books monthly november 2017 Pen & Sword

More than thirty stunning new books from Pen and Sword, including the fourth volume in the Great War Illustrated series...

Home Page

Acker Bilk Sleeve Notes

Adult Fiction

  Crime and Thrillers
  Science Fiction & Fantasy
  Crime and Thrillers

  Children's books

  Nonfiction & Reference

New from Pen and Sword...

  The Nostalgia Page

  The Jerry Dowlen Column

 

Major & Mrs Holt's Guide to Ypres Salient & Passchendaele

Published by Pen & Sword 5th September 2017

This is the most complete guide to the First World War Battlefield of Ypres that has ever been published. Renowned authors Tonie and Valmai Holt have condensed the knowledge gained from almost a quarter of a century of researching, writing about, visiting and conducting groups around Ypres into this remarkable book. Here are concise descriptions of the military elements of the battles woven into a kaleidoscope of human, literary and travel information.

There are recommended, timed itineraries, with each itinerary representing one day's travelling. Every stop on the routes has an accompanying description and often a tale of heroic or tragic action.

Memorials large and small, private and official, sites of memorable conflict, the resting places of personalities of note – they are all here and joined together by a sympathetic and understanding commentary that gives the reader a sensitivity toward the events of 1914-1918 that can only be matched by visiting the battlefield itself.

A brand new edition of the Holts's guide to Passchendaele and the Ypres Salient, the original and best introduction and guide to the battlefields of the Western Front. A truly inspirational and amazing book that has prompted so many people to ake the pilgrimage to see where there ancestors lived and died.

 

 

 

 

 

Book of the Month - William Langford & Jack Holroyd: The Great War Illustrated 1917

Published by Pen and Sword 18th September 2017

Fourth in a series of five titles which will cover each year of the war graphically. Countless thousands of pictures were taken by photographers on all sides during the First World War. These pictures appeared in the magazines, journals and newspapers of the time. Some illustrations went on to become part of post-war archives and have appeared, and continue to appear, in present-day publications and TV documentary programmes - many did not. The Great War Illustrated series, beginning with the year 1914, will include in its pages many rarely seen images with individual numbers allocated, and subsequently they will be lodged with the Taylor Library Archive for use by editors and authors. The Great War Illustrated 1917 covers the battles at Arras, Passchendaele and Cambrai, the use of aviation and the role of the tanks. Some images will be familiar, and many will be seen for the first time by a new generation interested in the months that changed the world for ever.
 

The 1917 volume of this ground breaking series contains 1,000 images from the Great War, with a middle section in full colour. Many of the photographs will have been seen before by varius people in a number of books, but their collection in this magnificent volume is its own tribute to the men who were sacrificed by the generals in a war that was meant to end in December 1914. Moving and thought provoking at the same time, and certainly not for the faint-hearted! A fitting tribute in every sense.

 

Philip Kaplan: The Sitfire - An Icon of the Skies

Published by Pen and Sword 24th August 2017

The magnificent Vickers Supermarine Spitfire, together with its able partner the Hawker Hurricane, saved Britain from Nazi invasion in the summer of 1940 and irrevocably changed the course of the Second World War. This new book from Philip Kaplan celebrates one of history's most important weapons in a glorious new light. A British national icon, the Spitfire is the best-known symbol of the war years for generations of Britons. From the deep, haunting growl of its Rolls-Royce engine, to the elegant style of its elliptical wing, it is perhaps the most famous and revered combat aeroplane ever built. Kaplan investigates just what it is that fuels the Spitfire's compelling mystique. During wartime, it held an unrivalled reputation amongst Allied and Axis airmen. Today, it continues to hold aviation enthusiasts in thrall. Kaplan highlights the immeasurable contributions of Spitfire designers Reginald J. Mitchell and Joseph Smith, test pilots Jeffrey Quill, Mutt Summers and Alex Henshaw, and ace Spitfire pilots including Al Deere, Sailor Malan and Pierre Clostermann. All added to the legend of this lovely, but deadly, little fighter. The origin and evolution of the plane are tracked, and the story of the marvellous Merlin engine that powered so many Spitfires through those challenging war years and beyond is brought to life. Kaplan considers the phenomenon of the burgeoning warbird movement, a worldwide effort to restore, preserve and display scores of Spitfires and many other military aircraft types for hundreds of thousands of air show visitors the world over. There are only a few airworthy Mark I Spitfires today and this book centres round the Mk Ia AR213, whose total restoration to flying status was completed in 2008\. Much of its colourful background is described, as is the experience of flying it, in the words of both Tony Bianchi and Jonathan Whaley, who have flown it for many years and, arguably, know it better than anyone. In this, the eighth decade of Mitchell's brilliant fighter, Spitfire: An Icon of the Skies is dedicated to the craftsmen and women who built it.

 

Possibly the most iconic of all of the WW2 fighter planes, this is an amazing tribute to the people who designed, built and flew it - a comprehensive history of one of the most beautiful aircraft ever manufactured.

Lance Cole: The Classic Car Adventure

Published by Pen and Sword 30th September 2016

Nothing is new under the sun and classic cars books come and go. But here, instead of a heavy, large, glossy book of classic car images and details destined to stay on a shelf, is something new. This book is designed to be read as a companion, a book that can go in the car or on a 'plane, and which can be read in full, or dipped into anywhere for a classic car fix. Old stories and new details are presented and cover all eras of our cars. Gathered here is a compilation of the author's published and unpublished adventures and opinions about the design and the driving of some of the greatest cars in motoring history. From 'vintagent' to 'modern classic', pristine to oily-rag, up hill, down dale and across continents, award-winning motoring author, designer and serial classic car owner, Lance Cole, charts the great classic car enthusiasm in a series of engaging essays about cars, car design and the men that made the motor industry. From tales of Malcolm Sayer to Bedelia, and of BMW, Jaguar, Bugatti and Porsche, to tales of old Saabs and rusty Citroens, classic car life is here. Erik Carlsson, Jacques Gerin, Giovanni Michelotti and Innes Ireland are just a few of the names that can be found in these pages. From design to driving, here is a book that is a classic car adventure.

