful too. However the majority of the period of the BAOR's service is somewhat sparsely covered, and the token section on the RAF and the Royal Navy really should have been left out all together. There is hopefully a much bigger, more comprehensive book somewhere that this is taster for, and I would very much like to read it. The author has a good grasp of the subject and good photographs supplied by his family furnishing welcome detail and authenticity but it has definitely lost something in the edit.
    Pen and Sword Military, Barnsley, 2018
  • British Cruiser Warfare. Lessons of the Early War 1939-1941

    Alan Raven
    In the hundreds of book reviews I have written I don’t believe I have ever used the accolade excellent. Unreservedly this book is excellent.
    The first one hundred and fifty pages are a ‘daily diary’ listing all the cruiser actions which took place from September 1939 until December 1941. Because the information given covers nearly all engagements, instead of just the successful ones, the reader comes to understand just how many unsuccessful attacks were made by German submarines, the large number of German torpedoes which exploded prematurely, how many depth charges were dropped without result, how many bombing attacks by aircraft failed and how much ammunition was fired at aircraft with very few hits. E.g. H.M.S. Coventry was subjected to daily multiple air attacks from the 14th May until 29th May. Thousands of 4” rounds were expended, requiring re-ammunitioning twice, no aircraft were hit and Coventry had no more than a little splinter damage from near misses among the large number of bombs dropped.
    The second half of the book is a series of twenty eight of what the author calls summaries. Each is a few pages of analysis of such topics as Surface Gunnery, Weather, The Human Condition and Intelligence effects. Open the book at any one of these and be drawn in.
    The book spotlights a short section of the Second World war but is intensively researched and beautifully written up. There are photographs of the cruisers on nearly every page plus some useful maps. Towards the end of the book there are pull-out double A4 plans of four classes of cruiser. The bibliography is of original research among Admiralty and American files.
    To anyone with a slight interest or a lot of knowledge I cannot commend this book too highly.

    Seaforth Publishing, 2019