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Field Marshal Sir John Chapple, Lieutenant General Sir Barney White-Spunner, Professor Gary Sheffield, Professor Thomas Mockaitis, Professor Stephen Badsey, The Revd. Dr. Peter Howson, Professor Jeremy Black, Frank Ledwidge, Dr Alistair Massie, Professor John Buckley, Carole McEntree-Taylor, Dr Nigel Warwick, James Holland, David Saul, Ricky Phillips.

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  1. 1. The Society for Army Historical Research Stumped for a Christmas present for the military historian in your house? The Society asked a number of military historians from various backgrounds (military, academic, social media) to recommend five books that they have read in the last year (regardless of when they were published) and very kindly, this is what they suggested: Field Marshal Sir John Chapple GCB CBE DL ex 2nd Gurkha Rifles and former Chief of the General Staff ‘Stepping Forward’. A tribute to the Volunteer Military Reservists and Supporting Auxiliaries of Greater London 1908-2014. Produced by Greater London Reserve Forces & Cadets Association [RFCA], Fulham House, 87 Fulham High Street, London SW6 3JS.
  2. 2. ‘Arc of The Gurkha’ by Alex Schlacher. This is a beautiful photographic record of Gurkha service from Nepal to the British Army, by superb Austrian photographer Alex Schacher who came across Gurkhas whilst embedded with US Marines in Helmand. Published 2014 (book launch 2 December) by Elliott & Thompson Ltd, 27 John Street, London WC1N 2BX. ‘A Talent for Adventure’ by Lieutenant Colonel Pat Spooner who served with 8th Gurkha Rifles and died recently. A very interesting war service: in Iraq. Captured at Tobruk. Escaped POW camp, helping two British generals to escape also. Then to Burma for very interesting work. After the end of the war, spent two years engaged in investigating War Crimes. Published by Pen & Sword 2012. There are lots of other books I have not yet read in detail including ‘The Life of Field Marshal Lord Roberts’ by Rodney Atwood - just out. Lieutenant General Sir Barney White-Spunner KCB CBE Like many of us, I suspect, my reading this year has largely been about the First World War. However, before I started on any histories as such I was lucky enough to be sent a copy of Michael Neiberg’s superb ‘Military Atlas of World War One’ published by Chartwell Books. Not only is this a fascinating study in its own right but it also makes the extent and progress of the war so much clearer. In particular it emphasizes just how global the conflict was, a timely reminder for those of us who tend to be fixated by the Western Front. To understand 1914, I re-read two of my all time favourite books, both by Barbara Tuchman. ‘The Proud Tower’, her incisive portrait of the western world in the decades leading up to the war, and then ‘The Guns of August’, her clear and exciting account of the outbreak of the war itself and the first month of fighting. As I think she is difficult to surpass as a historian, I then also re-read ‘A Distant Mirror’ as well, her now classic account of the “calamitous fourteenth century”, which she argues was almost as bad as the twentieth in terms of the misery it brought to Europe. Two other books about the First World War stand out. Margaret MacMillan’s ‘The War That Ended Peace’ is a brilliant and very well written new analysis of why war broke out and Sir Hew Strachan’s ‘The First World War’, recently reprinted by Simon and Schuster, is unbeatable as a succinct account of the whole bloody four years. On my Christmas present list are Neil MacGregor’s ‘Germany: Memories of a Nation’, the book that accompanies his recent radio 4 talks and the outstanding exhibition at the British Museum, a “must visit” for all military historians, and Andrew Robert’s ‘Napoleon the Great’. I have a rather different view of Napoleon to Andrew, as I think many of us do, but I am keen to learn more about the case for the defence, particularly as I have been fairly critical in my book on Waterloo which comes out next year. Professor Gary Sheffield (‘Command and Morale: The British Army on the Western Front 1914-1918’, (Praetorian Press, 2014), ‘A Short History of the First World War’, (Oneworld, 2014)) ‘Nelson: Britannia's God of War’ by Andrew Lambert, (Faber, 2005). A superb study of Britain’s greatest fighting sailor, which includes thought-provoking ideas on Nelson’s legacy.
