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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.

If you have read, watched or listened to a particularly good item, we would welcome your recommendations too - Send us your reviews.

Featured reviews :

  • The Power and the Glory

    Steve Dunn
    This is a novel view of the Royal Navy over most of its existence. Naval Reviews were the pulling together of the fleet to show the nation’s power and might ostensibly [even ostentatiously] to the monarch but to friends and potential enemies alike. The author has brought together a fascinating array of information not only about the ships but material ranging from the strategic background to the lunch menus. The result is a brilliant overview of our changing navy with a bonus of insight into the society of the time of change.
    Photographs abound throughout the book and the text is lucid and engaging .
    However for those, like me, who love the Royal Navy the full story is a tragedy. The book tells the nation’s story of increasing power until its zenith and then the steady decline to today’s level. This is also the navy’s story.
    We highly commend this novel approach to naval history to all readers.

    Seaforth Publishing, 2021
  • Napoleon and the Art of Leadership

    William Nester
    When I first saw this book I was fearful that it was just another biography of Napoleon. But part of the title ‘the art of leadership’ intrigued me. I was pleased to find that the author stuck faithfully to his brief for at least the first three-quarters of the book. The focus was very clearly on the leadership actions and thinking of Napoleon himself and includes on the way the large amount of advice on leadership he gave to others. The final quarter reverts to more of a biography which perhaps reflects the absence of fresh thinking on Napoleon’s part.
    Almost incidentally to the main theme we end up with a rather good biography of this ‘flawed genius’. We see the initial energy and drive of the genius become more and more egocentric until the flaws take over. This narrative flows through the book and beautifully draws out the increasing mismatch between what Napoleon said/wrote and what he did.
    It is quite a large book as befits the subject with 395 pages of well written text and with over a hundred further pages of supporting notes.
    We highly recommend this book to those who only want a good read about the life of a ‘flawed genius’ and those who want more will get more.

    Frontline Books, 2020
  • Ships of the Royal Navy

    J J Colledge, Ben Warlow & Steve Bush
    Revised and updated this is the fifth edition of this superb work of reference. The names and significant information about every Royal Navy ship from the Fifteenth century up until those under construction today. There is sufficient introductory information to allow the reader to understand the necessarily abbreviated text. Even so this is a large book of nearly 500 pages with a rough estimate of 15,000 ships names. Also included are the Royal Australian, Canadian and New Zealand navies. As an aside even some people who are just curious about names can find that there are nine ships which have been called Magpie, nine called Penguin and thirty-one called Sparrow.
    This is a must have book for anyone with an interest in the Royal Navy.
    Very highly recommended.

    Seaforth Publishing, 2020
  • Napoleon's Peninsular War

    Paul Dawson
    In Paul Dawson’s book we have an altogether different view of the Peninsular War. The sub-title is an accurate summary of the contents namely the French experience of the war in Spain 1808-1809. It was Napoleon’s war but he spent less than three months in Spain. The substance of the book is the correspondence, both official and personal, which passed back and forth among those involved in the campaign. It makes for some fascinating reading, some real insights into the other side of the coin and the reality of soldiering for both sides in a gruelling war. What I found interesting was the nature of the private letters home. It may be a reflection of the author’s selection but they were far more military focussed than the equivalent letters sent by British. For the French no mention of fox hunting or parties.
    Paul Dawson claims to be pro-Napoleon but for me the message of the book and the Peninsular campaign is anti-Napoleon. He failed to give the necessary authority/power to anyone but himself so that his marshals disagreed and failed to cooperate. Napoleon’s attempt to micro-manage from a distance was also a failure. The first hand evidence has been brought from the archives, some for the first time, which makes this book rather special and a very good read.
    We warmly recommend it.

    Frontline Books, 2020
  • Wellington's Infantry

    Gabriele Esposito
    Here is a book with a bit of a wow factor and it goes much further than the title suggests. All the British Guards, Line, Scottish and Light Infantry regiments are covered. Then come the hundreds of units from around the world. A further section covers foreign troops in British service and this includes the Kings German Legion. The range is from the many full regiments raised in Canada to the militia companies of the West Indies. Militias, Veterans and Fencibles are all included even the Select Embodied Militia, making the coverage truly comprehensive. By way of example of the inclusivity one unit mentioned is the grand sounding Canadian Light Dragoons raised in 1813 comprised only eighty men but took part in several engagements until disbanded in 1815. Naturally in a book of 137 pages the coverage of each unit is slight being an overview of the whole picture rather than the detail.
    The many illustrations showing a range of uniforms of different units are really excellent and the bibliography points the reader to further reading. There is also a concluding chapter on uniforms and the changes made in this period.
    Forgive the somewhat misleading title, many of these units mentioned never came anywhere near Wellington’s zone of command. Enjoy a jolly interesting read and put this book in your reference section for dipping into as the need arises or when you just feel like looking at the pictures
    We strongly recommend this book.

    Pen & Sword Military, 2021