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D. Jones (UK)
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The Guns of War
The Guns of War
by George Blackburn
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunningly good., 27 Dec. 2012
This review is from: The Guns of War (Paperback)
I normally dislike books written in the first person for the reason that they tend not to do what is intended - put the reader in the author's shoes. Here, however, it works and it works very well. It is entirely possible to sit there and read this book as whole hours fly by, so ensconced are you in the world the author recreates for you before your very eyes.

It takes you to a world of fear and torment which is so addictive, you scarcely want to leave it. I found myself wishing for the safe passage of the other ranks and officers around whom this book is also written.

It also goes into detail regarding the role of the Royal Canadian Artillery and Royal Artillery in north west Europe in 1944 and 1945, the guns used and the men who served them. It does all of this without being the least bit boring.

Put simply, it's staggering, though the idiot who put the picture of an American on the front cover of the paperback edition needs shooting. Preferably from 3,500 yards with a 25-Pdr.


Backwater War: The Allied Campaign in Italy, 1943-45 (Stackpole Military History)
Backwater War: The Allied Campaign in Italy, 1943-45 (Stackpole Military History)
by Edwin P. Hoyt
Edition: Paperback

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I don't know what I was expecting, but it wasn't this, 13 April 2012
I'll be honest - I was expecting seomthing which would give an account of the war in Italy. What I got was a book written by an American whose modus operandi was to constantly have little sly digs at the British and belittle their performance in Italy while doing his best to distance the Americans from both the wider conflict and their failures in it.

This is a book which is in the same vein as the litrary diarrhoea that came from Ambrose. The main point of the book is not to tell the story of the fighting in Italy. And how do I know? In this book 'dedicated' to the whole Italian campaign, there is not one single map. Not one.


Operation Epsom (Battleground Europe)
Operation Epsom (Battleground Europe)
by Tim Saunders
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good book. Appalling spelling and grammatical errors., 26 Feb. 2012
This is a well-researched and informative account of Operation Epsom, providing an bird's eye view of the various areas of the battle and eye witness accounts from both sides. It enables the reader to fully understand the intricacies of the plan and the ensuing battle(s) and the problems faced by both sides.

One will emerge with a much better appreciation of the importance of the plan and the battles which followed as well as the gritty and tenacious fighting which took place.

One will also tire of the appallingly sloppy way in which this book was proofread. In fact, I am unsure as to whether it was proofread. Something is seriously amiss when there is a glaring mistake on each page (and, in some instances, in each paragraph). For that, it only gets three stars.


Troop Leader: A Tank Commander's Story
Troop Leader: A Tank Commander's Story
by Bill Bellamy
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eminently Readable, 13 Feb. 2012
Bellamy's book is partly an extension of his diary and partly his recollections. His writing style is engaging, faithful and sincere. His recollections of the war and are as good as his recognition that he was a young man with a lot to learn, but knew what was right and what was wrong. He doesn't blow his own trumpet but simply seeks to represent the war as he saw it. I loved reading every word of this book and every page held a story/fact/anecdote - to the extent that I'm giving it 5 stars.

Quite simply, it's brilliant.


Six Weeks: The Short and Gallant Life of the British Officer in the First World War: The Life and Death of the British Officer in the First World War
Six Weeks: The Short and Gallant Life of the British Officer in the First World War: The Life and Death of the British Officer in the First World War
by John Lewis-Stempel
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

12 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Incomplete, 30 Jan. 2012
If you're looking for a book which seeks to establish a link between the Public School system and the success of the British Army in the Great War, then look no further. John Lewis Stempel's Six Weeks is as much an ode to Britain's many Public Schools as it is to the officers of the British Army.

The same attitude pervades almost every aspect of the book but the desultory way in which non-Public School educated officers are dealt with in the book is not only lazy, it's downright offensive and can only be seen as a glaring omission in an otherwise well researched book. Ironically, the author spends some time concluding that may officers wished for large-scale dismantling of social barriers following the war - if only he had convinced himself to do the same before writing the book.

The result is what could have been an exciting insight into the evolving methods of officer selection but one which fails to deliver.

