A Black Corps d'Elite
(Richard Hill & Peter Hogg)
The history of the Egyptian Sudanese conscript battalion sent to Mexico with the French army during the Maximilian adventure. Fascinating stuff, especially the men's later careers. Those who lived long enough were eventually promoted to brigadiers and finished up dying at Khartoum.
Battle of Plassey
Part of the 'British Battle Series' from the 1960's. It has very useful maps for recreating the battle.
Behind The Bungalow
An anonymous biography and sort of instruction manual for young administrators journeying out to India. Our copy was from the 8th printing, published in 1904, so who knows when it was originally written. Very amusing, in a sort of Noel Coward taking care of the good hearted, but foolish natives sort of way. Totally useless for gaming of course. Unless it might help create some characters for role playing in the 19th century.
Bugles and a Tiger
In the author's own words, "a story of how a schoolboy became a professional soldier of the old Indian Army."
Colonial Wars Source Book
(Philip J. Haythornwaite)
An excellent overview of British Colonialism throughout the period.
Conquest of Morocco, The
Another very fine chronicle of yet another colonial conquest. Including some very nice turns of phrase, including, "As the Victorian era approached its end, the diplomats were joined by wealthy expatriates, manly British, who came to Tangiers for reasons of health or, like Budgett Meakin's father, editor of the Times of Morocco - a newspaper noted for the inaccuracy of its information and the demented tone of its editorials - as an alternative to prison.
The rise and fall of the Mahdist empire. A good description of the 1896-1898 campaign, but some fascinating descriptions of lesser known smaller actions in the Easterm Sudan. And a tantalizing smattering of information on the Dervish's war with the kingdom of Abyssinia shortly after its defeat of the Italians. For the gamer, general numbers of Dervishs, but plenty of information on British, Egyptian, and Sudanese units.
French Foeign Legion, The
Not quite as good as the author's "Conquest of the Sahara," or perhaps merely not as readable. It's very serious stuff, with lots of analysis of desertion rates, and measures to maintain morale, and discussions of wet weather uniforms (remember, they went to Indochina). The two most interesting points were; 1.) That the 'White Hat' didn't become official, mandatory headgear until after W.W.II, and 2.) The Saxon Slow March which forces the Legion to participate at the end of all French parades, did not appear until the late 1940's. That's right, all film predating this shows legionnaires marching at the same pace as the rest of the French army, and all written descriptions of Legionnaires marching refers to them, "Moving at the typical Legion quick march."
God's Chinese Son
(Jonathan D. Spence)
Convinced by a vision that he is the younger brother of Jesus Christ, Hong Xiuquan leads his followers in the Taiping Rebellion which during the period from 1845 to 1864 cost an estimated 20 million Chinese their lives.
Great Zulu Battles
Good History, and quite useful for the gamer. Excellent maps and orders of battle for all sides, but without exact numbers for each of the units involved. Surprisingly, the Zulu armies had more frepower than they were ever given credit for in British History, or American films.
Hearts of Darkness - the European Exploration of Africa
Besides a general history of exploration it includes chapters on; disease, predatory animals, guns & ivory, and an excellent section on the porters themselves. Pages 138-139 includes information on the trade goods popular amongst porters, and the cloth patterns and colors they favored.
Last Mission, The
(Daniel Liebowitz, MD)
The harrowing tale of Stanley's last expedition to rescue Emin Pasha, or as the author refers to it, "Stanley's mad journey through the Congo." Well written, and fast paced, for a story about a 3-year tramp through the appalling Ituri rain forest. It chronicles; the death of safari officers, death of safari porters, death of attacking pygmies, death of helpless village bystanders, and death of all the expedition's pet dogs. (Stanley actually thought it was a good idea to bring terriers into the heart of the African rainforest.) So I suppose it's a great deal like reading about Scott of the Antarctic, except with a lot less snow. Oh, there's also a very interesting bit suggesting that Stanley was indirectly responsible for the death of the man he came to rescue, and the destruction of the province he came to relieve. But he did manage to write a very successful book afterwards.
Napoleon II and His Carnival Empire
A fascinating early chapter on 19th century policing and the investigation of a Parisian murder, a French view of the Maximilian Adventure, and a good bit on the death of the Prince Imperial at the hands of the Zulus.