 

This amazing book is a tour de force examination of a range of fantastic super cars - a journey through classic designs and performance, peppered with suitably amazing photographs. A celebration of motoring quite unlike anything I've ever seen before! Priceless!

 

Villager Jim's Moorland Wildlife

Published by Pen and Sword 13th September 2017

Villager Jim, the famous Peak District photographer, takes us on a journey to his very favourite places on the moors surrounding the Peak District National Park, where he lives. From wonderful wild deer to breathtaking buzzards and other birds of prey, Jim allows us a glimpse of his daily moorland travels with all the abundant wildlife that lives in that part of the world. Jim often concedes that it is his most favourite place on earth, being out alone with his camera within this unforgiving landscape, watching the sun rise on the horizon, whilst at the same time, seeing stags wander, grazing on the moorland. It is here also that many of his favourite birds of prey abound. And, of course, he is there to capture the beautiful landscape shots rolling in mists or washed in the golden light of dawn.

 

This is the second collection of photographs by Villager Jim published by Pen and Sword - this man has a natural affinity with the natural world that encourages the animals he encounters to "pose" for him and his amazing camera work. A superb look at life in Villager Jim's back yard and surrounding countryside. The photographs are amazing!

Alison Eatwell: Cruime, Clemency and Consequences in Britain 1821-1839

Published by Pen and Sword 30th September 2017

From the woman who steals a cloak, to the highwayman and the middle-class forger, this book allows us a glimpse of the rich mix of criminals, their crimes and sentences, in early 19th Century Britain. With no statutory right of appeal against either the verdict or sentence at this time, the prisoner's only hope for relief was to petition the Crown for mercy via the Home Office, and with sentences including death and transportation, the stakes were high. The petitioner's objective was to prove the prisoner worthy of mercy, usually by establishing their respectability, and it is upon these petitions this book draws. Many of the thousands of petitions, held by the National Archives in Kew, reveal fascinating incidental information about the prisoner's personal life or circumstances which cannot be found in other records. The supporting documentation, witness depositions or character references, often give us rare details of everyday routines, working conditions, illnesses, relationships, and life in a locality. As cases are followed in this book, some far beyond the Home Secretary's decision, the criminals, supporters, prosecutors and judiciary are brought to life, occasionally with surprising results. Read as individual cases, each subject is fascinating; viewed together, the collection reveals a unique, intimate and vivid insight in to life in 1820s and 1830s Britain.

 

Alison's examination of the criminal justice system in Great Britain in the early years of the nineteenth century makes for a fascinating read. If only some of the penalties were still available to the judges and magistrates today! Sometimes I feel that the prison reformers have erred too far on the side of the miscreants... a superb book.

 

David Maidment: The German Pacific Locomotive

Published by Pen and Sword 30th August 2017

The German Pacific Locomotive (Its Design and Development) is David Maidments' fourth book in the series of Locomotive Profiles published by Pen & Sword. It is the first in the series to tackle an important range of overseas steam locomotives, the German pacific locomotives, which, with the Paris-Orleans pacific in France, were the first of that wheel layout in Europe and came to be the dominant type for express passenger work throughout Western Europe for the following fifty years, until displaced by diesel and electric traction. The German railways in the first two decades of the twentieth century were run principally as regional State railways, and two distinct styles of design developed, which were influenced by the natural terrain. In the south, in the mountainous foothills of the European Alps, four cylinder compound locomotives with comparatively small coupled wheels, most produced by the famous firm of Maffei in Munich, held sway from 1907 until the late 1930s, and in parts of Bavaria that were not yet electrified, even until the early 1960s. In the flatter lands of the north, Prussian 4-6-0s sufficed until Paul Wagners standard two cylinder simple pacifics came onto the scene in 1925, and were followed by the three cylinder streamlined pacifics at the start of the Second World War. After addressing the devastating damage to the German railways in the conflict, the book follows the modernisation of the locomotive fleet in the post-war period until the elimination of steam in both East and West Germany in the mid-late 1970s. The book describes the design, construction and operation of the full range of pacifics that ran in both parts of Germany, and the large numbers of these locomotives that have been preserved, and is illustrated with over 180 black and white and 80 colour photos.

 

An intiate and fascinating look at the German Pacific Locomotives. Enthusiasts will be suitably impressed, and the photographs are amazing!

 

Peter Stone: The History of the Port of London

Published by Pen and Sword 30th August 2017

The River Thames has been integral to the prosperity of London since Roman times. Explorers sailed away on voyages of discovery to distant lands. Colonies were established and a great empire grew. Funding their ships and cargoes helped make the City of London into the world's leading financial centre. In the 19th century a vast network of docks was created for ever-larger ships, behind high, prison-like walls that kept them secret from all those who did not toil within. Sail made way for steam as goods were dispatched to every corner of the world. In the 19th century London was the world's greatest port city. In the Second World War the Port of London became Hitler's prime target. It paid a heavy price but soon recovered. Yet by the end of the 20th century the docks had been transformed into Docklands, a new financial centre. The History of the Port of London: A Vast Emporium of Nations is the fascinating story of the rise and fall and revival of the commercial river. The only book to tell the whole story and bring it right up to date, it charts the foundation, growth and evolution of the port and explains why for centuries it has been so important to Britain's prosperity. This book will appeal to those interested in London's history, maritime and industrial heritage, the Docklands and East End of London, and the River Thames.

 

The Thames rapidly became the most important river in the country following the Roman invasion, and has remained so ever since. Peter's History of the Port of London puts everything into perspective and looks at how it developed and changed through the ages. The section on how it became Hitler's prime target during WW2 is especially interesting, along with its conversion to the capital's financial hub, of course. Pure social history of the highest order.

