Editor’s Picks: Military History in Honor of Veterans Day

Yesterday was Veterans Day, and in honor of those who have served and are still serving, today we bring you a selection of fascinating military history titles!

Everything You Need to Know: The Battles of World War I
9780749015961Part of the series Everything You Need to Know, this book highlights the key facts about the most important battles in WWI that took place all over the world, from Australia to the Middle East to Spain. Rich in detail and fascinating facts, this is the definitive guide to the battles of WWI and how it’s changed our world today. Our understanding of the twentieth century and beyond hinges upon the First World War. In this new and comprehensive book the fascinating facts are presented in easy to understand language allowing anyone to brush up on the conflict that changed the world we live in today. It covers areas such as:
• The key battles Ypres, the Somme, Passchendaele, Mons, and Arras; the infamous trenches of World War I; and Vimy Ridge
• The key technology changes: the tank and the invention of the Royal Flying Corps, and the difference that they made
• The role of the USA when they started combat in 1918
and much more!
Buy it here $16.95

The Escaping Club
9781781551233One evening in the long hot summer of 1959, Alfred Gardner was walking home along Commercial Road. Noticing a woman who had collapsed, he ran to a phone box to call an ambulance, only to be beaten to it by an older man. Chance encounters often spark friendships, and this was to be the start of one spanning thirty-seven years. They were an unlikely duo. Gardner, in his late teens, had never journeyed far from Stepney, whereas Upson, in his early thirties, had already had an extraordinary life. For Gardner, the Second World War conjured vague memories of returning from evacuation in Hartlepool in 1944, to a Stepney under threat from Germany’s V1 and V2 rockets. Upson, meanwhile, had faced far greater dangers when the Japanese Air Force bombed Rangoon. In 1942, at the age of fifteen (having taken up smoking and drinking to appear older), he had joined Burma’s tiny navy. Nearly twenty years later, as they wandered the streets, pubs and clubs of the East End, the lives of these two friends were enriched by a fascinating cast of characters. There were exotics such as Red Boots Danny and the reforming East End cleric Father Joe Williamson, and celebrities like Clint Eastwood, who they used to see enjoying a quiet drink at the Waterman’s Arms. And Upson seemed to know everyone. His friend watched, amazed, as men and women, old and young, sprung forward to shake his hand and greet him.
Buy it here $24.95

To the Gateways of Florence
9781877514234From 21 July to 4 August 1944, New Zealand soldiers were at the front line as Allied forces pushed forward across the heartland of Tuscany to wrest Florence from German hands. First published in Italy in 2009, To the Gateways of Florence preserves the core of the Italian book, with the addition of new material and photographs. It balances expert accounts by military historians – on topics from tank warfare in Chianti to the contribution of Maori soldiers – with personal testimonies of New Zealand soldiers and Italian civilians. A rich selection of photographs and memorabilia from archives in New Zealand and Italy illustrates the work.
Buy it here $30.00

The Somme Chronicles
9781770226760This is the story of South African soldiers during the 1916 Somme offensive, which took place between the Allied forces and the Germans along the Somme River in France and was one of the bloodiest conflicts of the First World War, resulting in over a million deaths in six months. In July 1916, the men of the 1st South African Infantry Brigade were involved in recapturing the village of Lingueval and clearing Delville Wood of enemy soldiers, but they suffered extreme casualties. After six days of fighting, of the Brigade’s 3433 soldiers, only 750 were left standing. The rest were dead or wounded. This book tells the stories of the men of the Brigade via their letters, diaries, and interviews that the author conducted with survivors many years ago.
Not much has been written about South Africans during World War I. Surprisingly, it is a relatively untapped period of military history. This fascinating new book covers the iconic battle of Delville Wood, the most famous event involving South Africans during the war.
Buy it here $20.00

The Terrible Ones: A Complete History of 32 Battalion
9781770223974The soldiers of 32 Battalion were so feared by their enemies that they were called ‘the terrible ones’. This comprehensive two-volume work covers in detail the unit’s 117 documented military operations from 1976 to 1993. Nortje explains how the operations were planned and executed, what went wrong, what went right, and what the outcomes were. It also goes back to the early 1960s, covering events in Angola that would eventually result in the formation of 32 Battalion, and it ends in 2005, when the soldiers of the unit unknowingly betrayed themselves. This work builds a more complete picture than Nortje’s first book 32 Battalion, published in 2003. It is based on over 10,000 pages of documents in the Department of Defence Documentation Centre, which have only recently been declassified. Because of his security clearance, Nortje had access to these documents before their declassification, and was able to use them to write this book. Complementing the documentary evidence are 233 personal recollections: interviews that Nortje conducted with 32 Battalion members, as well as Portuguese, SWAPO, Cuban and Russian soldiers. These give the perspective of the men on the ground, an element often missing from military history. Based on rich documentary evidence which has never been available to the public before: military documents that were classified until recently, it gives the perspective of the men in the trenches.
Buy it here $85.00