New Conquistadors, The
Answers the question, "What do all those Napoleonic Wars veterans do after 1815?" They join units of foreign volunteers and fight for the rebels against the Spanish army in the Latin American Wars of Liberation.
Race for Timbuktu, The
(Frank T. Kryza)
An African Adventure that really predates the traditional period of European exploration. In the 1820's two Scots compete to be the first Englishman to reach Timbuktu, the fabled city of gold. Everyone and everything seem to conspire against them as one staggers across the Sahara desert and the other stumbles through the West African jungle. Including; Songhai tribesmen, Tuareg nomads, the Bey of Tunis, English consular officials who were actually Italian, and a scheming French ambassador thrown in for good measure. A fine read, of no use for gaming purposes, unless one wishes to run some sort of Dungeons and Dragons in the desert sort of thing.
Russo-Japanese War, The (a complete photographic record)
An ecclectic mix of 256 pages containing some very interesting photos. Lots of Japanese 'peasants' and Siberian peasants, but also some stuff showing Japanese troops in undress uniforms, and Russian artillery. Good for determining the way that the uniforms actually hung on the soldiers' body, and may provide just enough info to scratch build Russian artillery.
Scramble for Africa, The
A comprehensive 680 pages describing the events of the title, with a 14 page timeline of events at the end that could be very useful for someone setting up a campaign.
Skeletons on the Zahara
A harrowing story of the survivors of the US Merchant ship Commerce and enslavement by Arab nomads after their shipwreck on the west African coast in 1815.
Sudan Days and Ways
One of those memoirs written by former British Colonial administrators. This one concentrating on the author's service in the Sudan from 1909 until his retirement as the Governor of the Sudan in the 1930's. Penned in the mid 1950's the author is very much representative of his time, and he includes many stories about; the quaint and childlike natives, attempts to rescue baby animals, and unending shooting parties to kill adult animals. Oh, and just by chance he seems to have had cocktails and conversation with all the major survivors of the Gordon Expedition to Khartoum.
Three Empires on the Nile
With the subtitle "The Victorian Jihad, 1869-1899" the cover made this seem to be one of those anthropologist's social histories. Instead it's a ripping great read chronicling the original Egyptian conquest of Sudan, the Dervish 'counterattack,' and the eventual British pacification. The author sums up the British attitude to Africa, "The third factor blended economic optimism and Evangelical urgency with another aspect of the Victorian Mentality. Africa was a mystery, and this, the age of Darwin, Sherlock Holmes, and the crossword puzzle, was the great age of problem solving."
Victorian Lady Travelers
Who says that exploration was purely a male endeavor.
Washing of the Spears, The
(Donald R. Morris)
The Rise and Fall of the Zulu Nation. The first serious book on colonial history that I purchased as a schoolboy.
The author describes it as, "A Boy's Own Story Of Imaginary Combat." Americans might view it as a biography of the hobby. Lots of interesting, and colorful relatives. Lots of interesting, and colorful gamers. Lots of gossip about how certain figure manufacturers supported their business by selling exotic figures out of their basements. A lot of inside jokes, but they're still funny.
Dictator Style: Lifestyles of the World's Most Colorful Despots
An unusual, let's face it a very unusual, coffee table book concentrating on a very specialized section of interior design. Now you can answer the following questions. What sort of upholstery did President Porifirio Diaz use? Were Benito Mussolini's bathtubs more esthetically pleasing than yours because they sported giant, gold plated eagles? What sort of throw pillows did Hitler prefer? And, what was with Saddam Hussein and those huge Frank Frazetta (style) frescos painted on the walls of his toilets?
Hollywood History of the World
(George MacDonald Fraser)
The author of the tremendously popular Flashman series chronicles World History through the use of American films.
New, New York Bartender's Guide
(Sally Ann Berk)
Despite being the 'New' version of the New York Bartender's Guide this work contians many old time recipes. (There's lots of drinks requiring egg white stirred in with a fork.) Although not technically a book for gamers, it does provide much useful information in the membership's quest to 'Drink their way across America, from A to Z.'
Rise of the Indian Rope Trick, The
'How a spectacular hoax became History.' A ripping great read that might have ended up in the Colonial section if not for all the magical and psychic entries. It chronicles the decades long struggle (who knew?) between British Conjurers and Indian Jugglers to disprove the very existence of this famous magic trick. With many sworn testimonies by the wives of British majors, and from the batsman of Sir Douglas Haig, that they actually saw the trick performed.. Some years in the past.. On a date that they never quite remembered.
