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Our Book Reviews


In the course of our research, we have found several books useful so we've listed and reviewed them. Select a category to browse the book list, use the form to search for a specific topic, or select from our featured reviews.

If you have read a particularly good book, we would welcome your recommendations too - Send us your book reviews.

Featured reviews :

  • US Military Helicopters (Images of War series)

    Green, Michael
    A treat for anyone who, like me, has a passion for military helicopters, this book is very much what it appears to be, 220 pages full of useful pictures and information on the US Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps's rotor-based aircraft.

    The book is split into 4 main chapters, covering early piston-engined helicopters, later gas-turbine workhorses (like the iconic UH-1 'Huey'), Gunships, and finally, well, everything else! Each chapter starts with a short, utilitarian description of the models covered in that chapter along with their capabilities, dates of service and developments. Then you're into the photos, at least three per double page along with captions that also contain plenty of useful detail. Some are images that you may recognise if you're familiar with the type or theatre of operations mentioned, but there are a good number I've never seen before and the coverage is good, from the earliest R-4B's, through Huey's, Piasecki's, Chinook's, UH-60's, Cobra's and Apaches, to even the V-22 Osprey (tilt-rotor) and the UH-72A Lakota. Reading cover to cover, or just dipping in, for recognition, modelling or simply interest, a great book to have to hand.
    Pen & Sword Aviation, Barnsley, 2017
  • A Scots Grey at Waterloo

    Gareth Glover
    The sub-title on the cover is ‘The Remarkable Story of Sergeant William Clarke’ and that is just what this book is – a truly remarkable story. Clarke has written of his life from being a farm hand until, with the rank of Troop Sergeant Major, he left the regiment in 1825. The language is typical flowery early 19th prose. In the initial chapters much is in the Scots vernacular. Glover warns that the reader may find this challenging. But thanks in large part to Glover’s translations and annotations, which on occasions correct Clarke on matters of fact, I found the style of writing gave authenticity to the text. The whole book is a good read but some sections deserve special mention. The Gypsy King’s tale of his life as a soldier in the Seven Years war is illuminating. The account of the retreat from Quatre Bras is, in its detail, a clear indication of how well it was commanded and executed. What might have been a rout was anything but. Naturally the charge of the Union Brigade figures large and again shows us how every individual in a battle sees only his fight and never the whole battle. The final highlight, full of raw emotion, is Clarke’s description of the killing field as he was one of the regiment’s burial party on the 19th June. For example he reports seeing, among the heap of amputated limbs as he passed the field hospital, a leg which had belonged to a Highlander because it still wore the long socks which accompany the wearing of the kilt.
    At times the book reads like a novel, other times a journal and at other times like the report of a war correspondent; at no time is it dull. The discovery, recognition and publication of an important manuscript are to be applauded.
    I highly recommend it.

    Frontline Books. Pen & Sword Books Ltd., 2017
  • Freeing the Baltic 1918-1920

    Bennet, Geoffrey
    An interesting and unexpected book about an often overlooked conflict in the Baltic states during the confusion following the 1918 armistice.
    It ostensibly follows the Baltic activities of British Navy cruisers and destroyers under the command of Admiral Sir Walter Cowan, but it actually provides a much wider picture of the struggle of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia for independence from Russia. It gives a good overview of the various nationalist forces fighting both the Bolshevik forces and the White Russians under Yudenitch, as well as the ethnic German 'Balts' and the remaining former Imperial German forces under Gen. von der Goltz who himself was attempting to promote German influence in Latvia and it's neighbours. But the main theme of the book is how the Royal Navy, together with some elements of the French attempted to moderate this and stop Bolshevik and German interference.
    At times it is quite 'high-level', but this is understandable, given the scope of the subject. It redeems itself with some good first-hand accounts and detailed engagement descriptions, particularly of the 40 foot, shallow draft motorboats C.M.B.'s which could each carry one or two torpedoes. These small, fast boats managed to infiltrate, under cover of night, right into Kronstadt harbour which protected Petrograd (St Petersburg) and sheltered the pride of the Bolshevik navy, and sink much of it!
    This is a good update of a work originally published in 1964. It includes well researched appendices and some interesting photos of the people and ships involved but more than that, it highlights that for many people, the fighting definitely did not end on the 11th November 1918.
    Pen & Sword Maritime, 2017
  • Marshal Ney at Quatre Bras

    Paul L. Dawson
    Do we need another book about Waterloo? If they are like this we most certainly do. This book is different because of the primary source material researched to create it. The usual story is not trotted out without a fresh critical analysis. Within the book one chapter stands above all others for me and that is chapter 8. The movements of 1st Corps is a tale of mismanagement and confusion and has been a source of conjecture for all who study Quatre Bras. Paul Dawson makes, as clear as possible, the events of the day carefully weighing the evidence for the ultimate actions of the key players. He makes the confusion clear while bewailing the fact that verbal exchanges which could have played an important part on the day are lost to history.
    This is a book for the Waterloo 'aficionado' written in a way which is easily accessible to the general reader.
    I highly recommend this book and at the time of writing look forward to, the soon to be published, Paul Dawson's 'Waterloo. The Truth at Last'.
    Frontline Books. Pen & Sword Books Ltd., 2017
  • The Forgotten War against Napoleon

    Gareth Glover
    Initially I was confused. I'm not sure what I expected but it wasn't this. It didn't seem like a Gareth Glover, a writer I admire immensely. It is about conflicts around the Mediterranean which I knew of and were in no way forgotten. The chapters were short and pithy, with a wealth of footnotes. However once I got into the swing of the book, and it does swing along, I found I was greatly enjoying it. In effect it became a Gareth Glover. It is written in a most readable style with loads of well researched information. The book has 56 chapters, the shortest only one page long, 16 illustrations, all contemporary with the events, and 33 maps.
    For me the true value of this book is that it connects events which are most usually only studied in isolation. What the author has demonstrated is the inter-connection between seeming disparate events. The connection coming about because they are on or of the Mediterranean.
    When I finished this book I was sorry it wasn't longer. It is a tour de force and reminded me of areas which I now want to revisit and to read more about in greater detail. It is an excellent overview. The only thing wrong with it is the title.

    Pen & Sword Military. Pen & Sword \Books \Ltd., 2017