  3. 3. ‘Monty’s Men; The British Army and the Liberation of Europe’ by John Buckley, (Yale University Press, 2013). Deserved winner of the Templer Medal, by one of my University of Wolverhampton colleagues. ‘Climax at Gallipoli: The Failure of the August Offensive’ by Rhys Crawley, (University of Oklahoma Press, 2014). An important book by an up and coming Australian scholar that demonstrates why the offensive was always doomed to fail. ‘Combat and Morale in the North African Campaign: The Eighth Army and the Path to El Alamein’ by Jonathan Fennell, (Cambridge University Press, 2011). A ground-breaking study based on the close reading of official reports on morale. ‘The Long Shadow: The Great War and the Twentieth Century’ by David Reynolds, (Simon and Schuster, 2013). If you read no other new book on the First World War, read this one. A tour de force. Professor Thomas Mockaitis (‘Iraq and the Challenge of Counterinsurgency’, (Praeger 2008), ‘British Counterinsurgency in the Posts-Imperial Era’, (Manchester University Press 1995)) ‘Michael Collins and the Anglo Irish War: Britain’s Failed Experiment in Counterinsurgency’ by J.B.E. Hittle, (Potomic Books, 2011). Written by someone with an intelligence background rather than an academic, this gem of a book examines a familiar subject from a fresh perspective. It is not a biography but a study of Collins but a study of his role in building an effective covert organization that foiled British efforts to defeat it. ‘The British Way in Counterinsurgency, 1945-1967’ by David French, (Oxford, 2012). This book provides the first comprehensive study of British COIN in many years. French situates each campaign within the larger context of history. During the years covered, the British Army had to fight its small wars with dwindling resources while remaining focused on its primary, conventional mission, defending Western Europe as part of NATO. ‘Losing Small Wars: British Military Failure in Iraq and Afghanistan’ by Frank Ledwidge, (Yale, 2012). Anyone seeking to understand Britain’s role in its two most recent wars must read this book. It goes a long way toward explaining why an army with so much unconventional war experience failed to apply the lessons of its own past. ‘The First Way of War: American War Making on the Frontier’ by John Gernier, (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005). This book covers unconventional war on the American frontier, especially during the colonial period. It’s coverage of the French and Indian War is particularly good. ‘Musket and Tomahawk: the Saratoga Campaign and the Wilderness War of 1777’ by Michael O. Logusz, With (Philadelphia: Casemate, 2010). Anyone inclined to dismiss General “Gentleman Johnny” Burgoyne as a mere fop unprepared for warfare in the New World should read this excellent account. It dispels the myth of Redcoats hacking their way through the wilderness to be defeated by experienced American backwoodsmen. Both sides made extensive use of conventional and unconventional troops in this hybrid campaign.
  4. 4. Professor Stephen Badsey (‘Doctrine and Reform in the British Cavalry 1880-1918’, (London: Ashgate, 2008), ‘The British Army in Battle and Its Image 1914-1918’, (London: Continuum, 2009) ‘House to House’ by David Bellavia, (Simon and Schuster, 2007). The Second Battle of Fallujah told from infantry squad level; a disturbing and powerful personal memoir from one of America’s self-defined warrior caste. ‘Monty’s Men; The British Army and the Liberation of Europe’ by John Buckley (Yale University Press, 2013). The story of British Second Army 1944-45, blending the most recent research and interpretations into an engrossing narrative. ‘Planning Armageddon: British Economic Warfare and the First World War’ by Nicholas A. Lambert, (Harvard University Press, 2012). A book that has changed the way that Britain’s role in the war is understood. An excellent starting point for much future research. ‘The Long Shadow: The Great War and the Twentieth Century’ by David Reynolds, (Simon and Schuster, 2013). A remarkable synthesis of the ways in which the war has been interpreted and commemorated since its end. ‘The Direction of War’ by Hew Strachan, (Cambridge University Press, 2013). Essays on the use of modern military history in understanding recent British strategic failures. A quotable line on every page. The Revd. Dr. Peter Howson (‘Muddling Through. The Organisation of British Army Chaplaincy in World War One’. (Helion Studies in Military History 2013)) ‘The Times D-Day: The story of D-Day through maps’ (Times Books 2014). Maps were vital to the whole of Operation Overlord. This books shows they can be useful in helping to understand the intricacies of D-Day, it’s planning, and what followed. ‘Veiled Warriors: Allied Nurses of the First World War’ by Christine E Hallett (Oxford University Press 2014). A major study of neglected area looks at the differing roles and experiences of nurses in the Allied nations ‘Loyal Sons; Jews in the German army in the Great War’ by Peter C Appelbaum / Valentine Mitchell (London 2014). A study of the experience of Jewish soldiers in the Kaiser's army and how it changed as the war progressed. ‘The Indian Corps on the Western Front Handbook and Guide’ by Simon Doherty and Tom Donovan – (Tom Donovan Editions 2014). An illuminating and illustrative guide to the year that the Indian Corps spent on the Western Front and in the UK. ‘The Great and Holy War: How World War I Changed Religion for Ever’ by Philip Jenkins (Lion 2014).
