books monthly january 2018 Pen and Sword Publishers

New titles from Pen and Sword Publishers for January 2018

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David Santiuste: Edward IV and the Wars of the Roses

Published by Pen & Sword 2018

Indisputably the most effective general of the Wars of the Roses, Edward IV died in his bed, undefeated in battle. Yet Edward has not achieved the martial reputation of other warrior kings such as Henry V - perhaps because he fought battles against his own people in a civil war. It has also been suggested that he lacked the personal discipline expected of a truly great commander. But, as David Santiuste shows in this perceptive and highly readable new study, Edward was a formidable military leader whose strengths and subtlety have not been fully recognized. This reassessment of Edward's military role, and of the Wars of the Roses in which he played such a vital part, gives a fascinating insight into Edward the man and into the politics and the fighting. Based on contemporary sources and the latest scholarly research, Edward IV and the Wars of the Roses brings to life an extraordinary period of English history.

I have always been fascinated by the Cousins's War, (as Philippa Gregory labels it) or the Wars of the roses, as most historians refer to it; as well as Philippa's The White Queen series a couple of years ago, there have been numerous BBC documentaries on the subject, and the public's appetite to learn more was recently whetted with the discovery of the skeleton of Richard III in that Leicester car park. Now David Santiuste brings his expertise to bear with a highly detailed and persnalised study of Edward IV, who dominated the Cousins's War for such a long time, and was such a fascinating historical personality. There have been lots of books before about Edward IV, but every day brings new information from new reseach, and David's book provides an expert's eye on new discoveries and analyses of the personalities that lived and breathed during that time. This is the perfect biopic, the perfect history book, the perfect read for anyone interested in this particular era of our country's fascinating Mediaeval past...

 

 

 

 

 

Timothy J Cook: Eyewitness At The Somme

Published by Pen and Sword 6th December 2017

In 1915, news of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps landing and the slaughter at Gallipoli stirred tens of thousands of young men to go to war. They answered the call and formed battalions of the Australian Imperial Force. By the time the new recruits were combat ready, the campaign at Gallipoli had ended. Their battlefields became the muddy paddocks of France and Belgium. Based on eyewitness account, Eyewitnesses at the Somme traces the story of one of these battalions, the 55th, from its birth in the dusty camps of Egypt through three years of brutal, bloody conflict on the bitter western front. When the Great War ended in 1918, over 500 of the 3,000 men who served in the 55th had been slain and another 1,000 wounded. Eyewitnesses at the Somme, shares personal stories of Australian men as they stared down the horrors of war with determination, courage and mateship. With chapters devoted to the significant battles at Fromelles, Doignies, Polygon Wood, P ronne and Bellicourt, this book tells the story of one battalion, but in doing so it encapsulates the experiences of many Australians on the Western Front.
 

This marvellous book is not unique- there have been others recounting the Australian contribution to the first world war, but eyewitness accounts make this one so much more poignant than others I have read on this subject. The statistics are staggering - one-sixth of the men of the 55th battalion were killed and a further 1000 injured. Their story is one that will resonate with people who still want to read about the many thousands of unsung heroes of the Great War, and Timothy Cook has done us a great service by putting these accounts into a readable format.

 

Chris Clark: Combat Over The Trenches

Published by Pen and Sword 1st December 2017

'Father of the Flying Corps' and 'Father of Australian Aviation' were two of the unofficial titles conferred on Oswald ("Toby") Watt when he died in tragic circumstances shortly after the end of the First World War. He had become the Australian Army's first qualified pilot in 1911, but spent the first 18 months of the war with the French Air Service, the Aeronautique Militaire, before arranging a transfer to the Australian Imperial Force. Already an experienced combat pilot, he rose quickly through the ranks of the Australian Flying Corps, becoming a squadron leader and leading his unit at the battle of Cambrai, then commander of No 1 Training Wing with the senior AFC rank of lieutenant colonel. These were elements in a colourful and at times a romantic career long existing interest and attention - not just during Watt's lifetime but in the interval since his death nearly a century ago. His name had been rarely out of Australian newspapers for more than a decade before the war, reflecting his wealthy lifestyle and extensive and influential social and political connections. But this focus has enveloped Watt's story with an array of false and misleading elements verging on mythology. For the first time, this book attempts to establish the true story of Watt's life and achievements, and provide a proper basis for evaluating his place in Australian history.

 

Another Great War Aussie tale, this time a biopic of pioneer airman Toby Watts. The war in the air really took off in the latter part of the conflict, and Chris's tale of an extraordinary aviator is told with awe and respect for a man who was, for a short while, larger than life itself.

