In know these Osprey books are not supposed to be the be all and end all on a topic but just a rough over view, but after reading Ian Knight's badly organized and poorly written "The New Zealand Wars 1820-79" I almost feel like I know less about the topic than when I opened the book.
Basically the theme of the book is in a period of about 50 years the European settlers fought a series of wars with the various indigenous peoples of New Zealand who had a fierce warrior culture and were very well adapted to using firearms. Unfortunately in the 48 pages of the book this gets rather muddled.
In the start Knight goes into a very good explanation of the Maori culture but from there he launches into a description of the wars with the Europeans without really explaining too much about weapons, tactics or equipment. We're nearly half way through the book when he seems to end the text on the fighting before he goes back to start describing in detail the weapons and equipment worn and used by each side. Something that should have come well before writing about the battles so we can visualize how someone might be `out generaled."
When he does get around to the people doing the fighting he spends a great deal of time on soldiers' uniforms rather than, oh, say, the tactics they were using well or not, against the Maori and how they changed. It is wonderful to go into details about cuffs and collars if one is doing period costuming but in all honesty with less than 50 pages to cover the period there are other, far more pertinent things it could have been applied to-such as how bloody were the fights? Was it a slaughter or a waving of the flag? Knight wrote about the Rangers who were involved in "30 major actions and dozens of skirmishes" though only existed for 4 years. That sounds like fighting of a level the book doesn't even begin to describe. Foods and such used by both sides? Transportation? By the time he got to telling us how the cavalry dressed I found myself saying "There was cavalry?" because he hadn't made any mention of them before.
The last paragraph of the text is probably the very best example of the mess that some would call text as Knight writes that the New Zealand police were raised in the belief the wars were at an end , he then goes on to say they were about to face some of the most determined fighting yet. This is the end of the freaking book but he's setting it up as if there's to be a `to be continued' post mark or a dramatic fanfare.
In the end there is some good to be tweaked from the pages of this mess but it is a struggle. Between writing style and I can't call it organization because that would imply there was some, this is easily the worst Osprey book I've read in a long time. Possible ever. I cannot recommend it to anyone except costume designers working on a movie set.