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Books & DVD’s

Books & DVD’s

THE MARTINI-HENRY RIFLE

The subject of this latest title in the Weapon Series is very popular with weapon collectors and is an essential part of re-enacting the British army of the Victorian period. To many people it is a familiar rifle from having watched epic films such as Zulu and Zulu Dawn. That said, this is a very readable work on a weapon which is still to be found on the ranges with shooters. It is incredible how much can be included in such a compact volume without being overcrowded. This contains the right balance between words and illustrations and has information will please anyone who has an interest in the weapon. This is a weapon which helped defend the British Empire and is one of the most readily identifiable weapons from that period.

SHANGHAI 1937: STALINGRAD ON THE YANTZE.

Japan attacked China in 1931 but the Sino-Japanese War did not begin proper until 1937 and is a period or subject which historians rarely visit. The author of this work not only takes on the complicated task but does it in a masterly manner. Pre-war China is often seen as undeveloped but in this work the city of Shanghai is painted as a vibrant, cosmopolitan place thriving with banks and commerce. The Japanese attack changed all that and the brutality which came in the wake of the attack is described here. The Chinese tried valiantly in some cases to defend their country but to no avail and the price they paid was high. This is a great narrative and will expand the understanding of war in the Far East.

PANZERS AT WAR 1939-1942.

This is the first volume in a two-book set and covers the first half of the war from the attack on Poland to the first year in Russia and the whole of the campaign in North Africa. It charts the creation of the first tank force and the rise of the armoured divisions which were the spearhead of the Blitzkrieg. The book covers conversions and vehicle variants along with captured armour and how they were used. There have been many books written on German armour but each offers a different insight and reveals some aspect to keep the subject matter moving along. The author’s opinions of captured French tanks is revealing as is his mentioning how cameras were mounted in tanks to film the combat action from a unique perspective. For such a small book on the subject it delivers a lot.

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GREASEPAINT & CORDITE.

Vintage events themed to the 1940s and the war years are very popular and they complete the image by having period entertainment with singing and music. Some of the performers at these events wear uniform and the badges of ENSA which stood for Entertainments National Service Association; the troops however termed it ‘Every Night Something Awful’ Despite that the acts were well received and the troops extremely grateful. This book is a look back at that nostalgic period and tells how many of the post-war entertainers had been familiar acts to the troops. Churchill remarked that ENSA’s job was to ‘…sing while the guns are blazing’ and many of them did just that. They suffered privations and dangers as they travelled to the theatres of war. It was Basil Dean who had the idea to form the unit and this book, full of anecdotes, is a tribute to him and the stars of ENSA.

U-BOATS 1939-1942 (DVD)

There have been documentaries on the U-Boat before but this one is much different because it uses actual German wartime newsreel footage which cinema audiences in Germany would have seen. The footage shows U-Boats being built and launched which is fascinating. The conditions in which the crew lived whilst on patrol is shown as being claustrophobic and the air would have been foetid. Targets were attacked across the Atlantic from the English Channel to the coast of America and millions of tons of shipping were sunk. The scenes showing the crews being received as heroes would have been great propaganda and a boost to moral.

BLITZKRIEG (DVD)

According to General Heinz Guderian the term ‘Blitzkrieg’ was not coined by the Germans but rather probably by a foreign journalist. Whatever the exact story, the fact remains the word says everything about battlefield tactics of the German army. This original wartime archive film shows the full force of the German war machine in action and how the services worked together to make Blitzkrieg work.  The commentary is full of jingoistic rhetoric designed to keep the civilian populace supportive of the war and for historians studying social history that is an insight into the German mind at the time. The footage shows the huge scale of the bunkers being built in the West Wall or Siegfried Line and the other defences and the labour force to build these structures. The Norwegian campaign is the highlight of this film and fills in many gaps from that period of the war.

HITLER TRIUMPHANT; JUNE 1940 (DVD)

When Hitler visited Paris to survey the city, so the story goes, his trip was ‘sabotaged’ when the keys to the opera were conveniently lost and he could not enter and the lift of the Eiffel Tower mysteriously stopped working. That did not prevent his troops from marching a victory parade through the city and this film using wartime newsreels shows us what the German saw in cinemas. Hitler at Compiegne to accept the French surrender, meeting wounded troops and visiting the battlefields including the Maginot Line are all recorded here in some fascinating footage. He is shown looking at cultural architecture like any tourist and then discussing his battle plans with his generals to show a sharp contrast of Germany’s leader. This is a rare and absorbing insight into the early years of the war and can be viewed many times over and still see something new.

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