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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 :

  • Marching Fighting Dying.

    Gareth Glover
    This is a super read and those who, like me, are Gareth Glover fans will welcome this as a classic. The author has undertaken wide ranging research into primary sources and most of the text consists of excerpts from letters home from the Peninsular. There is very little about the battles as the bulk of the book is about activities off the battlefield e.g. the journey by ship or the entertainment when in winter quarters. The stories are entertaining and fascinating and lead one to gain a deeper insight into life in Wellington’s army. Here is the unvarnished detail of what the troops did and felt about it.
    It would be enough to be an ‘interesting’ book but it is more important than just that. The substance of the correspondence brings into question many previously held ‘understandings’ of soldiering in the Napoleonic wars. The brief concluding paragraphs to each chapter and the summary Conclusion chapter are valuable correctors to many ‘widely accepted views’. This book is a big step towards historical truth.
    We highly recommend it to all levels of readership.

    Pen & Sword Military, 2021
  • Wellington's Cavalry and Technical Corps, 1800-1815

    Gabriele Esposito
    At last we have the companion to Wellington’s Infantry by Gabriele Esposito [reviewed elsewhere on this site]. This book covers the Cavalry and Technical Corps 1800 to 1815 and includes the artillery arm. Naturally in a book of 130 pages the coverage of each unit is slight but sufficient, to build an overview of a whole wing of the army. The content is not confined to British troops but also covers foreign troops in British service and this includes the Kings German Legion.
    The many illustrations showing a range of uniforms of different units are really excellent and the bibliography points the reader to further reading.
    Bear in mind that the whole army is the subject and content is not limited to those who came under Wellington’s zone of command. Enjoy a jolly interesting read and put this book into your reference section for dipping into as the need arises or when you just feel like looking at some superb illustrations.
    We strongly recommend this book.

    Pen & Sword Military, 2021
  • Eben-Emael & the Defence of Fortress Belgium 1940

    Clayton Donnell
    A well told, detailed story of dogged determination and immense courage of elements of the Belgian army. This is a must read for anyone wanting to understand the beginning of World War Two. The forts of Liege and Namur significantly contributed by their damaging effect on the Blitzkrieg. The last of the forts to surrender fell while the evacuation of the British from Dunkirk was in progress such was their tenacity.
    The maps and illustrations are all of the same high standard as the text. The full glossary, list of abbreviations and equivalent ranks further aid the readers understanding. The main title is less than the book deserves as this book is about the full works of fortress Belgium.
    We highly recommend Clayton Donnell’s work to you.

    Pen & Sword Military, 2021
  • Wellington and the Vitoria Campaign

    Carole Dival
    This book tells the story of a defeated, demoralized rabble turned round to become, in Wellington’s own opinion, ‘never a finer army’. The rebuild came through the restoration of discipline and morale largely by giving the troops rest, recuperation and logistic support in food and clothing. This was followed by intense training. Only then came the advance towards Vitoria. Wellington’s careful planning of the positioning of his army columns consistently wrong footing the French. Also his use of Portuguese and Spanish troops in a more integrated way strengthened his manoeuvres. Recording this could have resulted in a very dry book but the lively writing and the use of first-hand accounts from Allies and French troops makes it most readable and understandable.
    The text is supported by five very good maps of the campaign and one map of the battlefield. The battlefield map has some faults in that it shows Soult as commanding the Army of the South and it does not show all the places named in the text. For a fluid battle like Vitoria three or four maps showing the development would have been welcome. There is also a nice set of illustrations including the major protagonists. Six very useful appendices showing strengths and casualties round up the information.
    The value of this book is in the description of the whole campaign while the battle description gives a real flavour of a Peninsular battlefield. We recommend this very good read to a wide audience.

    Pen & Sword Military, 2021
  • Roman Conquests: Britain

    Simon Elliot
    Here we have a super overview of a complex series of events presented in a most readable manner. The vast majority of the content is confined to the shores of Britain but there is sufficient material to give Britain a context within the wider Roman world. Among the general information is a running commentary on the changes within the Roman military over the period of the occupation of Britannia. The main invasion leading to settlement is of course dealt with in detail. The later attempts to expand to cover the whole of the mainland are also explained. The whole island was never conquered and this directly resulted in the necessary continuing presence of a significant military force. Perhaps the most telling sentence which came out of the author’s research is the fact that 12 per cent of Roman military establishment was in 4 per cent of its geographic area. This book goes a long way to explaining why. The gradual end of Roman occupation is set in the context of the decline of the whole empire brought about in no small part by the infighting of would be Caesars. Many uprisings began in Britain and in the process removed valuable troops to support the leader’s claims on the continent.
    There is a very good set of illustrations but the reader is expected to know the geography of Britain and its immediate neighbours as there is not a single map. The timeline and the bibliography are both great supports to the reader wanting to know more in detail. [Simon Elliot's book on Roman Britain's Missing Legion reviewed on this site is a case in point]
    This book is a good stand alone read and a valuable jumping off point for those who want more. We highly recommend it.

    Pen & Sword Military, 2021