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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 Trafalgar Chronicle, New Series 4

    Ed. Peter Hore
    The Trafalgar Chronicle is the journal of The 1805 Club which publishes new research into a broad range of subjects connected with the Georgian navy. This edition, new series 4, edited by Peter Hore, contains twenty-one articles many of them with an American interest but with a wide range of subject matter. Among the articles is the intriguingly titled ‘Nelson was an Irishman’, as well as articles on ‘Sin Bo‘suns’, the oldest Admiral of the Fleet ever with a naval service of 96 years, and ‘Jack Punch’ the one black post-captain of the period. The subjects of the non-biographical articles include privateers, the balloon, carronades, the battle of St. George’s Cay and the Russians on the Tagus. I could go on to list all the articles as I enjoyed everyone.
    The book is beautifully produced with some rare appropriate illustrations, and extensive references. A rather nice touch are the brief biographies of the contributors.
    Every article is well written, extensively researched, informative and a joy to read. We highly recommend it to both expert and layman alike.

    Seaforth Publishing, 2019
  • Stephen and Matilda's Civil War

    Matthew Lewis
    As a summation, an over view, Matthew Lewis’s book captures the essence, the ebb and flow, of the Anarchy. It is cleverly structured, moving chapter to chapter from opponent to opponent. The style of writing is lively and engaging which makes it difficult to put down.
    The book is well researched although original sources are not extensive for the period covered. Lewis makes clear the bias in the accounts which are available and draws out some of their discrepancies. He supports his case by describing the actuality of subsequent positions and actions
    The well supported conclusion is that the Anarchy was not as anarchical as the lingering legacy of Victorian writings would have us believe.
    We highly recommend this book for anyone coming new or looking for a refreshing reappraisal of the Anarchy.

    Pen & Sword History, 2019
  • Battle for Paris 1815

    Paul L. Dawson
    For anyone seeking a full understanding of the end of the Napoleonic era this book is a must read. Paul Dawson’s tour de force of research, into previously rarely access French sources, really has produced the previously untold story of Grouchy’s withdrawal/retreat from Wavre to Paris. One example is when he writes of a French cavalry charge on the 3rd July 1815 ‘This was the last cavalry charge of the Napoleonic wars. It has been, until the details were teased out from the mass of paper work in the French Army Archives, totally forgotten about.’
    Dawson makes clear that he is a firm supporter of Grouchy and criticises the ‘received wisdom’ about him by using lots of first hand evidence. It is refreshing to note that the author also makes clear where he has had to change his own mind as he came across new evidence. There are some pertinent insights, given almost as throw aways, into the minutiae of campaigning such as the lack of good horses for aides carrying dispatches.
    The narrative flows in an easily readable style and there are some appropriate illustrations.
    All the above is most positive however there at two major negatives, one within the book’s scope the other without. First down side is that a reader of this book needs at least two large maps. One of the area retreated through and another of the city of Paris. Without these much of the information does not have much meaning. A troop movement from A to B is only understood if you know where A and B are.
    The other negative, not strictly about this book, probably requires another book to address. This would cover the contemporaneous movements of the Allies. Knowing these would allow some fuller judgements to be made on the appropriateness of Grouchy’s movements.
    We thoroughly recommend this book with the caveat that the reader provides their own maps.

    Frontline Books, 2019
  • United States Airborne Divisions 1942-2018 (Images of War series)

    Michael Green
    Another in the "Images of War" series, this is a good overview of the equipment and organisation of, primarily, the 82nd and 101st Airborne divisions, with some coverage of other divisions and their brief histories. It nicely blends their WW2 histories with airborne actions since then, up to their modern organisation, kit and equipment, and vehicles/aircraft including their current deployment of drones.
    The main focus of the book is, of course, the usual mix of photographs that you will have come to expect if you are a regular to these publications. Archive and in theatre images are coupled with museum exhibits, reenactors and press/publicity photos. A very handy volume.
    Pen & Sword Military, 2019
  • The Zeppelin

    Michael Belafi (Trans. Cordula Werschkun)
    This is a fascinating study of a fascinating man and his more than life-long obsession with lighter-than-air flight. It primarily covers Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin's life and the early Zeppelins, before the 1st World War. There are copious photographs from the early days covering the main developments and achievements, and I have rarely seen such coverage in a single book. There is a very short chapter on their use as a weapon in WW1, and it is clear that the author thoroughly disapproved of it's militarisation, and gives it very little space, but I think it should be applauded for that. There are plenty of books demonising the Zeppelins, and it's very refreshing to have one that doesn't.
    There is also a decent section on what I would call the glory days of the dirigibles, during the 1920's and early 30's but the main focus is still the early years, since the Count himself died in 1917 and I feel that the book is none the less for that. There is even a final chapter that covers the modern airships that are the Count's direct descendants which is valuable to provide a sense of continuity and re-birth.
    The text in some places can seem a little unusual to English eyes, since it is quite clearly and unashamedly a translation of a German work. But I found that once I had accustomed myself to that, it read smoothly and enthusiastically. It fills an important gap on my early aviation bookshelf, and I would unhesitatingly recommend it to fill the similar gap on yours.
    Pen & Sword Aviation, 2015