 

Sean Davies: Edward I's Conquest of Wales

Published by Pen and Sword 25th September 2017

Edward I's conquest of Wales was a key formative event in the history of Britain, but it has not been the subject of a scholarly book for over 100 years. Research has advanced since then, changing our perception of the medieval military mind and shining fresh light on the key characters involved in the conquest. That is why Sean Davies's absorbing new study is so timely and important. He takes a balanced approach, giving both the Welsh and English perspectives on the war and on the brutal, mistrustful and ruthless personal motives that drove events. His account is set in the context of Welsh warfare and society from the end of Rome to the time of Edward s opening campaign in the late thirteenth century. The narrative describes in vivid detail the military history of the conflict, the sequence of campaigns, Welsh resistance, Edward's castle building and English colonization and the cost of the struggle to the Welsh and the English and the uneasy peace that followed.

 

A stunning examination of Edward I's campaign to subdue and tame the Welsh - it's well known that Edward had all those fantastic castles built in Wales, but the various campaigns are exained in minute detail - this is an important and scholarly work that looks at this phase of Eward's reign in greater detail than ever before. Brilliant.

 

Gareth David: Railway Renaissance

Published by Pen and Sword 30th September 2017

When a 35 mile stretch of the former Waverley route from Edinburgh to Carlisle reopened on 6 September 2015, it became the most significant reopening of any UK railway since the infamous Beeching Report ,'The re-shaping of British Railways', was published in March 1963. In his report, Dr Richard Beeching recommended sweeping closures of lines across the UK to improve the financial performance of British railways, which led to wholesale closures over the following decade and a reduction in the UK rail network from 18,000 miles in 1963, to some 11,000 miles a decade later. But since that low point was reached in the early 1970s a revolution has been taking place. Passenger traffic on the railways is now at its highest level since the 1940s and from Alloa to Aberdare, as well as from Mansfield to Maesteg, closed lines have reopened and the tide of Beeching closures has been gradually rolled back. Scores of stations have been reopened and on many of the newly revived lines, passenger traffic is far exceeding the forecasts used to support their reopening. In this comprehensive survey of new and reopened railways and stations across England, Scotland and Wales, Gareth David asks what it tells us about Dr Beechings report, looking at how lines that were earmarked for closure in that report, but escaped the axe, have fared and reviews the host of further routes, which are either set to be reopened or are the focus of reopening campaigns.

 

We are extreely fortunate, where we live in North Norfolk, to have one of the country's foremost heritage railways, preserved and run by a dedicated team of people - the station remains the centrepiece for the annual 1940s weekend celebrations, and regular steam excursions take place throughout the year. Gareth David's superb book looks at the defiant renaissance of such heritage railways up and down the country, in contrast to Beeching's vision of a streamlined railway network, and the country is better for it in terms of the benefits these lines bring to their local economies. A fascinating look at how Beeching got it spectacularly wrong.

 

Peter Waller: Regional Tramways - The North West of England Post 1945

Published by Pen and Sword 30th August 2017

This is the third in the 'Regional Tramways' series that covers the history of tramway operation in the British Isles. Focusing on North-West England, the book provides an overview of the history of tramways in the region from the 1860s, when one of the pioneering horse trams that predated the Tramways Act of 1870 operated in Birkenhead (the first tramway to operate in the British Isles), through to the closures of the last traditional tramways (Stockport and Liverpool) in 1951 and 1957. It also looks at one great survivor the tramway in Blackpool that, fully modernized, continues to operate in the twenty-first century. Concentrating on the systems that survived into 1945 Blackburn, Blackpool, Bolton, Bury, Darwen, Liverpool, Manchester, Oldham, Salford, SHMD and Stockport the book provides a comprehensive narrative, detailing the history of these operations from 1945 onwards, with full fleet lists, maps and details of route openings and closures. The story is supported by almost 200 illustrations, both colour and black and white, many of which have never been published before, that portray the trams that operated in these towns and cities, and the routes on which they operated. Bringing the story up to date, the book also examines the one second-generation tramway built in the region Manchester Metrolink as well as informing readers where it is still possible to see surviving first-generation trams from the region in preservation.

 

The third book in this magical series looks at the North West of Britain, including Liverpool and Manchester etc. I remember travelling on a tram in London when I was about five years old, that would have been in 1951/2, I should think, and the fascination I had then with these magnificent vehicles has never diminished. I don't envy those people who live in cities, especially those that have newly installed tramways, like Nottingham, but I do wonder what it would be like to be able to travel around such cities in these coaches. This is an imoportant piece of social history, a brilliant series.

Martin W Bowan: C-130 Hercules - A History

Published by Pen and Sword 13th September 2017

Designed in response to a 1951 requirement, the C-130 Hercules is the most successful military airlifter ever built. Since it first flew in prototype form on 23 August 1954, more than 2,100 have been produced in over eighty different versions. Hercules serves more than sixty air forces, as well as many civilian cargo operators, in a multiplicity of roles, including air-to-air refueller, gunship, airborne command post, flying hospital and fire-fighter. This rugged and easily maintained aircraft entered service in 1956 with the USAF Tactical Air Command. Ten years later the 'Charlie 130' was providing the essential logistical support in Vietnam. This period in South-East Asia was the Hercules' finest hour. Paradrops, airlift and evacuation operations were completed around the clock, often at low level, usually under fire and nearly always in bad weather. A generation later this 'Mr Dependable' was serving with equal distinction in the Gulf War in the role of airlifter, radio-countermeasures and 'psy-ops' platform, gunship and, once again, 'block-buster bomber'. The 'Herky Bird' or 'Fat Albert', as the C-130 is fondly known, has proved a key component in humanitarian relief operations ever since, in all parts of the world. The incredible success story of the C-130 is far from over. Here Martin W. Bowman tells the full story of this remarkable aircraft at first-hand.

 

We regularly have squadrons of Hercules flying over North Norfolk, sometimes I even manage to get some shots if they're overhead whilst I'm out with Skipper the dog and have my camera with me - these majestic aircraft are a sight for sore eyes, and Martin's technical and informative look at their creation and use is absolutely fascinating. An iconic aircraft gets Martin's VIP treatment in this wonderful book.