Glyn S Lewis: Joseph of Arimathea

Published by Pen and Sword 27th October 2016

Exploring the legend of the man who brought Christianity to the British Isles. "This author testifieth Joseph of Arimathea to be the first preacher of the word of God within our realms. Long after that, when Austin came from Rome, this our realm had bishops and priests there-in, as is well known to the learned of our realm."--Elizabeth I, in a 1559 letter to Roman Catholic bishops on the precedence of the Church of England. The name Joseph of Arimathea is generally well known, either from the accounts in each of the New Testament Gospels that tell of his providing a tomb for the burial of Jesus; from his depictions in medieval and Renaissance art; from his associations with the Holy Grail that later found greater expression in medieval Arthurian stories; and even from the story that has endured in western Britain that as a trader in tin, copper, and lead, he had traveled often to the region--and with him came the Christian religion. These stories are strongly rooted, despite the lack of impeccable source material--so much so that Elizabeth I used Joseph of Arimathea as proof that the Church of England predated the Catholic church in her country. In Joseph of Arimathea Glyn S. Lewis brings these fragments together in order to provide as fully as is possible what we can infer about this first-century apostle.
The author first discusses Arimathea, a town that has yet to be positively identified. He then reviews the accounts of Joseph's entombment of Jesus that appear in each of the four Gospels. From these earliest references, the author next consults the literary and oral tradition evidence of Joseph's passage by ship to the south of France among a group of fugitives escaping persecution for being Christians, and his early visits to Britain as a trader in precious ores. These voyages are said to have brought him to the area around Glastonbury, which became a flourishing monastery in the Middle Ages. Whether or not Joseph of Arimathea visited Britain, his story remains an enthralling and fascinating mystery.

 

Just about the only question Glyn doesn't answer definitively in this remarkable book is the positive whereabouts of Arimathea. For me, the key elements of this amazing book are the Gospel accounts, which Glyn dissects expertly and enthusiastically, plus the fact (something I was not aware of) that Joseph was a trader and that it was as such that he visited Britain and brought with him the Christian religion. Small wonder that Elizabeth 1st was able to claim that the Church of England existed far earlier than the Church of Rome. This is a superb account of the life of Joseph of Arimathea and will delight lovers of the Arthurian legends and students of the Christian religion alike. A most handsome book.

 

Joanne Major & Sarah Murden: A Georgian Heroine

Published by Pen and Sword 30th November 2017

Rachel Charlotte Williams Biggs lived an incredible life, one which proved that fact is often much stranger than fiction. As a young woman she endured a tortured existence at the hands of a male tormentor, but emerged from that to reinvent herself as a playwright and author; a political pamphleteer and a spy, working for the British Government and later singlehandedly organising George III's jubilee celebrations. Trapped in France during the revolutionary years of 1792-95, she published an anonymous account of her adventures. However, was everything as it seemed? The extraordinary Mrs Biggs lived life upon her own terms in an age when it was a man's world, using politicians as her mouthpiece in the Houses of Parliament and corresponding with the greatest men of the day. Throughout it all though, she held on to the ideal of her one youthful true love, a man who abandoned her to her fate and spent his entire adult life in India. Who was this amazing lady? In A Georgian Heroine: The Intriguing Life of Rachel Charlotte Williams Biggs, we delve into her life to reveal her accomplishments and lay bare Mrs Biggs's continued re-invention of herself. This is the bizarre but true story of an astounding woman persevering in a man s world.

 

The Georgian era remains one that allowed some amazing individuals to flourish and prosper, deserving the term "larger than life" to be applied to them. Rachel Biggs could have been the inspiration for author Dennis Wheatley's adventurous spy, Roger Brook, had she been a man; and when you consider the company she kept and the people she kept in touch with, Parliamentarians and aristocracy, for example, it is easy to see why she earned a reputation as an agent of King George III. A remarkable story, beautifully told.

Hugh D H Soar: How To Shoot The Longbow

Published by Pen and Sword 2017

Relying on more than fifty years' experience in archery, historian Hugh D. H. Soar reflects on how the longbow was drawn and shot across the centuries through examining the design of the bow and early literature about the bow, combined with his and his colleague's applied knowledge using replica bows. No complete medieval longbow has survived, but those found aboard the Tudor warship Mary Rose provide the best archaeological evidence to the possible construction of the medieval bow. Contemporary treatises written about the proper manner of shooting the bow, together with the resurgence in interest and construction of replica bows beginning in the late sixteenth century that form part of the author's collection provide the basis for this work. How to Shoot the Longbow: A Guide from Historical and Applied Sources is a fascinating and practical look at the use of a legendary invention.