  5. 5. Professor Jeremy Black (‘The Great War and the Making of the Modern World’ (London: Continuum 2011), ‘War and Technology’ (Indiana University Press 2013)) ‘Monty’s Men; The British Army and the Liberation of Europe’ by John Buckley (Yale University Press, 2013). John Buckley's study of the British army in North west Europe in 1944-5 offers a fundamental and convincing reappraisal of performance, contributing greatly to an understanding of the role of fighting quality in Allied victory. ‘An Englishman at War: The Wartime Diaries of Stanley Christopherson DSO MC & Bar 1939- 1945’ by James Holland, (Transworld Digital 2014). This is given an individual formulation in James Holland's helpful recent edition of the record of a most perceptive British officer ‘Wellington's Wars: The Making of a Military Genius’ by Huw J. Davies (Yale University Press 2012) / ‘Wellington: The Path to Victory 1769-1814’ by Rory Muir (Yale University Press 2013). Although Rory Muir and Huw Davies might seem to threaten duplication in their coverage of Wellington. this is not the case. Muir is more biographical and Davies, though misguided on Waterloo is good on the operational side ‘The Peninsular War Atlas – Revised Edition’ by Nick Lipscomb (Yale University Press 2014). A sense of place is key and The second edition of Nick Lipscomb's historical Atlas of the Peninsular War offers much for those seeking to understand both battles and campaigns Frank Ledwidge (‘Losing Small Wars: British Military Failure in Iraq and Afghanistan’ (Yale, 2012), ‘Investment in Blood: The True Cost of Britain's Afghan War’ (Yale University Press 2013)) ‘Doing Battle, The Making of a Sceptic’ by Paul Fussell (Little, Brown & Company 1996) ‘Whicker's War’ by Alan Whicker (Harper Collins 2005) ‘Engineers of Victory: The Problem Solvers who Turned the Tide in the Second World War’ by Paul Kennedy (Allen Lane 2013) ‘An Intimate War: An Oral History of the Helmand Conflict’ by Michael Martin (C Hurst & Co Publishers 2014) ‘Field of Bones; The Irish Division at Gallipoli’ by Philip Orr (The Lilliput Press 2006) Dr Alistair Massie ('Wives and Sweethearts: Love Letters sent during Wartime' with Frances Parton (Simon and Schuster, 2014) 'War, Art and Surgery: the Works of Henry Tonks and Julia Midgley' ed. by Samuel J M M Alberti (Royal College of Surgeons, 2014) 'The Sensory War 1914-2014' ed. by Ana Carden-Coyne, David Morris and Tim Wilcox (Manchester Art Gallery, 2014) 'Waterloo: The Decisive Victory' ed. by Nick Lipscombe (Osprey, 2014) 'The First World War Galleries' by Paul Cornish (Imperial War Museum, 2014)
  6. 6. Professor John Buckley (‘Monty’s Men; The British Army and the Liberation of Europe’, (Yale University Press, 2013), ‘British Armour in the Normandy Campaign’ (Routledge 2004)) ‘The Bombing War: Europe 1939-45’, by Richard Overy (Allen Lane, 2013). This is not just an update on his previous works but a superb all-inclusive study of a wide range of aspects that takes our understanding of the topic onto a new level. ‘Arnhem: Myth and Reality – Airborne Warfare, Air Power and the Failure of Operation Market Garden’, by Sebastian Ritchie, (Hale, 2011). The most incisive and intelligent book on Market Garden in decades – essential reading. ‘Stout Hearts: The British and Canadians in Normandy 1944’, by Ben Kite, (Helion, 2014). This book answers many of the questions about how an army in 1944 actually functioned but were too afraid to ask. ‘Snow & Steel: Battle of the Bulge 1944-5’, by Peter Caddick Adams, (Preface, 2014). A gripping and engrossing account that offers new perspectives on a well-trodden path. ‘Beetle: The Life of General Walter Bedell Smith’, by DKR Crosswell, (University Press of Kentucky, 2010). Excellent on Bedell Smith, but superb on strategic high command in Europe in the Second World War. Carole McEntree-Taylor (‘Herbert Columbine VC’ (Pen & Sword, 2013), ‘Military Detention Colchester from 1947 - Voices from the Glasshouse’ (Pen & Sword, 2014) ‘1915: The Death of Innocence’, by Lyn MacDonald, (Penguin, 1997). A compelling account that skilfully weaves first-hand accounts with in depth research. ‘The Iron Cage’, by Nigel Cawthorne, (Fourth Estate Ltd, 1993) I like books that make me question established norms and inspire me into more research. This book