 

Melanie Clegg: The Life of Henrietta Anne - Daughter of Charles I

Published by Pen and Sword 30th September 2017

Henrietta Anne Stuart, youngest child of Charles I and Henrietta Maria, was born in June 1644 in the besieged city of Exeter at the very height of the English Civil War. The hostilities had separated her parents and her mother was on the run from Parliamentary forces when she gave birth with only a few attendants on hand to give her support. Within just a few days she was on her way to the coast for a moonlit escape to her native France, leaving her infant daughter in the hands of trusted supporters. A few years later Henrietta Anne would herself be whisked, disguised as a boy, out of the country and reunited with her mother in France, where she remained for the rest of her life. Henrietta s fortunes dramatically changed for the better when her brother Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660. After being snubbed by her cousin Louis XIV, she would eventually marry his younger brother Philippe, Duc d Orl ans and quickly become one of the luminaries of the French court, although there was a dark side to her rise to power and popularity when she became embroiled in love affairs with her brother in law Louis and her husband s former lover, the dashing Comte de Guiche, giving rise to several scandals and rumours about the true parentage of her three children. However, Henrietta Anne was much more than just a mere court butterfly, she also possessed considerable intelligence, wit and political acumen, which led to her being entrusted in 1670 with the delicate negotiations for the Secret Treaty between her brother Charles II and cousin Louis XIV, which ensured England s support of France in their war against the Dutch.

 

I studied the English Civil War as part of my Open University degree course back in the late 1980s - how I would have loved to have had access to this fascinating book back then! Rich in detail and information, the amazing life of Henrietta Maria and Charles I's daughter read almost like a James Bond novel! Superb, intimate history of someone I didn't give a second thought to back then...

 

Paul L Dawson: Napoleon and Grouchy

Published by Pen and Sword 30th June 2017

One of the enduring controversies of the Waterloo campaign is the conduct of Marshal Grouchy. Given command of a third of Napoleon's army and told to keep the Prussians from joining forces with Wellington, he failed to keep Wellington and Blücher apart with the result that Napoleon was overwhelmed at Waterloo. Grouchy, though, was not defeated. He kept his force together and retreated in good order back to France. Many have accused Grouchy of intentionally holding back his men and not marching to join Napoleon when the sound of the gunfire at Waterloo could clearly be heard, and he has been widely blamed for Napoleon's defeat. Now, for the first time, Grouchy's conduct during the Waterloo campaign is analysed in fine detail, drawing principally on French sources not previously available in English. The author, for example, answers questions such as whether key orders did actually exist in 1815 or were they later fabrications to make Grouchy the scapegoat for Napoleon s failures? Did General Gérard really tell Grouchy to march to the sound of the guns ? Why did Grouchy appear to move so slowly when speed was essential? This is a subject which is generally overlooked by British historians, who tend to concentrate on the actions of Wellington and Napoleon, and which French historians choose not to look at too closely for fear that it might reflect badly upon their hero Napoleon. Despite the mass of books written on Waterloo, this is a genuinely unique contribution to this most famous campaign. This book is certain to fuel debate and prompt historians to re-consider the events of June 1815.

 

I have to confess to having never heard of General Grouchy - at first, I thought it might be a nickname for Wellington, but on closer examination of the book I discovered that Grouchy could have changed the course of the Battle of Waterloo, with dire consequences for Wellington and England's forces. The book examines the life and career of a man who could have helped Napoleon, but for reasons which are covered in the book, chose not to. Paul's biopic of a man previously forgotten by historians fills in the gaps.

 

Barry Gough: Churchill and Fisher - Titans of the Admiralty

Published by Pen and Sword 30th September 2017

A vivid study in the politics and stress of high command, this book describes the decisive roles of young Winston Churchill as political head of the Admiralty and the ageing Admiral Jacky Fisher as professional master and creator of Dreadnought, locked together in perilous destiny. Upon these Titans at the Admiralty rested Allied command of the sea at the moment of its supreme test, the challenge presented by the Kaiser's navy under the dangerous Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz. Churchill and Fisher exhibited vision, genius, and energy, but the war unfolded in unexpected ways. German cruisers escaped to Constantinople bringing Turkey into the war, and though Coronel's disaster was redeemed at the Falklands, Jellicoe's Grand Fleet was forced to seek refuge from U-boats; the torpedo and mine became prominent, to German advantage. There were no Trafalgars, no Nelsons. Press and Parliament became battlegrounds for a public expecting decisive victory at sea. Then the ill-fated Dardanelles adventure, by ships alone as Churchill determined, on top of the Zeppelin raids brought about Fisher's departure from the Admiralty, in turn bringing down Churchill. Wilderness years followed, with Churchill commanding a battalion on the Western Front and Fisher chairing an inventions board seeking an electronic countermeasure to the lethal U-boat. This dual biography, based on fresh and thorough appraisal of the Churchill and Fisher papers, is a story for the ages. It is about Churchill's and Fisher's war, how each fought it, how they waged it together, and how they fought against each other, face to face or behind the scenes. It reveals a strange and unique pairing of sea lords who found themselves facing Armageddon and seeking to maintain the primacy of the Royal Navy, the guardian of trade, the succour of the British peoples, and the shield of Empire.

 

With most historians writing about the Western Front as the centennial recollections continue, this foray into the lives of Churchill and Fisher as they battled for naval supremacy over Tirpitz's triumphs comes at just the right time. Barry Gough's examination of the disputes and agreements that saw these two giants of the British government present their respective cases, is an essential piece of first world war history.

 

Michael Chandler: Norwich's Military Legacy

Published by Pen and Sword 6th September 2017

Originally a town that was built of wood by the Anglo-Saxons, it was later burned down and then rebuilt as England s second city, after London, by William the Conqueror. Riots between the church and the citizens saw Norwich at war with the Pope in 1272 when a gate was constructed as a penance. The Norfolk Regiment has seen its men in combat from the Napoleonic Wars, the Crimean War, the Boer War and both World Wars. The more recent conflicts in the Falklands, Iraq and Afghanistan have also witnessed the bravery of the Norfolks. A comprehensive list of military personnel who gave their lives is examined, including Norwich-born Second Lieutenant Wilfred Edwards VC, as well as an account of 9694 Private John Henry Abigail of the Norfolk Regiment who, on 12 September 1917, aged 21, was executed for being AWOL. It would not be until November 2006 that Private Abigail was pardoned by the British government.

