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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 :

  • 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
  • Elizabeth's Sea Dogs and their War against Spain

    Brian Best
    In Brian Best’s book we have all that the title promises. Taking only 185 pages to cover such a rich history it is necessarily a potted account of all the major figures and events. That said we have a really good cover to cover read which doesn’t leave one feeling short changed although it does arouse interest enough to want to explore particular aspects further. Every reader will get something from this book which provokes interest; for me it was the chapter on Military Elizabethans, the men who fought on land and sea.
    The text is complemented with some appropriate illustrations and a brief bibliography.
    We commend this book as one to settle down with and enjoy.

    Frontline Books, 2021
  • A Noble Crusade

    Richard Doherty
    This is the story of the fighting Eighth Army from its creation in 1941 to its disbandment in 1945 . The many levels of action are covered from the strategic thinking which determined its use and its composition, which changed over time, to the individual hero charging a machine gun emplacement. In reading this book one becomes very aware of the changes in the character of their battles from the mile after mile dashes through the desert to the yard by yard slog through Italy. The author draws out the multi-national nature of this ‘British’ army with troops from all over the world from Canada to Poland, the long way round, and even Italians after their country’s capitulation. The index of VCs reflects the multi-national nature; the largest number of VCs being from India and the only double VC of the war was a New Zealander.
    There is an interesting set of photographs, some useful maps and the bibliography is extensive. The research must have been considerable and has resulted in a most readable, at times gripping, story which can be enjoyed by a very wide range of readers.
    After enjoying the book so much it may appear churlish to enter a major criticism but this is the story of less than half the Eighth army. For each man in the firing line there were seven or eight behind the lines, and occasionally in front, enabling the fighter to do his job. For example in the battle of Mareth, when the New Zealanders went through Wilders Gap they were guided by Military Policemen who had been carried well in advance by the LRDG and had signed the route some then stood as individual pointsmen at special places on that route. A chapter on the support Corps would have moved this book from very good to superb.
    Given that caveat we highly recommend it to a wide range of readers.

    Pen & Sword Military, 2020