Story of War
A fascinating collection of photographs offering black and white images from the Crimean War, to color photographs of civil unrest in Jerusalem, and an impressively large collection of everything in between.
World's Worst Aircraft, The
Chronicling poor aviation design, or sometimes just poor thinking, from the XF-85 Gremlin fighter designed to be carried by US bombers to provide themselves with fighter support on long missions into the Soviet Union, to the ME-321 Gigant, which it was hoped would be able to transport entire cavalry troops around the Eastern Front. This is a story of bad ideas and good money thrown away. Worth the price of purchase just to read about the Tarrant Tabor, a 1918 bomber designed to fly from London to India, and with a half of ton of lead in the nose because someone implied that the design was just a tad tail heavy.
Horse: the complete guide to horse breeds and breeding
A very pretty coffee table book with excellent color photos of every breed of horse in existence at the time of publishing. It also has an index of the breeds in alphabetical order and by geographical range. So if you're painting Muscovites you can look up a list of the available horse types, and then see what you should paint them like. It is very handy if you want to make Wild West figures look like they are actually riding horses of specifically Western breeds.
The Mexican Revolution
Battles of the Mexican Revolution
(James R. Hinds)
A brief summary of every major encounter in 'La Gran Revolucion.' Little or no analysis of the major characters, with a plodding uninspired writing style, and hand drawn maps so amateurish as to suggest the back of a school boy's notebook.
It contains an order of battle for both sides in every major engagement of the conflict listing; unit names, unit strengths, and armament.
Thus it is an absolute gold mine for anyone gaming The Mexican Revolution.
A Picture Postcard Record of Mexico's Revolution and US War Preparedness, 1910-1917 The invention of the Kodak 3A camera in 1903, priced at $2.00, sparked a photographic revolution similar to the introduction of the cheap video cameras. By 1911 entrepreneurs had flooded Mexico hoping to make their fortunes on exciting postcards chronicling revolutionary action.
Chasing Villa: The Last Campaign of the U.S. Cavalry
(Col. Frank Tompkins)
Originally published in 1934, it is very much a product of its time with regard to some the unflattering opinions expressed by the author. There is even a brief explanation, one might say apology, for the views expressed at the very beginning of the more recent publications of the work. Despite this, and the less than riveting style of narrative, it is a spectacularly useful book for wargamers wishing to create scenarios from the period of the 1916 Punitive Expedition. It is quite simply crammed full of unit sizes and combat evaluations as well as numerous maps. Some showing broad strategic movement, others illustrating individual small unit actions, and thus perfect to help create individual scenarios.
Felipe Angeles and the Mexican Revolution
(Matthew T. Slattery)
A loving history of the Villista General. In my signed copy the author has inserted all of the necessary accents by hand, just to make sure that the reader gets the proper feel for the material. However, for the gamer there are some very useful descriptions of troop quality and unit strengths.
Film Footage of Federales on the March
Here's the link Federales on the March Fascinating footage of Federale units marching past the camera. All forms of headgear are in evidence, and there are mule teams pulling French 75mm field guns at the end.
INTERVENTION! The United States and the Mexican Revolution, 1913-1917
(John S.D. Eisenhower)
A strangely bland description of the Pershing Expedition preceded by a rushed description of the earlier phases of The Great Revolution. The author actually paints the appalling General Huerta as a sympathetic, pro-American sort of character. However, for the gamer there are some very nice maps, including a layout of the Vera Cruz port area.
Life and Times of Pancho Villa, The
The definitive biography of Villa 818 pages with 70 pages of footnotes. Heavily referenced by McLynn for the above work.
Mexico the Revolution and Beyond
Agustin Victor Casasola (photographer)
With text by Pete Hamill. The book covers far more than just the combat of La Gran Revolucion, but those chapters covering the fighting make this work well worth the purchase price for gamers. Fascinating photos showing; a close up of the 'golpes' on a bugler's arm, Rurales waiting for horses, Federales running in full kit who appear to be wearing puttees and not the official long trousers. Quite simply a must have for the Mex-Rev gamer.
