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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 :

  • 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
  • Gurkha Odyssey

    Peter Duffell
    An odyssey is a long eventful journey and an appropriate title for this book. The story is of the author’s journey with and in the Gurkha ‘family’. The manner of its telling, in the main, is like a dinner party conversation with an excellent raconteur. In the telling not only do we see the Gurkhas but we see the author. Peter Duffell is a fighting man both with his men in the jungles of Borneo and for his men in the corridors of Whitehall. The period covered is from the early 1960s to 2018 with some coverage of early history. The unit focused on is the 2nd Gurkhas and therefore sadly does not include the Gurkha contribution to the Falklands war [7th Gurkhas].
    The book is well illustrated with a dozen pages of colour plates and some super Ken Howard drawings. Nine maps, all with scales, help in the telling of the journey. There is more to Gurkha history than told here and this book is a taster which will leave you wanting to find out more.
    Gurkha Odyssey is a most enjoyable cover to cover read which we highly recommend.

    Pen & Sword Military, 2019
  • British Submarines in Two World Wars

    Norman Friedman
    This book was a real eye opener for me. I thought I knew quite a lot about submarines but my knowledge paled into insignificance when found the wealth of information before me. Here is a book that tells you all you need to know about submarines. One could probably build a period submarine with little more than the plans and descriptions here laid out. But the book is more than a technical manual. The thinking and attitudes which under pinned the planning and the execution of the Royal Navy’s submarine strategy are well described. The inter-war years are particularly fascinating in this respect. The vessels themselves and the thinking behind them range from the actual through the practical and onto the weird and wonderful. Many things caught my eye and imagination among which were beam firing torpedoes, a large submarine cruiser mounting 6 x 6” guns, some very strange and ugly hull forms, and an aircraft carrying submarine which was built but never went into service. There is also a special mention for the only action in which a submarine has torpedoed another while both were submerged.
    This is a large book, 295 mm by 250 mm portrait with 429 pages. There are many photographs, about one per page in total, all appropriately annotated. There are many reproductions of technical drawings from the National Maritime Museum and numerous superb John Lambert drawings. There are also two three page and one four page spread of whole ship drawings from the NMM. It is clearly the product of a massive amount of research written up in a very readable style. However I would caution against cover-to-cover reading unless you can absorb facts at a very high rate. There is no dross, ‘all meat and no gravy’ as my grandfather would say.
    This is a rather special book and we highly recommend it.

    Seaforth Publishing, 2019