11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
A good place to start,
This review is from: Engines of War: How Wars Were Won and Lost on the Railways (Hardcover)
Among the plethora of books about wars it's good to read a new one that deals with a subject that I have not seen covered in detail before. I have read the odd chapter dealing with subjects like the use of trains in transporting holocaust victims or troop movements in the UK leading up to the Normandy landings but this book adds a level of insight and detail that I found unexpected and useful.
Christian Wolmar outlines clearly at the start of the book which areas he will deal with in detail and which areas he is not expert enough to cover.
From my point of view he covers most of key elements of the conflicts in adequate detail without getting overly technical. The book is very readable and my only quibbles are that the maps should probably have been at the beginning of each chapter and yes, there should be a map dealing with the Middle East conflicts of 1918. I would like to know some more about the cover image and where it was taken as it relates to a section on railway mounted artillery.
Those points aside, I would recommend the book as a companion to the many other books that dealt with the same conflicts and wars yet hardly ever mentioned the railways!
A book I read about the war in Russia in 1941 mentioned how the trains ran from Berlin to Moscow for three weeks after war was declared by both sides but Wolmar's book provides a much more solid context for understanding why many of the wars were started where railways were a relevant factor or how they served the progress of those conflicts. Subsequently, I think the history of the railways now has a very sinister overtone.
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Initial post: 21 Feb 2014 16:02:49 GMT
In case you read this after three years, the cover image is a still from a newsreel showing Schwerer Gustav ("Heavy Gustav"), the German 80cm cannon that was the largest gun ever built. There are several videos on YouTube - just enter schwerer gustav to find them. The gun also has a Wikipedia entry. It was designed to bombard the Maginot Line forts in 1940, but they couldn't get it ready in time. It was used in the siege of Sebastopol in June 1940. Its sister gun, Dora, was briefly used at Stalingrad. (Just think of all the tanks and U-Boats the Germans could have built with that steel!)
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