Recent reviews :
- Hitler's Ardennes Offensive (Danny S Parker Ed.)
- The Irish Guards in the Great War (Rudyard Kipling)
- 21 Days in Normandy (Angelo Caravaggio)
- Battle of the Bulge. The German View (Danny S Parker Ed.)
- Pepy's Navy. Ships, Men and Warfare 1649-1689 (J D Davies)
- Nelson's Navy (Brian Lavery)
- British Cruisers. Two World Wars and After (Norman Friedman)
- Warships of the Napoleonic Era (Robert Gardiner)
- The Very Thing (Jonathan Crook)
- Victory from fighting the Armada to Trafalgar and Beyond (Iain Ballantyne & Jonathan Eastland)
Book reviews for - World War 2
Hitler's Ardennes Offensive
Danny S Parker Ed.
This second book from the same stable [see 'Battle of the Bulge, a German view' reviewed earlier] follows on to deal with the period of attack and its ultimate failure. I felt a privileged and fascinating insight into the Battle of the Bulge. I particularly valued the detail about the attempts to take Bastogne. I have come to realise that the seemingly exaggerated American accounts of the 'glorious defence' are neither exaggerations nor understatements. The book suffers from the same fault as its predecessor in being short on maps, the reader needs a fairly large scale map to fully understand the detail of the manoeuvres. Reading with a map really rewards the effort. Our view is that this a very good piece of work by the editor and is thoroughly recommended to all who who wish to gain greater insights into the Second World War in Europe.
Frontline Books. Pen & Sword Books Ltd., 2016
21 Days in Normandy
A curate's egg of a book. I almost gave up on the first few chapters given the density of information about the twists and turns of Canadian Army politics and then the relationships between and within the overall command. But perseverance paid off and once the description of the actions, including their planning and execution, the book came alive for me. My overall impression of the author's purpose in writing this book i.e. to change any negative view of the 4th Canadian Division is not wholly successful as he shows many failures to be the result of poor decisions by senior officers of the Division. But what it does spell out clearly is the bravery and determination of the lower echelons to get the job done in spite of the odds. I would recommend it for anyone wanting greater knowledge of the early part of the Normandy campaign but start at chapter four and maybe come back to the earlier chapters later.
Pen & Sword Military. Pen & Sword \Books \Ltd., 2016
Battle of the Bulge. The German View
Danny S Parker Ed.
A book both enjoyable and frustrating. Enjoyable because of its insights into the complexity of planning the campaign and for the remarkable different view one gets of Hitler. In my view worth reading for that alone. The content is all meat, no padding, and rich in depth and width. A thoroughly worthy piece of work. The frustration comes with the paucity of maps for which I had to compensate with a much larger scale map. If I were Prime Minister I would make it a law that in any work of fact every place named in the text must appear on a map in the book. Also frustrating was the lack of a glossary. Many German general staff ranks are mentioned in abbreviated form and lots of formation initials are used which one has to reference elsewhere. This detracts from the enjoyment and makes reading in bed difficult. Even with those criticisms I would commend this book to anyone interested in a fuller understanding of how wars/battles are planned or with an interest in the Battle of the Bulge.
Frontline Books. Pen & Sword Books \ltd., 2016
Luck of a Lancaster
Now this is an excellent book. It is ostensibly the career of one Lancaster bomber – W4964 J-Johnny – which managed to survive the war but in fact it is a testament to the lives (and more often deaths) of the RAF heavy bomber crews. It introduces different crews who flew WS-J at different times for No.9 squadron and, through their particular missions and experiences, tells the story of all such crews including the shocking and saddening toll. While W4964 made it through to VE Day, 103 of the 244 men who flew in her at one time did not. The book covers the experience of downed aircrew escaping from France when some former ‘J’ crew are shot down in another bomber. It details the Battle of Berlin in 1943 when the RAF attempted use cunning and technology to reach their targets and quotes the German night-fighter pilots trying to shoot them down. It even covers the hunt for the Tirpitz that W4964 took part in, carrying a Tallboy bomb to try to sink the battleship. Funny, thrilling, fascinating, shocking, sobering and above all, well written. Read this book.
Pen and Sword Aviation, 2013
The BEF in France 1939-1940
John Grehan & Martin Mace
A most interesting compilation of some of the despatches sent by the senior Army and Naval commanders involved. Here presented is the raw material, the facts, as they were seen at that time by those people without the benefit of hindsight to enable them to make any adjustments to the narrative. The material covers some of the initial deployment of the BEF and its eventual evacuations from around Dunkirk and Cherbourg. Warmly recommended with the reservation that one needs either a very good knowledge of the geography of northern France or a large scale map to hand.
