Book Reviews

The Historian is the publication for general members of the HA. One of its regular features is book reviews.  The reviews cover everything from the popular new history books to some of the more obscure, specialist books that make you proud that publishers still value history books. Find out what is hot on the history shelves here.

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  • Thames Mudlarking: Searching for London’s Lost Treasures

    Article

    Thames Mudlarking: Searching for London’s Lost Treasures, Jason Sandy and Nick Stevens, Shire, 2021, 96pp, £9-99. ISBN 9781784424329.  For two hours every day low tide exposes what this book calls ‘the ‘longest archaeological site in Britain’. Erosion and riverboat activity regularly reveal new artefacts. Henry Mayhew, in London Labour and...

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  • The Reckoning – The Defeat of Army Group South, 1944

    Article

    The Reckoning – The Defeat of Army Group South, 1944, Prit Buttar, Osprey Publishing, 2020, £30, 496 pages, ISBN HB 978-1-4728-3791-2 This is the ninth of Prit Buttar’s non-fiction books about conflict on Germany’s Eastern Front in the First and Second World wars, several of which Trevor James and I...

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  • Tracing Your Prisoner Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians, Stephen Wade

    Article

    Tracing Your Prisoner Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians, Stephen Wade, Pen and Sword, 2020, 176p, £14-99. ISBN 9781526778529 This is part of a very helpful series that has been produced by Pen and Sword. In this volume Stephen Wade guides us into a potentially unfamiliar area of family and...

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  • Holding the Line: The Naval Air Campaign in Korea

    Article

    Holding the Line: The Naval Air Campaign in Korea, Thomas McKelvey Cleaver, Osprey, 2021, 320p, £14-99. ISBN 9781472831736. This provides a very thorough introduction to how the politics behind military strategy operates in the United States. What we find, with extraordinary parallels with our own time, is that after the...

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  • Britain’s Greatest Prime Minister: Lord Liverpool

    Article

    Britain’s Greatest Prime Minister: Lord Liverpool, Martin Hutchinson, The Lutterworth Press, 2020, 429 pp, £50.00, ISBN 978-0-7188-9563-1  A continuous period of almost 15 years as Prime Minister suggests that Liverpool possessed a large array of talents, yet the average student of modern British history knows much less about him and his characteristics than those...

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  • The Last of Africa’s Cold War Conflicts: Portuguese Guinea and its Guerrilla Insurgency

    Article

    The Last of Africa’s Cold War Conflicts: Portuguese Guinea and its Guerrilla Insurgency, Al J. Venter, Pen and Sword, 2020, 210p, £25-00. ISBN 9781526772985 This book offers more than its title suggests. It is an analysis of how the longest-standing colonial power in Africa suddenly retreated after a domestic ‘coup’...

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  • Boudica at Mancetter: The Latin, the Land, The Logistics

    Article

    Boudica at Mancetter: The Latin, the Land, The Logistics, Margaret Hughes, Atherstone Civic Society, 2020, 256p, £10-00 [and £3-00 p + p]. ISBN 978-0-9551803-3-0. Enquiries to secretary@atherstonecivicsociety.co.uk One of the locational mysteries of the history of these islands is where exactly did Queen Boudica fight her final battle in AD...

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  • Tracing Your Poor Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians

    Article

    Tracing Your Poor Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians, Stuart A. Raymond, Pen and Sword, 2020, 196p, £14-99. ISBN 9781526742933 This is a very helpful aide memoire for anyone wishing to find out what their impoverished ancestors may have experienced. Inevitably it cannot provide precise answers to the most specific...

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  • The English Civil War: An Atlas and Concise History of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms 1639-51

    Article

    The English Civil War: An Atlas and Concise History of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms 1639-51, Nick Lipscombe, Osprey, 2020, 389p, £50-00.                   ISBN 9781472829726. This is an extraordinarily thorough book. Simultaneously it manages both to provide a clear commentary on military experiences within the Three Kingdoms whilst also providing...

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  • Rome: City in Terror – The Nazi Occupation 1943-44

    Article

    Rome: City in Terror – The Nazi Occupation 1943-44, Victor Failmezger; Osprey Publishing, 2020, 496 pp, £25.00ISBN 978-1-4728-4128-5  Victor Failmezger has written a thorough and detailed narrative of the appalling conditions that existed in Rome in the period from the first Allied bombing of Rome in July 1943 to its liberation on...