Overall, I enjoyed the book but never got past the feeling that the author considers the meritocratic appointment of non-Public School educated officers to be something of a mistake. In missing them out, his work is, therefore, incomplete.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 17, 2013 10:56 AM GMT


Irish Regiments in the World Wars (Elite)
Irish Regiments in the World Wars (Elite)
by David Murphy
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A large subject area, covered by a slim book. Do the maths., 28 Dec. 2011
Although half-decent for someone starting out, I think that the subject area is much too large to be covered by a book of this size and type. Covering all of the Irish units in both world wars is a job for something much more in-depth and the result is that the rear ends up feeling a bit deflated. If they had perhaps narrowed it down to the Second World War only, then it would have been a better read. Aside from the artwork, one could find the same information on the Internet without too much trouble. Which kind of defeats the point of the book, really.


Anzio: The Friction of War: The Friction of War - Italy and the Battle for Rome 1944
Anzio: The Friction of War: The Friction of War - Italy and the Battle for Rome 1944
by Lloyd Clark
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Really very good indeed, 20 Dec. 2011
This book really is a must for those researching Op. Shingle. It's got all you need from the political struggles, logistical problems, clashes of personality, right down to just how bloody hard the fighting actually was. You simply cannot pass over this book if you're studying the battle of Anzio. Intertwined throughout are small personal accounts, providing relief and emotion.

It's not a complete book and yes, some aspects require clarification but it'll grab your interest to the point where you seek out additional knowledge afterwards, which is a hard thing to pull off.

Recommended.


The Black Bull: From Normandy to the Baltic with the 11th Armoured Division
The Black Bull: From Normandy to the Baltic with the 11th Armoured Division
by Patrick Delaforce
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A decent overview but not great, 20 Dec. 2011
Written by Patrick Delaforce, an officer in the RHA in 11th Armoured Div, this book neatly illustrates both the positives and negatives of trying to cover the whole Division's movements over a long period. The result is that while some battles are covered in reasonable detail, some events are simply skipped over, with little more than a fleeting mention. The result is that a plethora of place names (which, unless you've some connection, will mean little to you) fly by your eyes page after page, making reading tough going in parts. To compound this issue, there are few maps to illustrate where these places are (especially dificult is trying to see how they all relate to eachother physically) and those maps that are incorporated within the book are not up to the task.

On the flip side, there's the accounts of fielding large numbers ot tanks in action, which helps you gain an understanding of armoured warfare in a sense but little emotional reflection on the numbers of tanks lost, what it was like to face German tanks or what daily life was like in one of Britain's premier front-line divisions.

I certainly wouldn't read this book again, but would refer back to it occasionally. I think it is one that you should read in conjunction with other books on British armoured warfare in WW2, but not in isolation. And when you do read it, keep a map on your knee.


Highlander Brass Meths Burner - Gold
Highlander Brass Meths Burner - Gold
Price: £5.99

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Simple to use, perhaps a little too simple in operation, 15 Nov. 2011
This stove is cheap, simple and easy to use. However, it's not that efficient, even for a meths stove. The distribution of heat is a little narrow and if you're not careful, you'll end up with a lump of burnt food at the bottom of your mess tin. Also, you'll need a stand to operate it with. There should be some instruction to let you know that you're better off suspending the mess tins c.3" above the stove.

A good little camping thing, though and well worth buying.


Cromwell Cruiser Tank 1942-50 (New Vanguard)
Cromwell Cruiser Tank 1942-50 (New Vanguard)
by David Fletcher
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.50

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A decent enough book but unexceptional (a bit like the tank, really), 15 Nov. 2011
The book does contain a number of facts and relevant figures, which is a good thing.

It gives an idea of the lunacy behind some of the decisions regarding adoption of British tanks in WW2 but it offers very little in the way of any combat evidence and for that, the book only gets 3 stars. Good for fact hunters and modellers but for those who want to see some proper opinions on the tank's actual intended role, I'm afraid you'll have to look elsewhere. I'd have expected, at least, some mention of the 4th CLY and there is. It's a one liner.


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