does exactly that. ‘Forgotten Voices of the Great War: A New History of WWI in the Words of the Men and Women Who Were There’, by Max Arthur. (Ebury Press, 2003). As a writer I am always drawn to first-hand accounts and this book is a wonderful example of history told by the people. ‘Calais, A Fight To The Finish’, by John Cooksey. (Pen & Sword, 2001). I had to include this because it was the first military history book I read and I’ve been hooked ever since. ‘To The Last Round: The Epic British Stand on the Imjin River, Korea 1951’, by Andrew Salmon: (Aurum Press Ltd, 2010). A brilliant, well written account, that brings to life a forgotten war. Dr Nigel Warwick (‘Constant Vigilance The RAF Regiment in South-East Asia Command’ (Pen & Sword Books 2007), ‘In Every Place: The RAF Armoured Cars in the Middle East 1921 – 1953’ (Forces & Corporate Publishing Ltd April 2014) ‘Nga Tama Toa. The Price of Citizenship. C Company 28 (Maori) Battalion 1939-1945’ by Soutar, M. (David Bateman 2008 [reprinted 2011]). A detailed written and photographic account of the famous
  7. 7. New Zealand infantry battalion that fought in Greece, Crete, Libya in 1941, El Alamein and Tunisia in 1942 and 1943, Italy from late 1943 to 1945, and then on to the beginnings of the Cold War in Trieste. This is a significant testament to New Zealand’s contribution to the Allied cause and provides enlightenment of the warrior culture of the Maori and the heavy price of citizenship. ‘Kohima. The Furthest Battle’ by .Edwards, L. (The History Press 2009). A detailed account of one of the great and important battles of the Second World War. The consequences of the breakout of the Japanese Army into the north-Eastern plains of India are almost unimaginable. An old soldier from 2nd Recce Regiment who fought at, and was wounded, at Kohima recommended I read this. This battle is worthy of major feature film. ‘ Dead Men Risen. The Welsh Guards and the Real Story of the Britain's War in Afghanistan’ by Harnden, T. (Quercus 2011). Confronting and personal account of the operations of a Guards battalion holding the line in Helmand in 2009. ‘Tedder. Quietly in Command’ by Orange, V. (Frank Cass 2004). Recommended reading about a ‘modern’ military commander, par excellence, who understood air-land cooperation, implemented it to great effect, and was able to navigate the complexities of coalition warfare with patience and success. A quiet, fair-minded and dynamic leader who never courted the media nor had a penchant for distinctive headwear, but was no less effective. ‘War in the Wilderness. The Chindits in Burma 1943-1944’ by Redding, T. (Spellmount 2011). The Chindit operations provide a continuing fascination for students of the Burma campaign and there was a time when virtually the only written material on the Burma Campaign was on this subject. However, this books make a valuable and original contribution to the Chindit story. Almost unbearable at times to read of the hardships endured in sheer physical effort and from barely treatable tropical diseases. A great story and a clear demonstration of how the British Army had rapidly adapted to jungle warfare following the long retreat from Burma during 1942. James Holland (‘Together We Stand: North Africa 1942-1943’ (HarperPress, 2009), ‘Italy’s Sorrow: A Year of War 1944-45’ (HarperPress, 2008)) ‘Snow & Steel: Battle of the Bulge 1944-5’, by Peter Caddick Adams, (Preface, 2014). This is a surely definitive account of the Battle of the Bulge and one rich in layers, detail, and human drama. This is fabulous stuff from one of the finest military historians we have. ‘Monty’s Men; The British Army and the Liberation of Europe’ by John Buckley (Yale University Press, 2013). John Buckley is leading the academic revolution about how we view the Second World War and in this compelling and highly readable book, he explodes the myth that British forces were found wanting in Normandy and the north-west Europe campaign in the last year of the war. ‘The Recollections of Rifleman Bowlby’, by Alex Bowlby (Leo Cooper Publishing 1989). This is one of the best eye-witness accounts of being an ordinary soldier in the war. Bowlby captures the language and attitude of the British Tommies as they battled their way up the leg of Italy in 1944-45 perfectly. ‘Britain’s War Machine’, by David Edgerton (Oxford University Press 2011). Another stand-out book of recent years, this is another myth-buster, and is a brilliantly authoritative and compelling account about the machinery of war.
