Ministry of Defence
Ministry of Defence

Lest We Forget
British Legion
The Royal British Legion

2005
Section 3

Book Review by Michael D Booker
(June 2005)

 

THE WARLORDS
Hindenburg and Ludendorf


Author: John Lee

Publisher: Weidenfield & Nicholson
The Orion Publishing Group Ltd
Orion House
5 Upper Saint Martin’s Lane
London WC2H 9EA

ISBN: 0 297 84675 2

Published in 2005

UK Price: £16.99

Telling the rare and fascinating story of the Germany’s Great War with emphasis on the men who actually ran the country, this superb book looks at famous battles from the German perspective and as seen through the eyes of the generals who actually fought against the allies. It is therefore quite unique and will, I am sure be invaluable to both military historians and Great War enthusiasts.

“The Warlords” - Paul Von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorf were two of the most talented generals ever known and their successes in the Great War are now considered “legendary”. Jointly forming the Third Supreme Command when Falkenhayn resigned in 1916, they quickly rose to power. Along with a number of senior army officers and several leading industrialists, they later went on to effectively run Germany as a military dictatorship in the final years of the war. Their power in a country geared up to the war effort was immense, often meddling in affairs of state, they not only controlled the army, but industry too and were heavily involved in the distribution of food, together with the organisation and operation of transport systems as well - therefore having an influence on the overall economy of the country! There is no doubt that these remarkable men had an iron-grip on the nation, however it is thought their Prussian values may have actually led Germany towards starvation, which in turn resulted in strikes and civil unrest which perhaps unrealised at the time, actually laid the foundations for further global conflict some twenty years later.

The superb narrative is supported with many excellent photographs of the key personalities involved, together with troops in the trenches etc. A series of very useful maps is also included and therefore at just £16.99 is a very useful addition to any Great War collection.

Photos trench warfare, armaments factories, personalities. Several maps

Book Review by Michael D Booker
(July 2005)

 

CASSINO


Author: Ian Blackwell

Publisher: Pen and Sword
47 Church Street
Barnsley
South Yorkshire S70 2AS

ISBN: 1 84415 235 9

Published in 2005

UK Price: £9.99

This latest title in Pen and Sword’s excellent Battleground Europe series, provides the reader with a fascinating account of the Second World War, four phase battle for the Italian town of Monte Cassino, during the period between January and March 1944.

Situated in a key location on the Nazi’s strategic and much fortified Gustav Line, Monte Cassino blocked the Allied swift advance into Rome and as a result, the now world famous mountain top monastery, was defended by some of Germany’s most elite troops. Taking control of this important position, resulted in this being the scene of fierce fighting involving forces from the USA., Poland, France, Britain and the Commonwealth.

At the end of the battle, the monastery and town were sadly left in ruins and the tragic loss of life on both sides was considerable. Completely re-built, Monte Cassino is today, a popular destination for tourists of all nationalities and anyone considering visiting there, or wishing to learn more about the actual battle itself, will I am sure, benefit immensely from this superb publication. In the usual Battleground Europe Series style, the author has paid great attention to detail and as a result, has produced a volume containing a wealth of fascinating information relating to both the planning and execution of the battle and the reason for failure. Excellent colour as well as black and white archive photographs are included too, along with unique aerial views and maps of the area.

Students of military history and family history researchers will thoroughly enjoy the publication and battlefield guides and tourists alike, will be grateful for the author’s splendid guide / suggested tours of the battlefield.

Book Review by Michael D Booker
(June 2005)

Dieppe
Operation Jubilee –Channel Ports


Author: Tim Saunders

Publisher: Pen and Sword
47 Church Street
Barnsley
South Yorkshire S70 2AS

ISBN: 1 84415 245 6

Published in 2005

UK Price: £12.99

In Spring of 1942, the outlook for the Allies certainly appeared to be rather grim. The German army had penetrated deep into Russia, our forces faced the enemy just across the Channel and the Eighth Army had been pushed back into Egypt.

Despite the fact that the Allies were not ready to mount an invasion of mainland Europe at this time, they were keen test new techniques and equipment as well as gaining more experience in amphibious assaults. They therefore decided to mount the major raid on the French channel port of Dieppe, with the intention of achieving these aims together with forcing the Germans to move troops to the west and take the pressure off the Russians.

The original plan (Operation Rutter) was to the launch attack in the July of 1942, however when the weather became unfavourable, the raid was called off. It was not re-initiated until the 19th August that year, when it went ahead in the early hours of the morning and involving over 6000 Allied troops, 8 destroyers and numerous other warships and over 70 air squadrons under the new code name – “Operation Jubilee”.

The operation was unfortunately a short lived disaster and by late morning of that same day, it was all over!

Even up until today, the value of this raid is still the subject for much discussion, many claim it was a tragic waste of valuable men and resources, as there were nearly 4000 casualties. 900 Canadians lost their lives and just under 2000 were taken Prisoner of War! On the positive side however, it is certain valuable lessons were learnt and the improvements made to tactics and equipment, were to prove invaluable in later years and the much more successful invasion on D-Day.