Pen & Sword Military, 2014
Secret Flotillas Vol 1 - Clandestine Sea Operations to Brittany 1940-44
Richards, Sir Brook
A fascinating insight into small-boat operations between the British south coast and northern France. This volume covers Breton fishing boats as well as naval motor gun boats and the missions they ran to insert agents, collect/deliver intelligence and pick up down'ed aircrew smuggled to the coast by the resistance. Full of detailed references and anecdotes which begin to give some idea of how information was learned the hard way. Particularly relevant, as the author was himself involved.
Pen & Sword Military, 2012
Nez, Chester & Avila, Judith Schiess
A touching account of both the creation and use of the Navajo code used by the US Marines in the Pacific theatre from one of the original 29 code talkers recruited in 1942. It recounts Chester Nez's involvement in the creation and use of the Navajo code, unfathomable by anyone who wasn't a native speaker and considered impossible to learn, hence unbreakable by the Japanese. But not only is this an account of his and his fellow Navajo specialists' traumatic war from Guadalcanal to Guam and Peleliu. It is also a moving account of life as a Native American child growing up in a harsh land in the 1920's and 30's, caught between two cultures. It deals sensitively with his post traumatic stress disorder on returning from the pacific and his tribal, community approach to dealing with it. Running throughout is a strong sense of faith in the Navajo 'Right Way' of living and of justified pride in the way the native American community contributed to the war effort. A unique account, from one of the originals and highly recommended for anyone studying either the Pacific Theatre of operations or pre-war America.
Berkley Caliber, New York, Oct 2012
Ambrose, Stephen E
The story of a small British Airborne force who landed in France ahead of the main D-Day invasion to capture 2 vital bridges on the east flank of the Normandy landings. Full of first hand accounts, gripping story well written by a well recommended author.
Simon & Schuster, London, 1997
Fighter Pilot; A Personal Record of the Campaign in France 1939 - 1940
Written and published during the Second World War as the personal account of a fighter pilot during the war in France. It is a wonderful book of its time , in the language, the sentiments and the propaganda elements. A real insight.
B. T. Batsford Ltd., 1941
The Pendulum of Battle - Operation Goodwood July 1944
Pen & Sword, 2004
An Improvised War - The Abyssinian Campaign of 1940-1941
Glover , Michael
Michael Glover has with his "Improvised War" filled in the place of Ethiopia in the imperial wars of the 19th century and the global war in the 20th century. The engagements at Magdalla, Amba Alagi, and Adowa lead to the reinforcement of Italian interests in the Horn of Africa and, after the short occupation of British Somaliland in 1940, to the inevitable pincer movement of Allied forces and liberation of the Italian Empire in East Africa in 1941-42. The advance of the East African Forces from Moyale, to Mogadiscio and then to Harar and Addis Ababa serves to emphasise the nature of the country and distances covered. The northern pincer includes the dogged fighting of the Sudan forces around Keren and push into Eritrea supported whole heartedly by Wavell whilst he was under pressure both in the Desert and in Greece. A very satisfying read enhanced by an Allied Order of Battle and a good bibliography.
Leo Cooper, London, 1987
Arnhem - A Tragedy of Errors
Detailed, if tragic, account of Operation Market Garden, Holland 1944. Presents a different viewpoint from the traditional disaster senario, and puts a good case for the defence of XXX corp and the Guards Armoured Division, arguing that they did a good job with the resources and intellegence available at the time. Also that the British 1st Airborne held out much longer than was originally intended. More in a 'Dunkirk' vein, as rescue from the jaws of defeat.
Arms & Armour, 1994
Overlord - D Day and the battle for Normandy
Michael Joseph, 1984
Battlefields of the Second World War
The book to accompany Prof. Holmes' excellent TV series, it covers the battles of Alamein, Monte Cassino and Operation Market Garden as well as the RAF's heavy bomber offensive against Germany.
BBC Worldwide Ltd, 2001
Six Armies in Normandy - From D Day to the Liberation of Paris
Jonathan Cape, 1982
Panzer Division. The Mailed Fist
Macksey, Major K.J.
Well researched text with good supporting maps and illustrations.
Macdonald and Co.[Publishers] Ltd., 1968
Action Stations! The Royal Navy at War
Thursfield, Rear-Admiral H.G.
The book itself is a piece of our history published in the early days of World War II. The text and photographs are what the public ought to know about our navy during wartime. Interesting reading.
Adam & Charles Black, 1941