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Ben J. Sheppard "Acolyte of Perkunas" (London, UK)

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White Eagle, Red Star: The Polish-Soviet War 1919-20
White Eagle, Red Star: The Polish-Soviet War 1919-20
by Norman Davies
Edition: Paperback
Price: £18.99

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In depth and exciting account of a neglected subject., 8 Jun. 2010
This book is a fascinating account of a little known episode of European history which was to have wide unforeseen repercussions. The book is scholarly in that all facts a referenced and supported, but in my opinion it is also highly readable. Davies enlivens the narrative with eye witness accounts, which bring the brutalities and sometimes absurdities of the battlefield home to the reader. The wild and diverse characters of the participants are also brought vividly to life, such as the indomitable loner Pi≥sudski, or the suave and inspired Soviet commander Tukhachevsky.

Although it is a highly balanced account it is difficult not to become very engaged with Poland's struggle to keep hold of her first chance of independence since the 1790's, and feel the tension from point when Poland was riding high after its annexation of Kiev, to the dark days when Warsaw was threatened, to the great counter stroke that threw the overstretched Soviet forces back over the border. These events were no less dramatic in that they were also the occasion of the last great cavalry battles ever fought, between Budyonny's First Red Cavalry and the Polish Ulans.

Another great strength of the book is as a myth buster. I had read that the "Miracle of the Vistula", when Soviet forces were thrown back from the gates of Warsaw, was the work of the French General Weygand. In reality he was frozen out by the Polish staff after having a bad reception from Pi≥sudski, and was credited with "saving" Poland by the British and French premiers, who were trying to cover their own reputations after the surprise of Poland's victory.

The book ends on a more melancholy note reflecting that it was published in the 1970's, when Poland was still under the heel of their old foe, the Russians. It is shown how the war may have affected the Soviet regime, as well as reflecting that militarily, many of the wrong lessons were learned, which contributed to Poland's ignominious defeat in 1939. Perhaps this book is ripe for a new addition with an introduction that takes into account Poland's improved fortunes and the warming relations with Russia.

Highlander in the French-Indian War: 1756-67 (Warrior)
Highlander in the French-Indian War: 1756-67 (Warrior)
by Ian MacPherson McCulloch
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Highlander in the French-Indian Wars, 7 May 2010
This book was a very satisfying read. The author has a natural affinity to the subject, being from a military background and a Canadian of Scottish origin. The account of the highland servicemen's lifestyle and challenges is enlivened by extracts from personal accounts in what seems to be a quite well documented period of history. We see how the highlanders brought many of their old traditions over to bind them together in a strange and perilous new land, managing to preserve their distinct identity, within the format of the regimental system.
The illustrations are of a very high standard too.

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