Ringside Seat to a Revolution
David Dorado Romo
'An Underground Cultural History of El Paso and Juarez: 1893-1923.' A very unusual book, starting with a strange, and rather self-indulgent, description of the author's technique of 'psycho-geography' a method of historiography invented by equally strange Frenchmen in the 1920's. The author then abandons this approach for something he calls 'micro-history,' which itself is never quite defined. However, by half way through the first chapter the author seems to have become bored with both of his intellectual approaches to History, and simply concentrates on the topic at hand, The Great Revolution of Mexico. The photos are fascinating, and the brief biographies make it all worth while, but consider skipping the introduction.
The Secret War in El Paso
( Charles H. Harris III & Louis R. Sadler)
Thick, well researched, and an enjoyable read. This book concentrates entirely on the arms smuggling, espionage, and general skullduggery conducted by all sides in the US city of El Paso. A wonderful source of characters and scenarios for any sort of role playing in the period.
And good History as well.
Villa and Zapata; a History of the Mexican Revolution
The best book on the subject that the club has discovered so far. McLynn doesn't restrain himself in the use of adjectives for the larger than life players in this enormous upheaval, and yet his description of General Huerta as, "A villain of Elizabethan proportions" is completely accurate.
Gunboat ! Small Ships at War
A wonderful history of small, riverine craft, or as the author describes them "Small boats with big guns." Full of high adventure from the Crimean War, to shooting the Yangtze in 1949. There are even enough maps to provide useful data for setting up game scenarios.
Naval War of 1812, The
(Malcomson, Gardiner & Morirss)
One of the Caxton Pictoral Histories, so a bit of a big coffee table book. Some very nice pictures, and enough maps to help in setting up game scenarios.
Wild West, Etc.
A brief biography of Jerry Thomas, America's first celebrity bartender, who began his career in San Francisco during the Gold Rush. Also some very helpful recipes and instructions on how to assemble many of his most famous concoctions.
Knuckleduster Cowtown Creator, The
The Knuckleduster Cowtown Creator (Forrest Harris) A sort of Game Master's Bible for those running any sort of 1870's Wild West role playing. It's full of all the; building diagrams, town diagrams, price lists, weapons lists, and character profiles that one would need to start up a classic Wild West campaign, or even to run a few stand alone shoot-outs with plenty of period feel.
Legends of The Old West
A set of 'Shoot-out Rules' designed for the American West of the 1880's. Very similar in look and feel to the company's fantasy and 40K rules sets, but without the magic and fantastical elements. Ranged missile fire is less effective than in some other rules sets, and the final issue is frequently determined by hand to hand combat. There's a very useful section on running a campaign without maps, and the method for resolving wounds and acquiring loot and extra weapons between shoot-outs are both very workable and a lot of fun.
They Never Surrendered
(Douglas V. Meed)
The story of the Bronco Apaches of the Sierra Madres from 1890 to 1935 concentrating upon Franciso Fimbres in his efforts to rescue and then avenge his kidnapped family.
Wild West Bartenders' Bible, The
(Byron A. Johnson)
Not only a list of 500 drink recipes from the period, but a brief history of the likes of Jerry Thomas and Harry Johnson two of the most famous 'Mixologists' of the old west. There are also floor plans for a typical western saloon.
Flags and Battle Standards
Military Flags of the World
A great supplement to the Warflag web site. Some especially useful flags from; 18th century India, 19th century Africa, and the War of Spanish Succession.
The Italian Boy
"A tale of Murder and Body Snatching in 1830's London." Strikes one as very useful to provide background for 19th century, urban role playing games.
Defeat of Rome in the East, The
(Gareth C. Sampson)
"Crassus, the Parthians, and the Disastrous Battle of Carrhae, 53BC" Some interesting maps (a spectacular one for running a DBA campaign) useful Orders of Battle for both armies, and an unusually sympathetic treatment of the unfortunate General Crassus.
Fall of the Roman Empire; the Military Explanation
Explains the 'Old New Theory' that Rome fell not because of external barbarian pressure, but because the Late Roman army was corrupted from within. As opposed to the 'New New Theory' which is that Rome fell not because of the highly effective army, but because of political mismanagement of the external barbarian pressure. See Hugh Elton's book on the same subject.
Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome
As the title suggests, it's a 358 page explanation of 'everything Roman.' It didn't help me conjugate Latin verbs, and I still don't understand the concept of 'declension,' but it's worth the purchase price just for the list of Legions and their unit histories. There's also very useful information of unit strengths, but alas nothing that would help with painting figures.
