books monthly october 2017 military history

Remembering the Somme...

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Charles Barrington: What Did You Do in The Great War, Grandfather?

 

Published by Helion 15th September 2017

 

Part history, part social documentary, part love story, this is a grandson's search for what his grandfather did in the Great War. Drawing on war diaries in the National Archives, unit records in the Royal Artillery museum, and a unique pictorial record captured by his family on camera before and after the war, it tells of his grandfather's life before the war, his remarkable role in key stages of the war itself, and his life in India and Egypt afterwards before retiring in 1936.

The story begins with the author's recollections as a child of his grandparents and their home and tells how as he grew up he began to realise what a remarkable life his grandfather had lived. It describes the process of unravelling the story from a few brief clues, leading to the emotional experience of reading his grandfather's war diaries in the National Archives, which he had not known existed.

A theme of the book is that we find it impossible now to imagine what was in the minds of the British Expeditionary Force when they went to France in 1914. So much has changed that we cannot begin to understand why or how they put themselves in such danger, how they survived, and how they emerged victorious. A secondary theme is the question of how it all affected those who did survive. Much is made of the sacrifice of those who died, but this book allows a glimpse into the lives of those who had to live out their lives with the memories of what they had seen.

 

 

 

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John Antal: 7 Leadership Lessons of D-Day

Published by Casemate 10th October 2017

The odds were against the Allies on June 6, 1944. The task ahead of the paratroopers who jumped over Normandy and the soldiers who waded ashore onto the beaches, all under fire, was colossal. In such circumstances good leadership can be the defining factor in victory or defeat. This book is about the extraordinary leadership of seven men who led American soldiers on D-Day and the days that followed. Some of them, like Eisenhower, Theodore Roosevelt Jr, and Lieutenant Dick Winters, are well known while others are barely a footnote in the history books.

All of them made a dramatic difference during Operation Overlord. All understood that they had a mission to accomplish and that if they failed to lead that mission would fail and more men would die. When things did not go as planned, they took action, adapted and overcame - they were leaders. Leadership was the only ingredient that would get them through the storm of death surrounding them and their men.

This book is not a full history of D-Day, nor does it cover the heroic leadership shown by men in the armies of the Allies or members of the French Resistance who also participated in the Normandy assault and battles for the lodgment areas. It is, however, a primer on how you can lead today, no matter what your occupation or role in life, by learning from the leadership of these seven.
A critical task for every leader is to understand what leadership is. Socrates once said that you cannot understand something unless you can first define it in your own words. This book provides the reader with a means to define leadership by telling seven dramatic, immersive and memorable stories that the reader will never forget.

This brilliant book, published around the 100th anniversary of Passchendaele, reminds us that we were not alone in facing the Germans in WW1, but that there were also troops from various of our commonwealth countries. This particular book remembers the contribution and sacrifices of the Canadian troops on the Somme.

Thomas D Phillips: In The Shadows of Victory II

Published by Casemate 30th November 2017

The history of the United States is peppered with extraordinary military leaders. Fate has enshrined an exceptional few in the public's collective consciousness while sometimes ignoring others often equally as deserving, relegating them to footnotes at best. Though the nation owes them considerable debts, there are many examples of men whose singular leadership is now little remembered or forgotten completely.
This volume covers leaders "in the shadows" during the four major conflicts the United States engaged in from the end of the 19th century to the middle years of the 20th: the Spanish-American War, the Philippine Insurrection, World War I, and World War II. It tells the stories of more than 20 individuals and chronicles their activities through conflagrations spanning five decades. To enable readers to put these exploits into proper context, each chapter traces the roots of the conflict covered and discusses the paths that led to America's involvement.

Throughout the book, examples are also noted of leaders whose major renown is associated with a specific war―John J. Pershing, America's towering military figure during World War I, for example―who also rendered exemplary though largely forgotten service during a different conflict (in Pershing's case, the Philippine Insurrection). Of special interest to many audiences may be the commentaries regarding the World War I services of officers such as Eisenhower, Marshall, Patton, and Bradley―an aspect of their long military careers overshadowed by their World War II renown and too often minimized in consequence.

The book also features brief biographies of officers whose contributions, while less consequential on the world stage than those of colleagues chronicled elsewhere in these pages, are nonetheless deserving of far more recognition than has thus far been accorded them.

Volume 2 of a fascinating account of South Africa's Armed Forces and how they came to be reorganised.

Thomas Scotland & Steven Heys: Understanding the Ypres Salient

Published by Helion 15th June 2017

This work aims to provide the reader with a clear understanding of what happened in Ypres Salient between 1914 and 1918. It sets out to transport the visitor around sites of importance for the First, Second and Third Battle of Ypres, and in so doing to bring the battlefield to life. It will augment existing guidebooks by providing a unique new dimension without listing memorials and cemeteries. It doesn`t matter whether you are in your armchair, on foot, on a bicycle, or in a car, this book will effortlessly transport you to Ypres Salient, where you will be able to visualise what happened. It will take you to Kruiseke Crossroads and Gheluvelt in late October 1914, where tired remnants of the British Expeditionary Force fought desperately to prevent the Germans from breaking through to Ypres. It will lead you to the St Julien-Poelcappelle road on 22 April 1915 where Canadian soldiers near the front line formed a defensive flank after a chlorine gas attack had engulfed adjacent French colonial troops, killing many, while the survivors fled to the rear. You will visit Gravenstafel Ridge, where the Canadians were involved in bitter fighting two days later. You will go to locations throughout the Salient, which will help you to understand the four stages of the Second Battle of Ypres and the eight major phases of the Third Battle of Ypres where British, Australian, New Zealand and Canadian divisions all fought at different times. Eighteen concise chapters will focus on aspects of particular battles, explaining troop movements and strategy. Each chapter is accompanied by many maps based on those in the Official History, which have been painstakingly designed to provide clarity, while colour photographs taken by the authors in the course of many visits to Ypres Salient will help the visitor to understand important points made in the text. After reading this book you should be able to stand at any location within Ypres salient and be able to work out what happened there throughout four years of war. You will also be able to conjure up a picture in your mind of events which took place more than 100 years ago as though they were happening in front of you

 

This amazingly detailed book covering four years of fighting in Ypres Salient is both an aide memoir and a battlefield guide, its latter purpose being both comprehensive and novel in its approach. The authors have painstakingly researched and recreated many of the battles, and the literature of Ypres is the richer for their stirling efforts.

 


 

The small print: Books Monthly, now well into its sixteenth year on the web, is published on or slightly before the first day of each month by Paul Norman. You can contact me here. If you wish to submit something for publication in the magazine, let me remind you there is no payment as I don't make any money from this publication. If you want to send me something to review, contact me via email and I'll let you know where to send it.