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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 :

  • The Cyprus Emergency

    Nick van der Bijl
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book covering, as it does, both the political and the military aspects of the Cyprus ‘troubles’ from 1955 to 1974. The narrative flows from event to event with little comment or opinion allowing the reader to understand the series of cause-and-effect which brought the island to its present state. There are three good maps and a set of photographs which well illustrate the text.
    I should here declare a deep personal interest as I served in Cyprus during the Emergency, 1958-61, and for a while was part of the security team at Government house. It is a slightly odd experience to look at a photograph in a ‘history’ book and to know that one was there standing in the next room. Also, to read about incidents in which one was involved including the death of a close comrade. The author perfectly captures the changes felt by the ‘boots on the ground’ when Hugh Foot became Governor and Major-General Kendrew was replaced by Major-General Darling as Director of Operations. Although I found that the book was a little uncomfortable in parts to read about intelligence and security failings, all accurately conveyed by the author, which we should have known at the time.
    According to my experience the book ‘rings true’ and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone interested in the history of our time and especially all those young National Servicemen who got their knees brown during the Cyprus Emergency.

    Pen and Sword Military, 2018
  • Battle on the Seven Seas

    Gary Staff
    Here we have a good read, a narrative of the German cruiser battles 1914-1918, with lots of quotes from the people who were there. Battle locations are world wide from the Pacific to the Black Sea with both global strategy and engagement tactics described. The account of the battle of Jutland, Skagerrak to the Germans, with its focus on the cruisers, is refreshingly different to the usual version of events. Also there are some excellent photographs of the warships including some uncommon ones showing battle damage.
    Three things stop this book from being excellent. The first is my very regular complaint about maps. There is an absence of scales on most of the many maps [28 maps only 2 with scales], and a few with too much information which is confusing. However, the six maps which cover the phases of the battle of Jutland are most helpful.
    The second is an absence of any detailed description of the ships involved, and I had to turn to my Jane’s Fighting ships of WW1 to get a real understanding of the comparative worth of opposing vessels. A drawing and a specification of each class of cruiser would have been of great help to the general reader. And lastly a glossary of technical terms and abbreviations used, including translations of the many German terms, would have been more than helpful. The addition of these things to the 232 pages would not have made the book unmanageable.
    In spite of those criticisms I still think this is a book well worth reading by anyone with an interest in World War One at sea.

    Pen & Sword MARITIME, 2018
  • 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