Book Reviews

A whole new insight into our past, told through 100 remarkable, unforgettable stories. This book, written to keep himself occupied during Lockdown, is a serious attempt by Neil Oliver to piece human history together. We all learned about, say Roman, Greek, African, American, Chinese or European History. This book weaves them all together and makes a sequence which traces the world’s human history through over 4,000 years. Each ‘moment’ forms a chapter of the book. They are all short (ideal...
This is one of those books that does what it says on the cover and does it well. As the editors (for some reason that is not explained they chose not to refer to themselves as authors) are at pains to state, the term “Blitzkrieg” is one invented by the British Press, not the German Wehrmacht. It therefore is meaningless and, in particular, does not refer to a military technique. They then describe the astonishing period from 1939 to 1940, in which the Germans conquered Poland, Norway...
This book was one of the little ‘surprises’ that Auld-Yin sends me periodically. Often they are interesting, sometimes enthralling. Sadly this one does not merit any such description. The author is a lady who having lost a couple of high-powered media executive jobs in London and spent some time unemployed, moved to Hereford and took a menial kitchen role on the camp there. She describes in great detail her unfortunate treatment at the hands of the ‘less intellectual’ staff and managers...
The thrilling story of how nine young women, captured by the Nazis for being part of the Resistance, launched a breathtakingly bold escape and found their way home. As the Second World War raged across Europe, and the Nazi regime tightened its reign of horror and oppression, nine women, some still in their teens, joined the French and Dutch Resistance. Caught out in heroic acts against the brutal occupiers, they were each tortured and sent east into Greater Germany to a concentration camp...
As I read the acknowledgements at the beginning of this book, I was filled with a slight feeling of dread. The author, Tim Saunders, was playing the COVID card, explaining that he hadn't had access to many of the usual sources as he wrote this book, particularly the war diaries and documents held by the National Archives at Kew or at regimental headquarters. This gave the impression the research and resources behind the book were going to be scarce, with a knock-on effect on the quality of...
Lord Alan Brooke was the Chief of the Imperial General Staff (CIGS) throughout the majority of WW2. He was Churchill's key military adviser, yet few, outside of the military or academia, have heard of him. Little has been written about him, specifically, previously and historians writing about Churchill and the other military leaders have tended to gloss over his key input. He was an assiduous diary-keeper, recording his innermost thoughts, at the time only for himself and his wife; when...
Thomas Anderson is a German national and also a specialist in the German armoured fighting vehicles of World War II. He has spent decades trawling through archives in the USA, Germany and the rest of Europe to discover little-known facts and previously unpublished photographs of the might of the Panzerwaffe. A modeller himself, he regularly contributes to popular modelling and historical magazines across the globe, including Military Modecraft Internarional(UK), Steel Art (Italy, Historia...
In this short (173pages) but very informative book Simon Elliot looks into the mystery of the IX Legion, it's broken up into six chapters. The first two give a concise but thorough look into the Roman military and Roman Britain, the next three go into the 3 main theories for the disappearance and the final chapter is the author's conclusion as to what he believes happened. The first two of the theories each set in Britain is the of the legion being destroyed in Britain, possibly in...
The book is slightly mis-titled in that this not only deals with the VC winners but also two men who were awarded the George Cross for actions while PoWs. There were four VCs awarded for the Korean War, 2 to Glosters, 1 to A&SH and one to KOSB. The George Crosses went to Lt Terence Waters, Glosters and Fusilier Derek Kinne, Royal Northumberland Fusiliers. The book starts off with an explanation of the reasons for the war and the run up to it, and then covering the countries that took part...
One of the more interesting questions about the British Army is how it transformed from the formidable entity that triumphed in The First Gulf War (where it was a peer of the US) and defeated the IRA (in the world’s longest and most successful counter insurgency campaign) into a less than reliable ally that failed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Certainly, the Iraq debacle was guaranteed by the (political) failure to plan for the post Saddam stabilisation and handover. The victors of the Troubles...
Seven days in the life of a British soldier. A very small book, just 60 pages in length, covering a week spent in rural south N Ireland, known to all who served there as ‘Bandid Country’ as the PIRA were very active there and the area was mainly Republican. The author served with the Royal Artillery leaving as a SSgt, this is a fictionalised account of a week spent on an observation patrol. The story, background and ending will be well known to anyone who has been there and actually...
In years to come, people who want to know what the British Army was like in the first twenty years of the 21st century will start with Simon Akam’s controversial masterpiece “The Changing of the Guard - The British Army since 9/11”. Stunningly well researched it brings together evidence from a huge number of players at all levels to explain the failures in both Iraq and Afghanistan and is a must read for anyone with an interest in the contemporary British Army. Structured around 5...
A Weekend to Pack. With the first Far East deployment of a Royal Navy Carrier Group in this century it is interesting to take a look back to When Great Britain still had a significant Naval and military presence spread across the globe. This book touches on an aspect of the Second World War that is not often bought into the limelight against a background of vast battles and huge casualties. George Bearman was not a Sailor, Soldier, or Airman. He was something every bit as vital, he was a...
The Cold War Showdown that Shaped the Modern World This book was the result of the author, as a young man, being inspired by his aunt, who had served in Berlin at the end of the Second World War. Although he didn’t believe he listened to her stories of the ruined city and what happened there, some of it must have stuck, as later he spent many months of research, finding that what she had said was true. The result is an intriguing book which tells the story of the criminals, ex-Nazis, black...

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