 

Norwich is now my adopted city, of course, having lived in North Norfolk for the last 25 years. Michael Chandler looks at Norwich's military history through the centuries in a vibrant and very readable account. Absolutely essential reading for social historians and local people alike.

 

Maureen Anderson: Durham Mining Disasters

Published by Pen and Sword 2016

Durham Mining Disasters C. 1700 - 1950 It is now over half a century since the last coalmining disaster to affect the lives and families of people living and working on what became known as the Great Northern Coalfield. This was the first area of Britain where mining developed on a large scale but at tremendous human cost. Mining was always a dangerous occupation, especially during the nineteenth century and in the years before nationalization in 1947. Safety was often secondary to profit. It was the disasters emanating from explosions of gas that caused the greatest loss of life, decimating local communities. In tight-knit mining settlements virtually every household might be affected by injury ...

 

You could be forgiven for thinking that the world is a better place now that mining for coal has all but ceased in Britain. Maureen's slice of social history looks specifically at mining disasters in Durha, whilst acknowledging that the mining industry was something of a disaster in terms of lives lost etc. A fascinating look at the North East's mining history.

 

David Hobbs: Royal Navy's Air Service in the Great War

Published by Pen and Sword 30th September 2017

In a few short years after 1914 the Royal Navy practically invented naval air warfare, not only producing the first effective aircraft carriers, but also pioneering most of the techniques and tactics that made naval air power a reality. By 1918 the RN was so far ahead of other navies that a US Navy observer sent to study the British use of aircraft at sea concluded that any discussion of the subject must first consider their methods . Indeed, by the time the war ended the RN was training for a carrier-borne attack by torpedo-bombers on the German fleet in its bases over two decades before the first successful employment of this tactic, against the Italians at Taranto. Following two previously well-received histories of British naval aviation, David Hobbs here turns his attention to the operational and technical achievements of the Royal Naval Air Service, both at sea and ashore, from 1914 to 1918. Detailed explanations of operations, the technology that underpinned them and the people who carried them out bring into sharp focus a revolutionary period of development that changed naval warfare forever. Controversially, the RNAS was subsumed into the newly created Royal Air Force in 1918, so as the centenary of its extinction approaches, this book is a timely reminder of its true significance.

 

An amazing account of the Royal Naval Air Service and the part it played in the aerial warfare of the first world war before it was swallowed up by the newly formed Royal Air Force. As someone with an ancestor by marriage who was a member of the RNAS, this book is especially fascinating to me and provides a vital and unique piece of aviation history.

 

Mike Roberts: Hannibal's Road

Published by Pen and Sword 1st June 2017

Many books have been written on the Second Punic War and Hannibal in particular but few give much space to his campaigns in the years from 213 - 203 BC'. Most studies concentrate on Hannibal's series of stunning victories in the early stages of the war, culminating at Cannae in 216 BC, then refocus on the activities of his nemesis ,Scipio Africanus, in Spain until the two meet in the final showdown at Zama. But this has led to the neglect of some of the Carthaginian genius' most remarkable campaigns. By 212 the wider war was definitely going against the Carthaginians. Yet Hannibal, despite being massively outnumbered and with little support from home, was able to sustain his polyglot army and campaign actively across southern Italy for another ten years. His skilful manoeuvring and victory in numerous engagements kept several veteran armies of the normally aggressive Romans tied up and on the defensive, until Scipio's invasion of North Africa pulled him home to defend Carthage. Mike Roberts follows the course of these remarkable events in detail, analysing Hannibal's strategy and aims in this phase of the war and revealing a genius that had lost none of its lustre in adversity.

 

Mike Roberts takes a look at the second Punic Wars, engagements that have been largely overlooked by Hannibal's historians through the years. A fascinating account of one of ancient history's most iconic leaders.

 

Michael Napier: Tornado GR1 An Operational History

Published by Pen and Sword 24th August 2017

Replacing the Vulcan, Buccaneer and Jaguar in the front line of the Cold War, the remarkable swing-winged Tornado GR1 provided Britain s strike capability in the last years of the Cold War in the 1980s, equipping some 10 RAF squadrons. During the Gulf War, Tornado GR1 crews led Britain s contribution to Coalition operations against Iraq, and in the subsequent years Tornado GR1s were involved almost continuously in operations over Iraq. In 1999 the Tornado GR1 force carried out offensive missions over Kosovo as part of NATO operations in the Balkans. The Tornado GR1 s Terrain Following Radar gave the aircraft a unique capability: it was the first RAF aircraft to have the ability to operate at low-level at night and in all-weathers. The incredible flexibility of both the aircraft and its crews was demonstrated by the successful switch to medium-level operations, using laser-guided weapons, after the Cold War. Produced in the same style format as Javelin: An Operational History (which approaches the subject from the perspective of the RAF squadrons which operated the aircraft), Tornado GR1: An Operational History describes in detail the accomplishments and day-to-day workings of the operational RAF Tornado GR1 units in the UK, Germany, the Middle East and across the globe. The book is underpinned by research from original official documents, augmented by the personal accounts by Tornado air- and ground-crews. It is richly illustrated throughout with photographs of the aircraft.

 

The latest in Pen and Sword's brilliant fighter aircraft series looks at the Tornado in all its glory, and with a superb set of commemorative photographs. Amazing!

 

Monica Hall: A Visitor's Guide to Georgian England

Published by Pen and Sword 30th July 2017

Could you successfully be a Georgian? Find yourself immersed in the pivotal world of Georgian England, exciting times to live in as everything was booming; the Industrial Revolution, the Enlightenment, and the nascent Empire; inhabited by Mary Shelley, the Romantic Poets and their contemporaries. However, rather than just wool-gather about the famous or infamous, you will find everything you need to know in order to survive undetected among the ordinary people. What to wear, how to behave yourself in public, earn a living, and find somewhere to live. Very importantly, you will be give advice on how to stay on the right side of the law, and how to avoid getting seriously ill. Monica Hall creatively awakens this bygone era, filling the pages with all aspects of daily life within the period, calling upon diaries, illustrations, letters, poetry, prose, 18th century laws and archives. This detailed account intimately explores the ever changing lives of those who lived through Britain s imperial prowess, the birth of modern capitalism, the reverence of the industrial revolution and the upheaval of great political reform and class division. A Visitor s Guide to Georgian England will appeal to Romantic poetry lovers, social history fans, fiction and drama lovers, students and anyone with an interest in this revolutionary era.