I have to say that I am a great fan of the Battleground Europe series of books. Without making this review sound like an advert, I consider these handy volumes (ideal for taking on tour), represent excellent value for money. They are always packed full of very readable and fascinating information and normally include many superb archive photographs (often published for the first time), together with a good selection of high quality maps and diagrams as well as suggested tours of the battlefield area itself. This title is no exception and from the moment I picked it up, until I read the last word, I was engrossed and therefore feel sure that anyone interested in this particular operation or the Second World War in general will find it as interesting as I did.

Book Review by Michael D Booker
(August 2005)

CROSSING THE BUFFALO
THE ZULU WAR OF 1879


Author: Adrian Greaves

Publisher: Weidenfield & Nicholson
The Orion Publishing Group Ltd
Orion House
5 Upper Saint Martin’s Lane
London WC2H 9EA

ISBN: 0297847007

Published in June 2005

UK Price: £25.00

Having established their nation early in the nineteenth century, the Shaka Zulu was perhaps one of the most sophisticated and powerful tribal groups in South East Africa and despite popular belief, had no quarrel with our colonial ancestors, however the British leaders at that time could not conceive them as anything other than a threat and it is due to this distrust, that our forces crossed the Buffalo River and subsequently embarked on a war, that was to damage the entire foundations of the British Empire.

Numerous books have already been written on the famous battles at Isandlwana and Rork’s Drift and therefore the events in South Africa at that time, are now legendary and as a result, created worldwide interest in this, what many describe as one of the most interesting periods in our history. What makes this splendid volume different from the others is the fact that as well as being packed to the hilt with extraordinary tales of heroism shown by both sides during the campaign, this splendid new volume also includes up to date ground-breaking information, that will in the words of the author make this title “ replace all standard works” already published on this fascinating subject!

The author of this excellent work is without a doubt an expert , who as well as devoting much of his time to the study of this fascinating campaign, regularly leads tours to the battlefields himself and finds time to edit the Journal of the Anglo – Zulu War Society. He has carried out painstaking and original research and has succeeded in providing the reader with a complete history of the Zulus, whilst at the same time, explaining how the British won absolute rule in South Africa. The many splendid photographs and copies of engravings, together, with maps and diagrams certainly enhance the publication and the excellent glossary of Zulu terms and a list of gallantry awards made during this campaign also included, provide an added bonus, making this excellent publication and a must read for anyone from the expert and researcher alike, through to those with just the slightest interest in our history.

Book Review by Michael D Booker
(June 2005)

FORGOTTEN VOICES OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR

Author: Max Arthur

Publisher: EBURY PRESS
RANDOM HOUSE
20 VAUXHALL BRIDGE ROAD
LONDON SW1V 2SA

ISBN: 0091897351

Published: 2004

UK Price: £7.99

The great news for those who enjoyed the highly successful Forgotten Voices of the Great War, is that Max Arthur has once again returned to the very impressive Sound Archive at the Imperial War Museum, to research and transcribe some of the most fascinating Second World War material available, on which to base this, his latest book .

Covering just about every major event and campaign that took place during the period between 1939-1945, this excellent volume features an extensive collection of eye-witness and often graphic accounts, recalling the personal experiences of scores of men and women, who served in the armed forces during the World War 2. Civilians, both at home and abroad, along with allies and enemies alike, recorded their experiences too, making this a truly remarkable, unique and most moving publication.

From a personal point of view, this book is a invaluable addition to my own library. I am certain, researchers, lecturers/ teachers and battlefield guides will often wish refer to it and quote from it too, both in the classroom or on tour, as it will add a new dimension to their presentations. I can honestly say, this is one publication that anyone, from the military expert, through to the casual reader with just the slightest interest in the Second World War will want to read and of course keep it, as it will be of significant future historical importance! Now available in paperback at £7.99 and hardback at £19.99, I hear it is also hear it will soon be on sale in both audio tape and CD formats – what more can you want!

Book Review by Michael D Booker
(July 2005)

 

Trafalgar
The Biography of a Battle


Author: Roy Adkins

Publisher: Abacus
A Time Warner Book Group Company
Brettenham Place
London WC2E 7EN

www.twbg.co.uk

ISBN: 0349116326

Published in May 2005

UK Price: £8.99

Despite the fact that Lord (Horatio) Nelson – Britain’s most famous Admiral ever, together with a further 449 seamen were killed in this bloody maritime conflict, fought between the Royal Navy and the combined French and Spanish Fleets off the coast of Spain, Trafalgar has gone down in history as our nation’s greatest ever victory at sea.

Therefore, as we approach the 200th anniversary of this famous event in October this year, there are many celebrations and exhibitions marking the occasion and as a result, stimulating much interest in this fascinating subject.

This very excellent publication is a magnificent and most fitting tribute to the men and ships which fought in this battle. It provides the reader with a wealth of information on the battle itself, together a host of other fascinating detail on life at sea at that time. The way in which the men were recruited, the conditions in which they lived, the food they ate, the medical attention they received and details of the clothes they wore together with information on organisation of the Royal Navy in general, are all covered in a most informative manner and therefore, I am sure this book will provide the reader with a useful reference book and a unique souvenir of the bi-centenary celebrations.

I have no doubts as to the usefulness of this brilliant publication and would certainly recommend it to any students of naval history, serving Royal Navy or Royal Marine personnel, family history researchers together with anyone who like a thoroughly good read and at just £8.99, this handy sized paperback is unbelievable value for money!

6 September 2005

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