Limits of Empire; the Roman Army in the East
Serious History without a great deal of gamer info (unit sizes, shield patterns, etc.), but interesting stuff on the absence of maps from the Roman army and the real reason behind the placements of most forts in the east. It gives an uncomfortable sensation of how unpleasant it must have been to be 'protected' by the Roman army.
Making of the Roman Army, The
Covers the subject from the late Republic through the army of Caesar Augustus
Mercenaries of the Hellenistic World
A very scholarly treatment of the subject, but no gamer breakdowns of unit strengths, or painting information.
Riding for Caesar
(Michael P. Speidel)
History of the horse guards who served the Roman Emperors.
Roman Imperial Army, The
Perhaps more accurately the early Imperial Army. So gamers building one of those convention winning late Roman DBM armies might be disappointed, but if you're building say.. Trajanic Romans, this is the book for you. However, it still won't tell you what color to paint their tunics. Best to use some Osprey books for that sort of thing.
Romans & Barbarians; The Decline of the Western Empire
An excellent overview of the subject with an interesting bit on 'Economic Warfare,' but little gamer stuff on unit sizes, etc.
Warfare in Roman Europe AD 350-425
Good stuff for those DBM players who swear by the Late Roman Army.
Byzantium and Its Army
More 'serious history.' Lots of discussion of recruitment and pay rates, but some very useful maps displaying the various military districts and the troop strengths stationed therein.
English Weapons and Warfare 449-1660
A book for 'young adults' crammed full of line drawings. It doesn't really give the gamer much info on unit strengths, or costume colors, but it certainly helps enormously with things like; what shape helmet should your longbowmen have, how long should their hauberk be, should the man-at-arms have two-handed swords or halberds, etc.
Great Betrayal, The
The story of the 4th Crusade and the sack of Constantinople.
Henry V The Scourge of God
Not just a biography of the warrior king, but a pretty convincing argument that his success was based largely upon his status as an intimidating and just plain scary individual.
Military Revolution in Sixteenth Century Europe, The
157 scholarly, which is code for dull, pages with copious footnotes, and probably not a single item of any use to a gamer. It supports the old theory that English armies lagged behind continental rivals in organization, rank names, weapons and training, because it wasn't until the 1580's that it looked as if the English would need to fight anyone possessing one of the 'New Style Armies with New Style Weapons.' It does, in less than two pages, debunk the old theory that the switch to gunpowder weapons was inexplicable, because bows had a much higher rate of fire than hand held firearms. The new explanation is; 1.) The Longbow did have a much higher rate of fire than hand guns, 2.) but only the English used the Longbow, successfully, in large numbers, 3.) Everyone else was using complex crossbows, which had a rate of fire comparable to that of handguns, 4.) And besides bullets went through armor, and arrows didn't.
Great and Godly Adventure, A
"The Pilgrims and the Myth of the First Thanksgiving." Very interesting stuff on the arrival of the Puritans in Massachusetts, the real nature of the first thanksgiving, and the evolution of the holiday meal as it has come to be known in America. For the wargame, well, there is a very brief description of the first battle with the local Indians, which might serve as an excuse to buy some of those Brigade Games figures for 'King Joseph's War.
Art of Warfare in the Age of Marlborough
Good stuff for those interested in the War of Spanish Succession, or the Great Northern War. It has some very interesting manpower tables and diagrams of infantry battalions deployed.
Craze: Gin and Debauchery In An Age of Reason
Not exactly a History book that is all that useful for wargaming. However, it's very well written and a grand read chronicling the English Gin Craze in the early 18th century. It does point out that Gin Laws only seem to have been passed in time of peace, because the English government needed gin duties to raise revenue whenever it was at war with France. So one could suppose that Louis XIV was indrectly responsible for helping to create a nation of gin drinkers.
Military Experience in the Age of Reason, The
Particularly valuable for those interested in the War of Spanish Succession, or the Great Northern War.
Peublo Revolt, The
Subtitled 'The Secret Rebellion That Drove the Spaniards Out of the Southwest.' It's one of those odd books that is really 3 stories all rolled into one. There is a bit about the Revolt of 1680 and the Reconquest of 1692, taken from Spanish records. It does give some useful numbers for the armies used, frequently between 70 and 250 men. And there is some description of the troop types and terrain involved. So it might be useful in finally getting those DBR armies from Book 1, List 32 Pueblo Cultures - maybe with the addition of 2 stands of Sh(I) - and List 41 Spanish Colonial - maybe with no Sh(I) and all Sh(O) However, a lot of the book is the Historiography of the Revolt. A sort of History, of the History of the Revolt. Then there's a lot of 'personal journy' stuff, describing long hikes through the mesas, contemplating the subject, and chronicling the many meetings with Native American administrators who didn't seem particularly enamored about writing a book on what for them was a religious topic.