 

Having read a nuber of brilliant books by Bernard Cornwell in which the longbow men of England trounced their French counterparts, it is refreshing to come across a kind of instruction manual on how to shoot the longbow. In the 1950s and 1960s, there was an excellent series of books called Teach Yourself... - this remarkable and thoroughly enjoyable book could well have been one of their titles!

 

Donald J Gara: Queens' American Rangers

Published by Pen and Sword 2017

At the start of the American Revolution in 1775, Robert Rogers of French and Indian War fame quickly organized a regiment to fight the war - but not on the side of his native Massachusetts. Named in honor of Queen Charlotte, Roger's regiment recruited Loyalists from New York, western Connecticut, and parts of Virginia. Rogers's command of the unit was short-lived however, and after a humiliating defeat in 1776, and under new leadership, the unit played a decisive role at the battle of Brandywine that brought them their first favorable attention from the British high command. With this performance, and under the able leadership of John Simcoe, the Queen's American Rangers- sometimes known as "Simcoe's Rangers" - were frequently assigned to serve alongside British regular troops in many battles, including Monmouth, Springfield, Charleston, and Yorktown.Receiving frequent high praise from Lieutenant General Sir Henry Clinton, the Commander in Chief of the British Army in America, the unit was placed on the American Establishment of the British Army in May 1779, a status conferred on provincial units that had performed valuable services during the war, and was renamed the 1st American Regiment. Before the end of the war, the rangers were fully incorporated into the regular British Army, one of only two Loyalist units to be so honored. The Queen's American Rangers by historian Donald J. Gara is the first book-length account of this storied unit. Based on extensive primary source research, the book traces the complete movements, command changes, and battle performances of the rangers, from their first muster to their formal incorporation into the British Army and ultimate emigration to Canada on land grants conferred by a grateful British crown

 

A comprehensive and exhaustive account of the Queen's American Rangers from historian Donald J Gara. A valuable addition to the literature of the American Revolution, written in a quite lively style and with plenty of very enjoyable anecdotal evidence. It is thanks to historians like Donald that we can say we are moving closer to a complete history of the United States.

 

 

Bob Carruthers: The British at Passchendaele

Published by Pen and Sword 2017

This new volume in the long-running Images of War series features the actions of the British Army at Passchendaele. The book is comprised of rare photographs illustrating the years of fighting on the northern sector of the Ypres salient, which finally culminated in the capture of the ridge at Passchendaele, accompanied by a powerful text written by Official War Correspondent Philip Gibbs, who was an eyewitness to the events. Photographs from the battlefield illustrate the terrible conditions, which the British forces on the battlefield endured in the notorious engagement, which has become synonymous with mud and squalor. This book incorporates a wide range of images, encompassing the actions of the British infantry and their supporting artillery. Also featured are images which depict the almost incomprehensible state of the waterlogged trenches. Portraits of the British troops are contrasted with German prisoners of war and the endless battle to get the supply columns through to the front.

 

Pen and Sword's commitment to as complete an account of the terrible years of the Great War is fulfilled spectacularly with this voume on the British Army at Passchendaele. any never-before seen photographs tell a story with far more impact and poignancy than words ever could. Astonishing.

 

Bernadette Fallon: Cathedrals of Britain - North of England and Scotland

Published by Pen and Sword 30th November 2017

Pointing persistently to heaven: A guide to UK cathedrals. Power, glory, bloodshed, prayer: cathedrals in the UK are as much about human drama as spiritual sanctuary, as much about political wrangling as religious fervour. From Christian beginnings in the Middle Ages through Reformation, Renaissance and Modernity, the great cathedrals of Britain have been both battleground and place of quiet reflection; created for the glory of God for sure, but also for the glory of men. There s a litany of great deeds and a list of secrets tied up in our national cathedrals and all are revealed within our guides, the ideal companions to the stories behind the greatest cathedrals of all. Whether you are travelling to view the buildings themselves or being an armchair enthusiast, let us take you on a journey. **Book One: The North of England and Scotland** From early Celtic influences through to English Reformation and the rise of Scots Calvinism, Scotland and the north of England has had a turbulent religious history. It was once united as the Kingdom of Northumbria, from Edinburgh and Lothian right down to the Humber, incorporating the counties of Durham and York and the holy isle of Lindisfarne. Today the kingdom has been dismantled but the cathedrals, which include some of the most famous buildings in the UK, still flourish and offer their secrets for discovery. Here you will solve the mystery recently uncovered in a mass grave in the country s oldest cathedral. Find a link to one of the UK s most famous retailers in an 11th century building. Enter inside the grand Scottish cathedral built in tribute to a 7th century Greek hermit. And go underground to discover a Saxon crypt, dating from the mid 600s.

