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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 :

  • Great Naval Battles of the Pacific War

    John Grehan
    If ever a book needed maps, and plenty of them, this is one. The masses of well researched information is all about position and movement which the reader can only fully comprehend if they have a map to hand. Modern atlases sold in this country don’t usually have the detail of the Pacific islands which is required. I am lucky that I have the Times atlas of the Second World war but even so it meant reading at my desk rather than propped up in bed.
    The big positive of this book is the quantity and quality of the information about the five major actions of the naval war in the Pacific . The content is ‘all meat and no gravy’, no opinions or personal accounts just the facts. Both Allied and Japanese sources have been used. It is interesting to note how both sides ‘slurred’ the information about what was hit and how badly for bragging rights or propaganda purposes.
    I can see this book as being very useful to work from on a map table with ship models. In spite of the difficulties afore mentioned in reading in comfort this book really does reward the effort.

    Frontline Books, 2022
  • Fighting with the Long Range Desert Group

    Brendan O'Carroll
    War may be viewed on many levels a national conflict and the strategic sweep of armies or the placing of divisions and brigades but at the base of the pyramid everything depends on individual men. This superb book is about one of those men who fought his war as a member of a very special unit the Long Range Desert Group. The motto of the LRDG was ‘Not by strength by guile’ and although they had to do quite a lot of fighting their most important role meant they should avoid any contact with the enemy wherever possible. Put briefly their mission was to go deep, hundreds of miles, behind enemy lines gather intelligence and cause disruption. An example of this is the road watch incredibly dangerous and boring but of enormous value to allied intelligence. Information which could not be gathered in any other way. What it meant to the men who lay in cover within a few hundred yards of the road and recorded vehicle movements for 24 hours at a stint we can barely imagine.
    Brendan O’Carroll has done an excellent job, using large sections of Merlyn Craw’s diary, to bring to life a true picture of this special unit. The book is rich in detail of ‘every day’ life and the equipping and organizing of the ‘trips’ into the desert behind enemy lines. Supporting the text are many special photographs and maps. The ten appendices add even more fascinating detail.
    This gripping story is very highly recommended.

    Pen & Sword Military, 2022
  • The Knights of Islam. The Wars of the Mamluks 1250-1517

    James Waterson
    A truly fascinating book about a very special group of people. James Waterson makes as clear as possible the complex history of the Middle East from 1250-1517 focusing on the Mamluks. So many influences, not least that of religion, were at work over much of Asia which led to considerable flux and conflict. Who was on the move Mongols, Turkomen, Crusaders? Who was leading them? What internal disputes did every group have at what time? For a significant period the Mamluks were unbeatable even when greatly out numbered how was this possible? Their demise is as interesting as their creation and being. This book answers so many important questions which keep the reader interested from cover to cover.
    The well written text is supported by a set of useful maps, some beautiful illustrations and a strong bibliography.
    This is a remarkable book which we highly recommend.

    Greenhill Books, 2021
  • Wellington's Waterloo Allies

    Andrew W. Field
    Here we have a different view of the Waterloo campaign which calls into question many aspects of some previous Anglo-centric views of the battles. Using the national archives of the various nations new light has been shone on the battles at Quatre Bras and Waterloo. This corrective is useful in so much as no one saw the whole battle, every soldier, if their voice could be heard, would give a different view and that also would change as time passed, this is another view.
    This book is a strong reinforcement to more recent thinking about the contribution of the non-British troops to the eventual victory. What is special and particularly valuable is an army officer’s analysis of all aspects e.g. training, equipping etc., of the various national contingents. Understanding of which goes a long way into understanding the actions of the various national contingents. This is incidentally an interesting insight into how different nations organized their army's in the Napoleonic period.
    The text is well supported by maps and charts and makes clear as possible the confusion of the battle fields.
    A good read which we highly recommend.

    Pen & Sword Crime, 2022
  • The Shetland 'Bus'

    Stephen Wynn
    The regular small boat journeys between Norway and the Shetland Islands during the German occupation of Norway in WW2 is a fascinating and often forgotten aspect of the war in northern Europe. This book goes some way to addressing this. An interesting and slightly unexpected book, I was expecting a narrative of the journeys etc, but this book is more useful and of a slightly wider scope than that. It begins with chapters giving overviews of the Shetland Islands during the war and the creation of the Shetland 'Bus' service. These were semi-regular small-boat journeys between the islands and Norway, carrying refugees one way, and agents, weapons and equipment the other, initially using Norwegian fishing vessels, later using specially purposed boats. The book also gives useful overviews of occupied Norway and the Special Operations Executive (the clandestine organisation created to carry out acts of intelligence gathering and sabotage on mainland Europe). What then follows are detailed gazetteer-like entries of the Norwegian Agents who took part in operations, Allied military operations, and finally the boats and crews of the Shetland Bus service itself. A book that is both an interesting read and a valuable reference work for anyone studying 1940's Norway and it's close relation to the Shetlands.
    Pen & Sword Military, 2021