Warfare in the Eighteenth Century
A general Military History of the period, with big pages and nice images, but not quite large enough to qualify as a 'coffee table book.' The author tries very hard not to become euro-centric. So there's lots of history about Asian and Chinese military campaigns. It is, however, a general History book. So that means it's a bit thin on unit sizes and composition, and there's a great deal of talk about 'The army of XX thousand moved over here and won a battle,' without really telling exactly how it happened.
Beggars in Red
"The British Army 1789 - 1889" A nice, albeit speedy, history of the British army over what the author considers to be its most important hundred years. It really should be mostly about the infantry, but tries to cover the cavalry and artillery as well. It can't really concentrate on any one period, because there is so much to cover. So perhaps it doesn't really belong in the Napoleonic section. There's also the Crimean war, the conquest of India, the Sepoy Rebellion, and of course Egypt and Africa. Probably a very good 'First Book' to read on the British Army.
French Napoleonic Line Infantry
One of the small Almark paperbacks from the 1970's, with very good sections on unit organization, everyday life, and general uniform info. It also contains a marvelous list of unit histories, albeit very brief, for regiments #1 - #160.
Hundred Days, The
Napoleon's last campaign from eye-witness accounts and letters.
Napoleon's Generals, the Waterloo Campaign
A collection of short biographies of the French commanders who participated in that campaign. Worth the read just to learn more about General Louis Auguste Bourmont who brought the 14th division up to the Belgian border, then calmly rode with his staff across to the Prussian lines and promptly surrendered.
With Eagles to Glory Napoleon and his German Allies in the 1809 Campaign
(John H. Gill)
Concentrates on some of the less well known troops from 1809 and gives some pretty useful information and maps to recreate small unit actions.
With Musket, Canon, and Sword
A brilliant piece of scholarship on Napoleonic combat. I believe this was the first work to debunk the old theory of British musketry (huge volumes of fire, begun at long range) and espouse the new theory of British musketry (one or two devastating volleys delivered at close range, and followed by a bayonet charge.)
American Civil War
A Taste for War
(William C. Davis)
The culinary History of the American Civil War. Full of fascinating details such as the constant efforts by the Federal Army to prevent enlisted men from eating fresh baked bread, because everyone knew that stale bread was more healthy. Also contains a list of Federal recipes at the back which answers the burning question, "What kind of sauces did the men use on their food in the field?" (Answer: Thick cream sauces, when they had time to make sauces.) Also, recipies for both Federal and Confederate style catsup.
Army of the Pacific 1860 - 1866
A comprehensive, one might suggest tediously so, history of Union forces raised and deployed in the far west. Largely based out of California these units fought in; New Mexico, Arizona, and the Pacific Northwest. I suppose one might say served in the Pacific Northwest. The author seems to glory in every detail of every bridge built, or chicken stolen, but then glosses over the limited engagements with both Indians and the Confederacy. Few maps, but some useful descriptions of (very) small unit actions suitable for role playing games along the lines of '2 privates and a corporal with a dog defend a supply wagon against Apaches.'
Bloody Crucible of Courage
An excellent account of tactics in the American Civil War. The author explains what was happening in Civil War combat, and why it was happening.
Cry Havoc !
(Nelson D. Lankford)
"The Crooked Road to Civil War, 1861" Fascinating stuff, especially for those having based their understanding of the road to civil war on the numerous PBS specials. The author argues that secession was driven by very vocal minorities in the deep south. Middle southern states, such as Virginia and Tennessee, had even smaller minorities who thought secession was a good idea, but they intimidated the majority everywhere except in Virginia. In that state a virtual coup in the legislature seized control of the state government and took it out of the union. After that portion of the state which is now West Virginia, and which at that point contained more than 50% of the state's population proceeded to secede from the secessionists and form the new state that exists today. Amazing stuff, and well worth the read. Although the only possible use for creating a wargame might be the Baltimore riots in which large mobs of lightly armed secessionist sympathizers attached regiments of unarmed recruits on their way to Washington DC.
