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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 14 September 2011
Can this be the same author who frequently tests the stamina of those of us who constantly hope that his fictional hero will take fire? This book is eminently readable. It is not an in-depth study of the history of the army, it is a series of episodes, if you like, covering mostly major events in its development. The writing tends to look on the bright side although some of the armies 'failures' are mentioned. In the main the quality of the British squaddy tends to shine through though recent events (Sept 2011) may have tarnished the (public) image slightly. One of the events where we did less than well (but better than most American authors would have it) was the war of 1812 and this is brushed aside with hardly a mention. A small affair in the scheme of things but deserves better in my opinion.
I am not sufficiently well informed to comment on Brig. Mallinson's conclusions but will accept them until someone tells me different, though sometimes I catch myself thinking 'really?', this can't be a bad thing if it makes you think.
I believe this book will appeal to a variety of readers. To the casually interested to whom the 'further reading' might tempt to further reading; to the interested in need of a refresher course and to the 'buff' to possibly provoke some new lines of thought.
My reviews of the author's novels have tended to the negative, I still read them though. I am happy to go positive with this one!
I read the Kindle version and found the maps a trial also the lack of illustrations makes it slightly less attractive.
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on 19 September 2017
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on 13 May 2017
Exellent history of british army as good a one as I have ever read
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VINE VOICEon 2 January 2013
In this single volume, Allan Mallinson gives an excellent, and very readable, short history of the British Army. Space, of course, doesn't allow great detail, and most conflicts are given a light touch, though the author uses key battles to illustrate important points. Nevertheless, his pen-pictures of Waterloo and the Falklands landings, and a number of other engagements, are very fine.

Discipline, dogged determination and a willingness to get close with the enemy ("They don't like it up 'em" as Corporal Jones would say) seem to be some of the factors that make the British Army special, and Mr Mallinson illustrates these qualities well. He is less willing to criticise the army (though doesn't spare the politicians) and some readers may consider this a weakness of the book. However, as the title suggests, the book is about the qualities that have made the army perform peerlessly again and again, and this role it fulfils well.

This is a marvellous book, recommended for anyone interested in military history.
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on 31 March 2010
I am not usually interested in war books and the like, but this was a Christmas present. And what an excellent present. The "story" is about the development of the modern British Army. But, in telling the tale, Allan Mallinson highlights how political interference (or neglect), military reactionaries (and military visionaries) and specific battles (lost as well as won) all helped in this process.

There are some battle descriptions - but only as illustrations of the developmental point the author found to be important to his story. The politics and social background are seen more from a military man's perspective - and I would argue some of his views in these areas.

What I found pleasing was his attempt at an early analysis of the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Clearly too much of the politics, battle strategies, etc are still not known, and Mallinson must be friends with many of the those actively engaged in these wars: but that does not prevent him from being as critical as such conditions allow. History will tell us if his views are valid or not.

Overall this is a thoroughly readable book about a subject that is central to national government (defence of the realm). As others have noted, from that perspective it is a "must read" for all politicians.
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on 31 May 2011
The Making of the British Army is Allan Mallinson's fascinating narrative of what has made the British Army what it is over the last four hundred years, he is author of the history of "The Light Dragoons" the regiment he once commanded and the very successful "Mathew Hervey" series of books about a fictional member of his old regiment in the Napoleonic Wars, he has also contributed on defence in a number of other publications and television news programs.

But this is in my humble opinion Colonel Mallinson's finest work to date,starting at the Battle of Naseby it gives a brilliant account of not only the history of the Army, but also the main characters who have formed, supported, fought in,and against, the British Army through four hundred years of almost continuous warfare, It goes quite deeply into how the Army has developed since the Civil War until the current war on terrorism .

Starting with Cromwell's Idea for a professional "New Model" army instead of the old Feudal system it tells how the army evolved through training and discipline into the force that was the envy of Europe, only to be stabbed in the back by government again and again, "the British Soldier can stand against anything ,except the British War Office" said George Bernard Shaw , an Oh boy was he right.
The Author's description of the Army of Marlborough, and Wellington. their tactics, methods of supply and training ect, are incredible and he clearly has done a vast amount of research into this, and used this information in his other works to good effect.

The analysis of the various leaders from the generals of the Civil War through Marlborough, Cumberland, Wellington, Kitchener, and Haige,to Tim Collins and Dave Richards make very interesting reading indeed, and he brings up a number of quips that only a member of the military hierarchy would ever know, I had no Idea that General Urquhart's daughter was married to Sir Menzies Campbell of the ConLib government , in fact all through this book there are these fascinating little pieces of information, about the great and good, their families, and in some cases not so good, major figures of British army history

The story of how famous regiments got there names and tradition is fascinating and the author really knows at great depth the idiosyncrasy's of the army, his explanation of how the regiments of the Line where initially made up and how they have been carried on until today, most certainly was in some cases news to me and this book is very well referenced and notated.

It is just as well that Allan Mallinson has retired as this book really shows who have caused the problems for the defence of the realm over the last four hundred years, but his no holds barred account of just how the Labour government Defence ministers were almost in a rotating door situation with one year having five incompetent incumbents. is most enlightening.

This is a really great book, although you can't really call it a history, it is the best account of what the British Army was, is, and will be, that I have yet to read and I most certainly recommend it.

Jim 24
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on 27 October 2009
This is the best and most authentic chronology of inception and growth of the British Army. A must read for army officers, bureaucrats and above all, for politicians. The book highlights the constructive role played by the national leadership, civil servants and generals in making the army a winner all the way. The process of dismantling and raising units over several centuries is most educative. The book is a very impressive combination of details of campaigns, biographical sketches of famous generals and evolution process of the army. To me the book is of greater interest as it provides inherent understanding of progress of evolution of the Indian Army before and since the first war of independence. The book should enrich the libraries of many staff colleges around the world.

Maj Gen Anukul Chandra,AVSM (Retd)
Indian Army
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on 17 September 2017
A definite read for those who want to know about the Army (since 1660) or those who already have a good understanding it is without doubt a great reference
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on 16 June 2017
Have now read this twice; it sits with my favourite non fiction books.
Dave Williams
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on 2 September 2014
An excellent historic perspective from the English Civil War to Afghanistan of all our campaigns. With the over riding message that despite what should have been learnt from history Britain continues to make mistakes as to the role, structure, resourcing and manning levels of the British Army. From scrambled resourcing and structuring in time of conflict to cuts in men and materiel in times of 'peace'. What does Britain want from its Army?
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