 

When I was younger, so much younger than today... I was captivated by Georgette Heyer's Regency romances and wanted to know more about the time in which those people lived. Working in the public library service, I had access to all kinds of bibliographical information, and actually found very little apart from a couple of books published by Batsford. The Georgian period remains one of the most elegant of all our historical periods, the architecture is sublime, the clothes to die for, and now, author Monica Hall has prepared this lavish book aimed at the kind of people who would nowadays want to buy a tourist guide. This is a fantastic piece of social history that fills in a huge number of gaps in our knowledge. First class entertainment and edicational at the same time! Wonderful!

 

Nell Darby: Life On The Victorian Stage

Published by Pen and Sword 30th August 2017

The expansion of the press in Victorian Britain meant more pages to be filled, and more stories to be found. Life on the Victorian Stage: Theatrical Gossip looks at how the everyday lives of Victorian performers and managers were used for such a purpose, with the British newspapers covering the good, the bad and the ugly side of life on the stage during the nineteenth century. Viewed through the prism of Victorian newspapers, and in particular through their gossip columns, this book looks at the perils facing actors from financial disasters or insecurity to stalking, from libel cases to criminal trials and offers an alternative view of the Victorian theatrical profession. This thoroughly researched and entertaining study looks at how the Victorian press covered the theatrical profession and, in particular, how it covered the misfortunes actors faced. It shows how the development of gossip columns and papers specialising in theatre coverage enabled fans to gain an insight into their favourite performers lives that broke down the public-private divide of the stage and helped to create a very modern celebrity culture. The book looks at how technological developments enabled the press to expose the behaviour of actors overseas, such as when actor Fred Solomon's' bigamy in America was revealed. It looks at the pressures facing actors, which could lead to suicide, and the impact of the 1857 Matrimonial Causes Act on what the newspapers covered theatrical divorce cases coming to form a significant part of their coverage in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Other major events, from theatre disasters to the murder of actor William Terriss, are explored within the context of press reportage and its impact. The lives of those in the theatrical profession are put into their wider social context to explore how they lived, and how they were perceived by press and public in Victorian Britain.

 

In this excellent book, Nell Darby takes a close look at the lives of the people who performed on the stage in Victorian England's theatres. Essential reading for hisrotians and students of theatre history, of course, but written in such an engaging style it will appeal to just about anyone.

 

Matt McNabb: A Secret History of Brands

Published by Pen and Sword 30th July 2017

We live our lives immersed in name brand products. It's hard to drive down the street without seeing a plethora of chain restaurants, car dealerships, branded clothing they're all around us. What most of us don't know is that the origins of many of the most well-known and beloved brands in the world are shrouded in controversy, drug use and sometimes even addled with blatant racism. A Secret History of Brands cuts through the rumours and urban legends and paints a picture of the true dark history of famous brands, like Coca-Cola, Hugo Boss, Adidas, Ford, Bayer, Chanel and BMW among others. Explore the mystery of the cocaine content of Coca-Cola, the Hitler-Henry Ford connection and why Bayer is famous for Asprin, but began their journey with Heroin, and how Kellogg's Corn Flakes were crafted to deter sexual arousal. Thoroughly researched, McNabb details first-hand conducted interviews alongside fairly weighed research to present the decisive view of brands histories that you haven't heard of yet.

 

Sp you think you know about our most famous brands? Think again. In this amazing, revealing book, Matt opens the lid on a Pandora's box of trade secrets - most of us will have tumbled that the original Coca-Cola had some kind of connection with cocaine - Matt gives us all of the details of that rather amazing connection, in a terrific book that will really open your eyes to the oldest brands still surviving to this day. Amazing!

 

Dennis Oliver: Churchill Tanks British Army Nort-West Europe 1944-45

Published by Pen and Sword 4th September 2017

Designed as a heavily armoured tank which could accompany infantry formations, the Churchill's ability to cross rough ground and climb seemingly unassailable hills became legendary. The tank first saw action in 1942 and the basic design was constantly re-worked and upgunned, culminating in the Mark VII version which was capable of taking on the heaviest German tanks. In his fourth book in the TankCraft series, Dennis Oliver uses archive photographs and thoroughly researched, vividly presented colour profiles to tell the story of these iconic British tanks. As readers have come to expect from the TankCraft series, the large full colour section of this book features available model kits and accessories as well as aftermarket products. In addition to the colour profiles there is a gallery of expertly constructed and painted models. A separate section explains technical details and production modifications giving the modeller all the information and knowledge required to recreate an authentic reproduction of one of the tanks that contributed so much to the British effort in the battles for Normandy.

 

A brilliant, comprehensive and very-well illustated look at the Chirchill Tank.

 

Becky Libourel Diamond: The Thousand Dollar Dinner

Published by Pen and Sword 15th October 2017

A Lavish Seventeen-Course Meal that Launched a New Age of American Dining. In 1851, fifteen wealthy New Yorkers wanted to show a group of Philadelphia friends just how impressive a meal could be and took them to Delmonico's, New York's finest restaurant. They asked Lorenzo Delmonico to astonish the Quaker City friends with the sumptuousness of the feast, and assured him that money was no object, as the honor of New York was at stake. They were treated to a magnificent banquet, enjoyed by all. However, not to be outdone, the Philadelphia men invited the New Yorkers to a meal prepared by James W. Parkinson in their city. In what became known as the Thousand Dollar Dinner, Parkinson successfully rose to the challenge, creating a seventeen-course extravaganza featuring fresh salmon, baked rockfish, braised pigeon, turtle steaks, spring lamb, out-of-season fruits and vegetables, and desserts, all paired with rare wines and liquors. Midway through the twelve-hour meal, the New Yorkers declared Philadelphia the winner of their competition, and at several times stood in ovation to acknowledge the chef s mastery. In "The Thousand Dollar Dinner: America's First Great Cookery Challenge," research historian Becky Libourel Diamond presents the entire seventeen-course meal, course by course, explaining each dish and its history. A gastronomic turning point, Parkinson's luxurious meal helped launch the era of grand banquets of the gilded age and established a new level of American culinary arts to rival those of Europe."

