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Books & DVD

Great War; The Countdown to Global Conflict.
Author: Ian Welch.
Publisher: Haynes Publishing, tel. 01963 442030 www.haynes.co.uk
ISBN: 9780857332059.
Price: £25.

As the date to commemorate the outbreak of WW I gets closer there is more interest in the conflict. We know a lot about the war itself, the weapons, the armies and the battles, but what about the actual cause? This book answers that by beginning the story in 1904 and by using the reportage of the Daily Mirror, so the reader is presented with a chronology in the countdown to war. At the time the Daily Mirror was a popular newspaper for the masses with a circulation of 960,000 when it reported the death of Franz Ferdinand on 29 June 1914. Several weeks later, sales had reached one million. This is a nice work to see how journalists reported the facts and how the countries mobilised. This is about the smaller stories lost in the big headlines which makes it all the more fascinating for such ‘tit-bits’.

Bannockburn.
Author: Angus Konstam.
Publisher: Aurum Press Ltd, tel. 020 7284 7160 www.aurumpress.co.uk
ISBN: 9781781312872.
Price: £18.99.

This year marks the 700th anniversary of the Scottish victory over an English army at the Battle of Bannockburn fought on 23-24 June 1314. For that reason alone this work should be a milestone to mark such a momentous occasion, but sadly it falls short of providing a satisfying history. The author is qualified to present a solid account of this slice of Scottish history but instead he uses it as an opportunity take swipes at the English. He manages to bring in references to football, which is a strange choice to use as a simile to compare to the battle. He does make use of references from chroniclers of the day but he does not use them to their fullest potential. All the main characters are here from Robert the Bruce, William Wallace and King Edward II, along with the events but he does not say anything new. If you want a history of this battle try somewhere else.


The Battle of the Bulge.
Author: Patrick Delaforce.
Publisher: Pan & Sword Books Ltd tel. 01226 734222 www.pen-and-sword.co.uk
ISBN: 9781783463596.
Price: £25.

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First published in 2004 this re-issue comes in time to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the German offensive which showed the Western allies that the German Army was far from being beaten. In the decade since this work first appeared much new evidence has come to light and there have been many other works drawing on this material. Nevertheless it still stands the test of time and has all the details from its concept to final hours on the battleground. Readers may be familiar with the campaign but the numbers of troops, vehicles and weapons involved still come as a surprise, as do the distances involved and the weight of supplies to support both sides. The reader must decide if it was a missed opportunity by Hitler or a waste of good troops and equipment.

The Bofors Gun.
Author: Terry Gander.
Publisher: Pen & Sword Books Ltd, tel. 01226 734222   www.pen-and-sword.co.uk
ISBN: 1783462027.
Price: £25.

The Swedish armaments company of Bofors has produce many fine weapons over the years, but the one which everybody knows is the ‘Bofors Gun’ a 40mm calibre light anti-aircraft gun. The name of the author is also equally well known to weapons’ historians, and readers of this book will not be disappointed as they are taken from the very beginning and brought up to date with the latest versions of this venerable weapon. Every aspect is analysed down to each nut and bolt, clamp and lever. It is an in-depth assessment of unarguably the most famous light anti-aircraft gun ever produced. Every belligerent in WW II used the gun, including the German navy, and post-war conflicts saw the gun in service from Korea to the Faklands in 1982. In these days of hi-tech missiles the Bofors gun still has a place as readers will discover.

Marching to the Sound of Gunfire.
Author: Patrick Delaforce.
Publisher: Pen & Sword Publishing Ltd, tel. 01226 734222 www.pen-and-sword.co.uk
ISBN: 1783462647.
Price: £19.99.

For many British soldiers landing on the beaches of Normandy on 6 June 1944 was their first experience of actual battle. Some were veterans from Dunkirk, North Africa or Italy and together this army managed to break through the German defences and battle their way through to the heart of Germany. This is a collection of those first-hand accounts as told by the soldiers who actually fought in the front line. Tales from tanks crew, artillery, airborne and infantrymen are all here and will make the reader reassess any opinions of battle. There is humour, tragedy and relief at getting through it all from France to Hamburg where an officer calmly proceeds to feed the pigeons as though a tourist visiting the town square on holiday. Such is the stoicism of the British soldier.  Readers will find themselves going back to the anecdotes many times in this down-to-earth book.

Feldzug 1916.
Author: Michael Baldwin.
Publisher: Military Mode Publishing, tel. 07789 005991 www.militarymodepublishing.com
ISBN: 9781626201866.
£49.49 (including delivery in UK)

This is the third volume in the series of works aimed at collectors who specialise in WW I German uniforms and ancillary items such as gas masks and weapons used during trench raids. Meticulously illustrated in high definition every stitch can be seen not only in the material but also the leatherwork. The author has put together a text that explains the items and describes what to look for when it comes to collecting uniforms, badges and webbing equipment. The section on the ‘stick grenade’ is informative and the much rarer additional armour for the helmet explains that many have only seen in museums. The items of the Zeppelin are extremely rare and the story of how they came to be recovered makes this another fascinating volume. Reference books of this calibre are to be treasured and render others redundant.

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