Digging the Trenches
9781473822887Modern research methods – archaeological, historical, forensic – have transformed our view of the past. This is especially true of the history of the Great War. In this, the first comprehensive survey of this exciting new field, Andrew Robertshaw and David Kenyon introduce the reader to the techniques that are employed and record, in vivid detail, many of the remarkable projects that have been undertaken. They show how archaeology can be used to reveal the position of trenches, dugouts and other battlefield features and to rediscover what life on the Western Front was really like. And they show how individual soldiers are themselves part of the story, for forensic investigation of the war dead is now so highly developed that individuals can be identified and their fate discovered.
Buy it here $29.95

My Adventures as a Spy
9781445636108As a young Army officer, Robert Baden-Powell was stationed in Malta as an aide to his uncle, General Sir Henry Augustus Smyth. While there, he also served as intelligence officer for the Mediterranean for the Director of Military Intelligence and it was in this role that he had many of the adventures described in this book, traveling to investigate fortifications.
Written in 1915, and including Baden-Powell’s thoughts on German espionage before and in the first years of the First World War, My Adventures as a Spy describes such techniques as how to convey secret information using drawings of butterfly wings, how to quickly disguise yourself, how to safely produce plans of fortresses and observe troops and how to get past sentries.
Buy it here $14.50

Honoring the Doughboys
9781938086182Jeff Lowdermilk’s passion for World War I and of military history began as a lad when he listened to his grandfather, George A. Carlson, tell his life’s stories about serving as a ‘doughboy’ in Europe during the Great War. When his grandfather passed away in 1982, his mother gave to Jeff her father’s amazing diary, which included not only lengthy descriptions of the landscapes, towns, and battles he experienced, but also heartfelt observations and insights about what life as a soldier on the road and in battle and in the trenches meant to all of Mr. Carlson’s buddies. Thus began Jeff Lowdermilk’s life-long quest to tell his grandfather’s story. He immersed himself in the history of the Great War and in the geography of the places where his grandfather and other doughboys walked and fought. He also dedicated himself to becoming a first-rate photographer, and thus his career path as a writer and photographer and lecturer of World War I and II was securely in place. Honoring the Doughboys: Following My Grandfather’s World War I Diary is a unforgettable tribute to all the doughboys, the foot soldiers, who served during World War I. Integrating passages from his grandfather’s diary with his own anecdotes and photographic survey of the places his grandfather traveled and fought over, Lowdermilk has composed an enduring compilation of how the reality of battle and of war can be reconciled through commemoration and memorialization. Helen Patton, granddaughter of General George S. Patton, Jr., adds her voice of appreciation for Jeff Lowdermilk’s effort in her heartfelt foreword.
Buy it here $45.00

Zulu Zulu Golf
9781770221482The gripping account of Arn Durand’s first two years with Koevoet, South Africa’s most deadly fighting unit during the Border War. Through Durand’s eyes, the reader will experience the madness, mayhem and complexity of the war. A unit of the South African police, Koevoet was the most deadly fighting force involved in the Border War. This book is the account of Arn Durand’s first years with Koevoet, from 1982 to 1983. He describes patrols, ambushes and contacts, situations of certain death, dealings with the enemy and relationships with his Ovambo colleagues. This book does not glorify war or peddle propaganda. It simply relates, in a deadpan style, what it was like to be a killing machine in the heat of battle.
Buy it here $27.00

Land Girls
9781445610481The Women’s Land Army was actually founded in 1917, but it was during the Second World War that it attracted the kind of attention which assured its place in the annals of the British war effort. The Services’ demands on manpower created a gap which the alternative labour of female workers had to fill. Joan Mant history draws upon the reminiscences of over 300 ‘land girls’ (as they were affectionately known at the time), to tell the story of life on the wartime farm.
Despite the prejudice against women undertaking heavy outdoor work, young women from all walks of life volunteered to serve their country on the land. It was a hard and demanding task involving none of the glamour that life in the armed services seemed to offer. Wages were at subsistence levels and in most cases living conditions were Spartan. Those who had volunteered expecting a bucolic life of jolly haymaking were quickly pitchforked into harsh reality. Eating raw potatoes, keeping clean by bathing in milk sterilizers and starting work at 4 am were common conditions, and accidents – sometimes fatal – added to the hazards endured. But throughout these moving accounts of their lives runs a common thread of humor, camaraderie and pride. Land Girls is a fitting tribute to the WLA’s heroic effort to keep food on the nation’s table and establishes their well-earned place in the archives of war.
Buy it here $29.95


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