 

Astonishing to think that this is a true story!

 

Garry J Shaw: War & Trade With The Pharaohs

Published by Pen and Sword 4th September 2017

The ancient Egyptians presented themselves as superior to all other people in the world; on temple walls, the pharaoh is shown smiting foreign enemies - people from Nubia, Libya and the Levant - or crushing them beneath his chariot. Officially, foreigners represented disorder and chaos - the opposite of Egypt's perfect land of justice and order. But despite such imagery, from the beginning of their history, the Egyptians also enjoyed friendly relations with neighbouring cultures; both Egyptians and foreigners crossed the deserts and seas exchanging goods gathered from across the known world. They shared knowledge and technology, and sometimes settled abroad, marrying and acculturating. Through such interactions, the Egyptians influenced other cultures, and at the same time were themselves shaped by foreign contacts and external events.War & Trade with the Pharaohs explores Egypt's connections with the wider world over the course of 3,000 years, introducing readers to ancient diplomacy, travel, trade, warfare, domination, and immigration - both Egyptians living abroad and foreigners living in Egypt. It covers military campaigns and trade in periods of strength - including such important events as the Battle of Qadesh under Ramesses II and Hatshepsut's trading mission to the mysterious land of Punt - and Egypt's foreign relations during times of political weakness, when foreign dynasties ruled parts of the country. From early interactions with traders on desolate desert tracks, to sunken Mediterranean trading vessels, the Nubian Kingdom of Kerma, Nile fortresses, the Sea Peoples, and Persian satraps, there is always a rich story to tell behind Egypt's foreign relations.

 

My knowledge of the pharaohs is limited to what I originally read in the Bible and various BBC documentaries on Ancient Egypt I've watched over the years, together with some of the magnificent Dorling Kindersley history books that have come my way. Garry Shaw's book is something of a revelation, a different way of looking at what we know about the Ancient Egyptians and their amazing culture.

 

Norman Nicol: Captured Germans - British POW Camps in World War One

Published by Pen and Sword 2016

When we consider prisoner of war camps in the First World War we inevitably think of those on the Continent. We seem to have forgotten that in the UK there were huge numbers of enemy combatants and alien civilians interned in camps right across the realm. By the end of the war there were almost 500 internment camps in England and Wales, with another twenty-five in Scotland, two on the Isle of Man and one each in Ireland and Jersey. Between them they held around 250,000 individuals. It is a dark side of history and, for reasons that have never been fully resolved, many of the locations used to intern civilians and combatants during the First World War have been lost in time - until now. In this proposed title, the author has, for the first time ever, tracked down the sites and history of each of these camps and all the places used for internment purposes in the UK during the First World have been brought together in one document. As these camps were to be found in almost every region of the UK, its appeal will be equally widespread. For local and military historians, teachers, researchers and archaeologists, this book will prove of immense value.We must also not forget that for the families of those that were interred this will also be a vital source of information that was not previously readily available. The title will be completed in time for the centenaries of the First World War.

 

I was aware of the fact that we had POW camps in Britain during the second world war, because there was one directly behind where we lived in Brockworth in the 1950s, an Italian POW camp made entirely of Nissen huts which still stood until the late 1950s/early 1960s when they were cleared for a new housing estate. I have never given much thought to the fact that there may have been POW camps in Britain during the first world war. Norman Nicol's excellent book puts these camps firmly in mind with a close look at how German POWs were treated and housed during the conflict.

 

Nick Robins: Wartime Standard Ships

Published by Pen and Sword 30th August 2017

In both World Wars there arose a pressing need for merchant tonnage both to supplement existing ships but, more importantly, to replace ships that had been sunk by enemy action, and the key to the Allied strategy in both wars was a massive programme of merchant shipbuilding. This need gave rise to a series of standard designs with increasing emphasis on prefabrication and a progression towards welded hulls. This new book tells the remarkable story of the design and construction of the many types that not only contributed to their country s war efforts, but were also responsible for a cultural change in world shipbuilding that would lay the foundations for the post-war industry. The story begins in the First World War with the National type cargo ships which were the first examples of prefabricated construction. The best known of all types of wartime standard ships, of course, were the Liberty ships and their successor, the better equipped Victory ships, both built in the United States. Some 2,700 Liberty ships were built and this incredible achievement undoubtedly saved the Allies from losing the War. In Canada, the Ocean and Park ships made a further major contribution. Germany and Japan also introduced standard merchant shipbuilding programmes during the Second World War and these are covered in detail. The many different types and designs are all reviewed and their roles explained, while the design criteria, innovative building techniques and the human element of their successful operation is covered. Some of the story has been told piecemeal in a range of diverse books and articles, a few with extensive fleet lists. However, the complete history of the twentieth century wartime-built standard merchant ship has not previously been written, so this new volume recording that history within its appropriate technical, political and military background will be hugely welcomed.

 

I was unaware of a standard merchant ship until this terrific book by Nick Robins landed in my lap. Essential reading for students of maritime history.

 

Chris Goss: Junkers Ju 88

Published by Pen and Sword 6th September 2017

Designed as a fast bomber that could out-run the fighters of the era, the twin-engine Junkers Ju 88 became one of the most versatile aircraft of the Second World War. Such was the success of the design that its production lines operated constantly from 1936 to 1945, with more than 16,000 examples being built in dozens of variants – more than any other twin-engine German aircraft of the period. From an early stage it was intended that it would be used as a conventional light bomber and as a dive-bomber. As such, it served in the invasion of Poland, the Norway campaign, the Blitzkrieg and the invasion of France and the Battle of Britain. It went on to operate in North Africa, formed a key part of the air assault in Operation Barbarossa, and was vital to the Luftwaffe’s defence of Germany in the face of the Allied bomber offensive. It was also adapted for use as a fighter, night fighter, torpedo bomber, reconnaissance aircraft and even as a Mistel flying-bomb. It was used effectively against both land targets and shipping. In this selection of unrivalled images collected over many years, and now part of Frontline's new War in the Air series, the operations of this famous aircraft are portrayed and brought to life.