  8. 8. ‘Operation Sealion’, by Leo McKinstry (John Murray 2014). McKinstry not only writes brilliantly, he is also a superb researcher and in this new book about the summer of 1940, has produced a great deal of eye-opening information and new perspectives that makes a well-trod subject seem genuinely fresh. David Saul (‘All The King's Men: The British Soldier from the Restoration to Waterloo’, (Viking 2012), ‘The Indian Mutiny 1857’ (Viking, 2002)) ‘Eichmann Before Jerusalem’, by Bettina Stangneth (Knopf Publishing Group 2014). A brilliant, exhaustively argued and compellingly written book that explodes Hannah Arendt’s theory about the ‘banality of evil’ and that Eichmann had been simply ‘doing his job’ during World War Two. ‘Napoleon the Great’. by Andrew Roberts (Allen Lane 2014). A superbly nuanced portrait of a complex, likeable and never less than fascinating giant of history that will stand as the benchmark for a generation. ‘The Reckoning: How the Killing of One Man changed the Fate of the Promised Land’, by Patrick Bishop (William Collins 2014). A superb book that uses archival sources in both Britain and Israel to shine light on one of the murkier episodes of British imperial rule. ‘The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Rose and the Rise of the Tudors’, by Dan Jones (Faber & Faber 2014). A wonderfully pacy and insightful narrative of England in the 15th Century by the rising star of Medieval History. ‘The Trigger: Hunting the Assassin Who Brought the World to War’, by Tim Butcher (Chatto & Windus 2014). Butcher has re-written history with this evocative and moving journey in the footsteps of the assassin who sparked the First World War. Superb. Ricky Phillips (Group Manager of the 'British Military History' group, one of the fastest growing Linkedin social media groups). ‘Waterloo – the history of four days, three armies and three battles’, by Bernard Cornwell (William Collins, 2014). A wonderful and insightful account of the world’s most famous battle by the world’s most famous military fiction writer. Cornwell combines his outstanding ability as a story teller with an excellent grasp for tactics and the the personalities involved to produce a detailed and fast-paced narrative which informs and entertains in the style we have all grown to love his work for. Action-packed, vastly enjoyable, informative and educating – even for experts, Bernard Cornwell includes the perfect balance between detail and story, which never needlessly bogs the reader down in pure fact at the expense of narrative. It is an excellent first foray into non-fiction history from my favourite author. ‘Napoleon the Great’, by Andrew Roberts (Allen lane, 2014). A vast and thumping new book of equal and suitable size and scope, Napoleon the Great is a fantastic look at the most written about (and still the most intriguing) character in history. Andrew Roberts combines a praiseworthy narrative with excellent detail and manages with every page to say something new which is sure to always entertain and inform. Not the typical recital of campaigns and battles, this book does more to unravel the mysteries of one of the most complex and misunderstood characters of the past and emerges with a clear-cut, blunt and often unapologetic picture of a man, a commander and a statesman. With a pounding and compelling narrative and a wealth of new and meticulous research, this book is sure to become one of the lasting cornerstones of Napoleonic history for decades to come. Perhaps best of all
