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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 Duke of Wellington in 100 Objects

    Gareth Glover
    This is the third book of the 100 objects series that I have read and the format is truly inspired. As with his Napoleon book Gareth Glover gives us the story of each of the hundred objects in their context and in doing so writes a brief broad brush history of the life of Arthur Wesley/Duke of Wellington The objects are dealt with individually but the whole is structured in chronological order. Every item has two or three pages which makes this book easy to pick up at odd moments for a ‘little read’ but be warned it is easier to pick up than to put down. One may intend to read one section but then sees the picture of the next item so one reads on and ten minutes soon becomes half an hour.
    The range of the objects chosen is very wide from ivory miniatures to monuments on mountains, from violin to Tipu’s cannon. This is an illustrated biography that visits many bye ways in the Duke’s life.
    The publication is of a high quality; the photographs are beautifully presented. Although I am not keen on black print on some rather dark pages the overall effect lends an antique feel to the book.
    There is one surprising omission in that there isn’t any acknowledgement of where many of the objects are now. It would be nice to know on the off chance that one could visit the place.
    This book will appeal to a wide range of readers and we recommend it highly.

    Frontline Books, 2020
  • Lepanto 1571

    Nic Fields
    Here it is all you need to know about Lepanto and much more. This is Lepanto in the round set within its context which is the sixteenth century almost everything which has a bearing on the battle is herein. For instances included are a brief history of the Knights Hospitallers, the development of the galley, Janissaries, the confusion around the naming of big guns and the power politics of all participants. The footnotes alone make fascinating reading and also refer out to more information on most of the topics discussed in the book. The bibliography covers eleven pages in fairly small typeface. There are a few illustrations and maps.
    The author, Nic Fields, does not ‘talk down’ to the reader but, while not being a dry academic tone, leaves one aware of the considerable scholarship which has gone into the writing.
    This is a book to get immersed in and we highly recommend it to everyone with any interest in the sixteenth century generally and the development of naval warfare in particular.

    Pen & Sword Maritime, 2020
  • The Long Range Desert Group in Action 1940-1943

    Brendan O'Carroll
    Here is another of the Images of War series from Pen & Sword. All of the others of the series have had good reviews on this site but, for me, this book stands out. The author, Brendan O’Carroll, admits that over twenty years of research went into this book. Dozens of people gave permissions, support and their stories. All of this was not in vain for here we have a superb, unique visual record of the men and their exploits. Every photograph contains more than at first meets the eye.
    The Long Range Desert Group punched far above its weight and as the first of Britain’s Special Forces was a large influence on the present S.A.S. As with other books of this series there is very little text other than annotations. What text there is makes one want to read the other books on this subject by this author.
    We highly recommend this book to both the browser and the ‘studier’.

    Pen & Sword Military, 2020
  • The Light Division in the Peninsular War 1811-1814

    Tim Saunders & Rob Yuill
    Tim Saunders and Bob Yuill have done it again and given us a superb book. After the Light Division 1808-1811 [reviewed on this site] we had high expectations of the second part to take us from 1811 to 1814 and we have not been disappointed. Again the text is well focussed and doesn’t drift off into writing about the wider campaign more than is necessary to tell the Division’s story. This volume seemed to have even more insights into the lives of the officers and ordinary infantry soldiers both in and between the battles. Lots of snippets stick in the mind such as hunting with foxhounds, shooting woodcock and marching whole battalions out of the line to re-uniform. The skirmishes and battles are well described and given colour by the personal reports of both officers and men. The story is not all glory but includes the lows and the dark passages of the division. This is the story of the ‘incomparable Light Division’ accurately and engagingly told.
    There are a large number of maps and photographs interspersed throughout the text. Many photographs are of the locations today which would be a big help to anyone visiting the battlefields and marching routes.
    We highly recommend you read The Light Division1808-1811 first then you will find this book a ‘must read’.

    Pen & Sword Military, 2020
  • Yangtze Showdown. China and the ordeal of HMS Amethyst

    Brian Izzard
    Cover to cover a really good read. This is the story of the Yangtze incident in the round, the military and political machinations prior to, during and after the event. If you know the gung-ho 1957 film with hero Richard Todd then prepared to be shocked by the truth. There are action heroes a plenty but there are also ‘politicos’ who are anything but heroes.
    The first sentence of the book is ‘A couple of shells whistled overhead and a group of sailors on board HMS Amethyst came to the same conclusion “They couldn’t hit a barn door”. The story goes on with the same engaging vitality. As for the Chinese hitting barn doors I remember newspaper photographs at the time rechristening HMS Amethyst as HMS Pepperpot.
    Supporting the text are two useful maps and an informative set of photographs. Also the set of five appendices complete the information given in the story.
    Well researched and beautifully written this book will be informative to military buffs and students of cold war politics. But more than those people we highly recommended it to the much wider audience of anyone who enjoy a good read.

    Seaforth Publishing, 2020