 

It was always difficult trying to decide which Airfix aeroplane kit to buy with my pocket money - British or German? Chris Goss's superb book on the Junkers JU88 reveals it as one of the most iconic and versatile of the Luftwaffe's aircraft. Brilliantly researched and presented.

 

J David Davies: Kings of the Sea

Published by Pen and Sword 30th August 2017

It has always been widely accepted that the Stuart kings, Charles II and James II, had an interest in the navy and more generally in the sea. Their enthusiastic delight in sailing, for instance, is often cited as marking the establishment of yachting in England. The major naval developments in their reigns on the other hand developments that effectively turned the Royal Navy into a permanent, professional fighting force for the first time have traditionally been attributed to Samuel Pepys. This new book, based on a wide range of new and previously neglected evidence, presents a provocative new theory: that the creation of the proper Royal Navy was in fact due principally to the Stuart brothers, particularly Charles II, who is presented here, not as the lazy monarch neglectful of the detail of government, but as a king with an acute and detailed interest in naval affairs. The author also demonstrates that Charles Stuart predecessors were far more directly involved in naval matters than has usually been allowed, and proves that Charles and James command of ship design and other technical matters went well beyond the bounds of dilettante enthusiasm. It is shown how Charles in particular, intervened in ship design discussions at a highly technical level; how the brothers were principally responsible for the major reforms that established a permanent naval profession; and how they personally sponsored important expeditions and projects such as Greenvile Collins survey of British waters. The book also reassesses James II s record as a fighting admiral. It is a fascinating journey into the world of the Stuart navy and shows how the Kings of the Sea were absolutely central to the development of its ships, their deployment and the officer corps which commanded them; it offers a major reassessment of that dynasty s involvement in naval warfare.

 

Another brilliant volume of maritime history, this time from the era of Charles II and James II. The detail is amazing and the narrative is both educational and entertaining.

 

Anthony Dawson: Voices From The Past - The Siege of Sevastopol

Published by Pen and Sword 30th June 2017

The Crimean War, the most destructive and deadly war of the nineteenth century, has been the subject of countless books, yet historian Anthony Dawson has amassed an astonishing collection of previously unknown and unpublished material, including numerous letters and private journals. Many untapped French sources reveal aspects of the fighting in the Crimea that have never been portrayed before. The accounts demonstrate the suffering of the troops during the savage winter and the ravages of cholera and dysentery that resulted in the deaths of more than 16,000 British troops and 75,000 French. Whilst there is graphic first-hand testimony from those that fought up the slopes of the Alma, in the valley of death at Balaklava, and the fog of Inkerman, the book focusses upon the siege; the great artillery bombardments, the storming of the Redan and the Mamelon, and the largest man-made hole in history up to that time when the Russians blew up the defences they could not hold, with their own men inside. The Siege of Sevastopol also highlights, for the first time, the fourth major engagement in the Crimea, the Battle of the Tchernaya in August 1855, the Russians last great attempt to break the siege. This predominantly French-fought battle has never before examined in such in English language books.

 

The Voices From The Past series is one of the most fascinating of all history projects. In this fascinating book, the voices of men involved in the war in the Crimea are heard for the first time. Compelling and intriguing stuff.

 

Joseph Pietrykowski: Great Battles of the Hellenistic World

Published by Pen and Sword 20th September 2017

For almost two centuries the Macedonian phalanx, created by Philip II and refined by his son, Alexander the Great, dominated the battlefields of the ancient world from the sweltering riverbanks of India to the wooded hills of Italy. As the preferred weapon of some of antiquity’s greatest commanders, this powerful military system took centre stage in many of the largest and most decisive conflicts of ancient times. In Great Battles of the Hellenistic World, Joseph Pietrykowski explores the struggles that shook the ancient world and shaped history. From the structure and composition of the opposing armies, to the strategy of their campaigns, to the leadership decisions and tactics that decided the engagements, Great Battles of the Hellenistic World examines seventeen landmark conflicts from Chaironeia to Pydna over the course of 170 years of bloody warfare

 

Amazing accounts of seventeen of the major conflicts of the ancient world.

 

Maureen Anderson: Foul Deeds and Deaths In and Around Newcastle

Published by Pen and Sword 20th September 2017

Newcastle, Gateshead, Morpeyh, Tynemouth and North and South Shields were towns of great wealth because of the many natural resources in the area. Certainly by the eighteenth century, Newcastle had become the most important commercial centre in the north, but, along with the wealth of the merchants and the factory owners there was the dire poverty of the working class. A pall of dark fog would linger over the buildings caused by the pollution spouting out from the chimneys of the ironworks and other industries. Bad housing, sanitation, overcrowding and low wages bred superstition, ignorance and illiteracy. Alcohol was often the only release the poorer classes had from their otherwise hum-drum daily drudge. It was not only the men who would spend all their money in the many beer houses, women also would drink themselves into oblivion, even if it meant their children went hungry. Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths in and around Newcastle spans three hundred years of grisly events beginning with the execution of so-called witches. The stories will show the reader the depraved side of their fellow man and give an insight into the darkest side of the history of the area.

 

Three hundred years of historical misdeeds in and around Newcastle are covered in Maureen Anderson's compelling social history of the North East of England. Mesmerising!

 


 

The small print: Books Monthly, now well into its sixteenth year on the web, is published on or slightly before the first day of each month by Paul Norman. You can contact me here. If you wish to submit something for publication in the magazine, let me remind you there is no payment as I don't make any money from this publication. If you want to send me something to review, contact me via email and I'll let you know where to send it.