  9. 9. (from a personal point of view) Robert’s writing style is so exactly my own that it was difficult to remember that it wasn’t one of my own books! Compelling and impossible to put down. ‘Waterloo: Myth and Reality’, by Gareth Glover (Pen & Sword, 2014). Every so often a new book comes along which iconoclastically breaks the mould and shatters the illusion of what has become ‘established fact’. For Gareth Glover to take on a project on such an entrenched subject as the Waterloo campaign (particularly considering past attempts at the same by previous authors) is indeed a feat of bravery, and yet one which he has taken to task to produce an excellent reappraisal of this fascinating period of history. Compelling and challenging, always informative and with a great narrative, Waterloo: Myth and Reality forces the reader to challenge their own views and opinions as much as it questions the established versions of accepted history in light of excellent and well-presented new research. Often at odds with Andrew Roberts in a personal view of Napoleon, yet this book does not attempt to be a character study of any one of the commanders involved. In all, this is an excellent, bold and wonderfully presented view of a subject which even the seasoned military historian cannot fail to find fascinating and compelling. ‘The Campaigns of Napoleon’, by David Chandler (Macmillan, 1966). Fifty years on from its first publication and this excellent book remains the definitive military study of the campaigns and battles of the world’s greatest soldier. Being lucky enough to own two copies; a later format and a first edition, I have probably read this book a dozen times in staggered format, but never until this year have I read it end to end. The late, great David Chandler remains the undisputed king of Napoleonic history, and this epic work, written for the 150th anniversary of the battle of Waterloo, remains as relevant and as important fifty years on. An expert guide to strategy, tactics, politics, statesmanship and the man himself as well as his enemies and subordinate commanders, this book is – and should always be, the cornerstone of any serious collector’s library on military history. Rich in descriptions, punctuated occasionally by Chandler’s own brand of wit and humour; always engaging and packed with detailed battle and campaign maps, there is little that one could improve fifty years on. This titanic history ensures that David Chandler’s name will be synonymous with the Emperor’s in another hundred years’ time, and deservedly so. My first edition I bought when I was twelve, and was fortunate enough to have met the man himself before his sad passing ten years ago, therefore this book will always hold a special place for me. One of the best and most enjoyable books one could read, with every page a fascinating piece of history. ‘The Story of a Naval Doctor’, by Surgeon Rear-Admiral R.W. Mussen CB CBE MD Bch (Privately published). A very rare and almost forgotten autobiography of one of the outstanding characters of 20th century Great Britain, which the family have asked me to edit and annotate. What to say about this book, other than that I could not put it down? Beginning just after the Great War, the narrative tells a fascinating tale of the last days of the true British Empire taking the reader on journeys with some of the most colourful characters of the age (the author being almost beheaded by a jet-skiing Lord Mountbatten), through two coronations (and the true story of what happened behind the scenes), to far-flung corners of the empire and through the Second World War, sailing on both the Hood and the Barham both just before their fateful last voyages, all with a wonderful personal narrative which both compels and endears the reader. Written just for his immediate family, Admiral Mussen recounts some of the most engaging tales of an era without personal heroism or self-aggrandisement in an amusing, matter-of-fact style. A keen military historian and an excellent reporter, Robin ‘Paul’ Mussen appeals to readers of all ages and genres in his outstanding work, which is a privilege to read and to work on to bring it to a wider audience. If you haven’t met us before, who are we?
  10. 10. We are one of Britain’s oldest military history societies (since 1921), the Society aims to encourage the study of the history and traditions of the British Army from the late middle ages to modern times. Our main activity is the publication of a quarterly peer-reviewed Journal reflecting the members' interests and the results of their own research. We also hold regular speaking events and public lectures. To recognize outstanding research in British military history, the society awards the Templer Medal Book Prize as well as a number of lesser prizes and research grants. Please, why don’t you join us?