 

Given the time in which these astounding monuments to God were built, this celebration of the cathedrals of England and Scotland celebrates the power of religion to inspire and create something so spectacular. I have visited a number of cathedrals in the southern half of the United Kingdom, from Gloucester (my home city) to Norwich (my new home city), and I can honestly say that my jaw has dropped as soon as I have stepped inside one of these remarkable buildings. This series does the creation of these arhitecturally glorious edifices really proud.

 

Paul C Levitt: Yorkshire's Secret Castles

Published by Pen and Sword 30th November 2017

There is no single event in the history of our nation that has impacted society as profoundly as the Norman Conquest. These were brutal times and revolts prompted the erection of a large number of timber and earth castles, the majority being built between 1071 and 1145. Yorkshire has many examples and this book goes in search of sites that represent the earliest feudal stamp of the Normans on the county s landscape. Many are situated off the beaten track and command superb views of outstandingly beautiful countryside, while others are close to populated areas. In some instances, the visible remains have long since blended into the local scenery due to land cultivation, decay, neglect, vandalism, or uncaring (or unwitting) civil engineering works. A few were subsequently development in stone, but the majority remain obscure and go largely unnoticed by all but the most informed visitor. Indeed, many locals are blissfully unaware of what once existed on their very own doorsteps. Where can they be found? Who built them? What were they like? What tales can be told about their turbulent histories? What traces of them remain?

 

From cathedrals to castles - the other amazing buildings the Normans gave us. Only this time it's secret castles, ones that have probably not survived the ravages of time, but for which evidence nevertheless remains. A brilliant book, one that celebrates the hidden beautoes and secrets of Yorkshire.

 

David Finlayson & Michael Cecil: Pioneers of Armour in the Great War

Published by Pen and Sword 29th November 2017

Pioneers of Armour in the Great War tells the story of the only Australian mechanised units of the Great War. The 1st Australian Armoured Car Section, later the 1st Australian Light Car Patrol, and the Special Tank Section were among the trailblazers of mechanisation and represented the cutting edge of technology on the Great War battlefield. The 1st Armoured Car Section was raised in Melbourne in 1916, the brainchild of a group of enthusiasts who financed, designed and then built two armoured cars. Having persuaded the Australian Army of the vehicles' utility in the desert campaign, the armoured car section, later re-equipped with Model T Fords and retitled the 1st Australian Light Car Patrol, provided valuable service until well after the Armistice. The First World War also saw the emergence of the tank which, despite unpromising beginnings, was to realise its potential in the crucial 1918 battles of Hamel and Amiens. A British Mark IV tank which toured Australia in 1918 demonstrated the power of this new weapon to an awestruck Australian public. Much of the story of the armoured cars is told in the voices of the original members of the section and in newspaper articles of the time which highlight the novelty of these vehicles. Painstaking research has produced a remarkable collection of images to accompany the narrative, many never previously published. Biographies of the members of these extraordinary units are also a feature of this book, their stories told from the cradle to the grave. Appendixes provide a wealth of supporting biographical and technical information that enriches the text and adds factual detail.

 

A brilliant third book this month about the Australian contribution to the Great War, this time concentrating on the subject of armour and armoured vehicles. Superb.

 

David J Breeze: The Frontiers of Imperial Rome

Published by Pen and Sword 29th November 2017

At its height, the Roman Empire was the greatest empire yet seen with borders stretching from the rain-swept highlands of Scotland in the north to the sun-scorched Nubian desert in the south. But how were the vast and varied stretches of frontier defined and defended? Many of Rome's frontier defences have been the subject of detailed and ongoing study and scholarship. Three frontier zones are now UNESCO World Heritage sites (the Antonine Wall having recently been granted this status - the author led the bid), and there is growing interest in their study. This wide-ranging survey will describe the varying frontier systems, describing the extant remains, methods and materials of construction and highlighting the differences between various frontiers. Professor Breeze considers how the frontiers worked, discussing this in relation to the organisation and structure of the Roman army, and also their impact on civilian life along the empire's borders. He then reconsiders the question of whether the frontiers were the product of an overarching Empire-wide grand strategy, questioning Luttwak's seminal hypothesis. This is a detailed and wide-ranging study of the frontier systems of the Roman Empire by a leading expert. Intended for the general reader, it is sure also to be of great value for academics and students in this field. The appendices will include a brief guide to visiting the sites today.

 

The defence and delineation of a country's or an empire's borders is something that really intrigues me - we know about Hadrian's Wall, in fact the last episode of BBC4's Digging For Britain gave us a detailed examination of the wall and how it worked in practice; but we know little about the Roman empire's other borders, except now there is Professor Daid Breeze's excellent new book to inform and educate us. This is a fascinating subject, practically all new information on the greatest empire of all and how it controlled and policed its borders. Absolutely fascinating!


 

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.