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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 :

  • Messines 1917

    Craig Deayton
    Craig Deaton tells the story of the Anzacs attack on the Messines Ridge on the 7th June 1917. An attack which began with the greatest explosion of mines ever executed, continued with the rapid achievement of the first objective and then dissolved into a chaotic bloodbath gaining the final objectives. The story moves seamlessly between the micro to the macro within a few paragraphs without any confusion to the reader. We see the role and hear the voice of the General and the private.
    This is a super read for anyone wanting to gain insight into the very essence of the First World war. There is brilliant staff work contrasting with the appalling blunders by senior officers. There are expectations of command which are beyond reason and there are achievements beyond possible. There is the heroism, occasionally amounting to suicidal actions, among men and especially among front line officers. There is compassion and savagery, carrying a wounded comrade back to safety under fire contrasting with the shooting of enemy soldiers who had surrendered.
    There are very many photographs scattered throughout the text and contemporary maps at the appropriate points. Here is my usual complaint about most modern books, there are not sufficient maps with scales and keys. A picture is worth a thousand words and so is a good map.
    What Craig Deayton cannot be faulted on are the appendices, the endnotes, the bibliography and the index all of which are of great help to the reader and point to the massive amount of research which has gone into the writing of this book.
    Clash-of-Steel thoroughly recommends this book.

    Pen & Sword Military. Pen & Sword \Books \Ltd., 2018
  • Culloden 1746

    Stuart Reid
    This book is not simply a guide to the battlefield it does much more. The first six chapters are an excellent account of the development of the battle, chapter seven compares the two armies, their similarities and differences, while the final chapter gives advice and guidance on visiting the battle field today. There is an abundance of photographs and drawings, I particularly like the contemporary sketches of individuals engaged in the battle. The twelve maps of the battlefield, each a double page spread and all on the same template, show the movement of the forces. The map of the battlefield today is also on that template. This is a super idea allowing the reader to make immediate comparisons without having to adjust for scale or displacement.
    This, the third edition of this book, has been updated to take in the latest archaeological and documentary discoveries. It remains a slim volume of 156 pages and therefore is of ideal size to slip into a rucksack for a visit to the battlefield.
    Whether visiting the battlefield or just wanting to read a straightforward introduction to the battle this book is highly recommended.

    Pen & Sword Military. Pen & Sword \Books \Ltd., 2018
  • A Short History of 7th Armoured Division

    Captains M. Lindsay, M.E.Johnston & N.B.Harris
    There are other books about the 7th Armoured Division but non so genuine. This book was written by two serving officers and the photographs sourced by another. It covers the period from June 1943 until July 1945 and was completed and printed by the British Army of the Rhine before the Division was disbanded. The map cover is extraordinarily good being eleven large separate sheets contained in a folder at the end of the book. The reader can readily refer to the appropriate map while reading the text. This is not just a good book it is a great book due in large part to its authenticity and its insights; it is is not all dry facts but speeds along with the Desert Rats with humour and sorrow as appropriate to the action.
    Churchill said, of the story of the Desert Rats, ‘May the fathers long tell the children about this tale.’ One cannot but agreed.

    British Army of the Rhine, July 1945
  • The Story of the 79th Armoured Division

    serving officers
    This book opens with an apology. The Author says that because the book was produced in a hurry just as the war was ending some actions may have been missed out. It was written by serving officers for the officers and men who had served and were serving in the units of the 79th Armoured Division. It covers the period October 1942 until June 1945 and was printed in Hamburg in July 1945. The Author may have felt the need to apologize to comrades whose actions were not included, but he has no need to apologize to the modern reader. The whole narrative reads as a fascinating, detailed account of the actions of this very special division. The text is well supported by photographs and maps. The maps are worthy of special attention being generously distributed through the book on pages which fold out and some have tracing paper showing unit movements as overlays. Not something one would expect to find in a modern publication. All in all, this is a real gem of a book, excellent despite the haste of its publication. It would provide a firm foundation for a modern author wishing to give greater access to these brave men in their specialized fighting vehicles.
    Not lnown, July 1945
  • Russian Eyewitness Accounts of the Campaign of 1814

    Alexander Mikaberidze
    Did you know that when Alexander, Tsar of Russia, during the invasion of France in 1814, gave an Imperial banquet an arc of wood was cut from the table to accommodate the enormous stomach of the King of Württemberg. Furthermore, in 1814, the Swiss did not remove their hats while eating lunch. I was unaware of both of these facts before I read this remarkable book. The author has brought together a massive collection of first hand accounts written by Russians who took part in the 1814 campaign which culminated with the downfall of Napoleon. Some accounts are barely more than one page, others run into many pages. Some are exciting with the cut and thrust of battle. One, not so exciting, is a ‘boring’ daily diary chronicling moving and halting for nine days in the course of which the writer covered 200km forward and back! It really does bring home the reality of Napoleonic soldiering. There are many references to looking for food, fodder and a place to rest indoors if possible because this was January in north-western France with ice floes on the rivers destroying pontoon bridges. In a number of cases there are conflicting views of the same event reinforcing the notion that no two people on the same battlefield see the same battle.
    There are only two maps, a few good illustrations and nearly 300 pages that are well worth reading.
    Thoroughly recommended.

    Frontline Books. Pen & Sword Books Ltd., 2013