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  • In Cold War Skies: NATO and Soviet Air Power, 1949-89

    Article

    In Cold War Skies: NATO and Soviet Air Power, 1949-89, Michael Napier, Osprey, 2020, 320p, £30-00. ISBN 978-1-4728-3688-5. This book will appeal to two separate audiences. At one level Michael Napier has provided in extraordinary detail the nature and development of air defence in the widest reaches of the European...

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  • James of St George and the Castles of the Welsh Wars

    Article

    James of St George and the Castles of the Welsh Wars, Malcolm Hislop, Pen and Sword, 2020, 302p, £25-00. ISBN 9781526741301 The title of Malcom Hislop’s book tends to understate the extent of what he manages to embrace in this important volume. The role of James of St George in...

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  • Haldane: The Forgotten Statesman who Shaped Modern Britain

    Article

    Haldane: The Forgotten Statesman who Shaped Modern Britain, John Campbell; Hurst and Company, 2020, 482p, £30-00. ISBN 9781787383111 From my years in the sixth form through being a student and teacher, I have referred to what is now a very battered copy of Alan Palmer’s Penguin Dictionary of Modern History. The...

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  • The Man Who Was Saturday: The Extraordinary Life of Airey Neave

    Article

    The Man Who Was Saturday: The Extraordinary Life of Airey NeavePatrick Bishop; William Collins, 2019, 291 pp, £20.00ISBN 978-0-00-830904-6  Patrick Bishop has written a well-researched, judiciously fair and readable account of a man who combined wartime heroism with a political career which transformed itself from mediocrity to significance late in life.  War...

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  • England’s Saintly Landscape

    Article

    England’s Saintly Landscape, Trevor James, Lichfield Press, 2020, 95 pp, £10-00. ISBN 978-0-905985-94-7 The author is quick to credit W G Hoskins and Eilert Ekwall and their influence is readily apparent in the enthusiasm that permeates this study. Trevor James’ contention is that church dedications, place names, pilgrimage routes, local industries, fairs and...

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  • The Devil’s Bridge: The German Victory at Arnhem, 1944

    Article

    The Devil’s Bridge: The German Victory at Arnhem, 1944, Anthony Tucker-Jones, Osprey Publishing, 2020, 304p, £20-00. ISBN 978-1-4728-3986-2 The British view the events surrounding the bridge across the River Rhine at Arnhem in 1944 as an heroic attempt to accelerate the defeat of Nazi Germany, a view exaggerated in popular...

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  • The Mother of the Brontës: When Maria met Patrick

    Article

    The Mother of the Brontës, Sharon Wright, Pen and Sword, 2019, 182p, £19-99. ISBN 978-1-52673-848-6 With the three Brontë sisters having an international reputation for their creativity and with the parsonage at Haworth having become a literary shrine to their success, the question arises as to what were the ingredients...

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  • Poland and the Second World War 1938-48

    Article

    Poland and the Second World War 1938-48, Evan McGilvray, Pen and Sword, 2019, 344p, £25-00. ISBN 9781473834101. For those of us who understood that the Polish Partitions of the 18th Century had removed the reality of a Polish state from the map of Europe and that at the end of the...

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  • The Ever Open Door: 150 years of the Together Trust

    Article

    The Ever Open Door: 150 years of the Together Trust, Andrew Simpson, The Together Trust, 2020, 140p, £14-99. ISBN 978-1-5272-5671-2  From its earliest beginnings in Manchester 1870 as a ‘Night Refuge for Homeless Boys’, through being transformed into the ‘Manchester and Salford Boys and Girls Refuges and Homes’ and then...

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  • Lawrence of Arabia on War: The Campaign in the Desert 1916-18

    Article

    Lawrence of Arabia on War: The Campaign in the Desert 1916-18, Rob Johnson, Osprey Publishing, 2020, 368p, £25-00. ISBN 978-1-4728-3491-1 For those of us whose detailed knowledge of Lawrence of Arabia may have been drawn from Robert Graves’ classic Lawrence and the Arabs (1927), amplified by occasional textbook references, this really...

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