Curmudgeons, Drunkards, and Outright Fools
(Thomas P. Lowry)
Brief, and frequently humorous, accounts of every court martial of Union Colonels in the Civil War. No information what so ever to help with gaming, but a fascinating window onto the period. One colonel admitted to drinking on duty, but denied that he could have possibly been drunk, because he was so obvioulsy a gentleman that strong liquour clearly would not have had that much affect upon him. Worth the purchase price just to read about the 53rd New York volunteer Zouaves. To quote the book, "The story has it all: shipwrecks, documents in French, vicious dogs, riotous diners brandishing forks and throwing spoons, flamboyant heroism, and a three year regiment that was disbanded two and a half years early for being a nuisance.
Dynamite Fiend, The
"The Chilling Tale of a Confederate Spy, Con Artist, and Mass Murderer." A Scottish immigrant to Canada (Halifax) sides with the Confederacy and helps to organize blockade runners, but somehow can't help himself from using the illegal activities to rob his fellow Rebels. It sort of starts out like "The Producers" but in defense of slavery. Sandy Keith organizes half a million dollars worth of supplies for Confederate agents, but only buys $10,000 worth. Then insures the shipments, including 6 locomotives of which he's only purchased 1, at full value. The ships mysteriously sink, and he cashes in the policies for the full face value, then skips town to hide out in rural Illinois. Pursued by angry, former Confederate, creditors he flees to Germany where he spends his way through more than a quarter of a million dollars. Strapped for cash he designs a clockwork dynamite bomb, inserts it into a shipment to America, over insures the crate, and awaits events. And, of course, the Pinkertons are involved.
Like Men of War - Black Troops in the Civil War
(Noah Andre Trudeau)
Very useful for the ACW gamer. It provides; maps, table of organization, and unit strengths for numerous engagements involving black troops. For the gamer it's perfect in organizing smaller sized Fire & Fury scenarios if one simply switches the game scale down from the brigade to the battalion level. For those simply interested in History of the war it's a fascinating read in its own right.
(Elizabeth D. Lenonard)
The story of the Lincoln assasination, sort of. Really more a chronicle of various Radical Republican officials and their drive to connect John Wilkes Booth with Jefferson Davis and to press on with an activist form of Reconstructin after the Civil War. An even more unflattering portrait of Andrew Johnson than usually presented in American History books. If that's actually possible. Not a whole lot of stuff to be used with 'little lead dollies.'
Sibley's New Mexico Campaign
(Martin Hardwick Hall)
The fascinating tale of the Confederate invasion, rebels would have called it liberation of the New Mexico Territory. Most of the fighting took place in that part of the territory which is now the state of Arizona instead of the neighboring state of New Mexico. The book is a bit weak on maps, but does provide excellent unit strengths and verbal descriptions of the terrain over which the battles were fought. So gamers could refight these little known battles, perhaps with the Fire & Fury rules. Of course the 'armies' were so small that instead of using brigade size units one might have to try individual companies, or even pairs of companies.
Team of Rivals
(Doris Kearns Goodwin)
Again, not really a book about or for gaming, but well worth the read. Tells the story of the Lincoln cabinet, and how most of them, well 5 of them, ran for the position of US President.
That Body of Brave Men
(Mark W. Johnson)
The History of the Regular US infantry and the Civil War in the West. Originally purchased on the mistaken belief that it would be about California and Arizona. However, it's actually a very useful, and heavy, tome about US Regulars, as opposed to volunteers, following U.S.Grant during his Western Campaigns. Very useful for gamers in that it provides much information about unit strengths, and some very useful maps showing the major battles. These maps also show where the regulars served within the big battles, so that gamers can recreate just these combats as if they were smaller engagements.
Army Uniforms of World War 2
Excellent, though brief, summaries of the uniform regulations including such participants as; Bulgaria, Greece, and Romania. Also 257 color images, most of which appear to originally have been black and white photographs 'colorized' to more accurately represent the uniforms.
Medieval Military Dress: 1066 - 1500
133 pages of illustrations and text displaying arms, armor, and some of the heraldry of the peroid. Also two separate glosseries, one for armor and one for heraldry. No real information on unit sized or organization, but plenty of detail on what your medieval miniatures should look like.
Military Uniforms of the World in Colour
From Bandford Press: 1968 Contains 512 very helpful color images of uniforms from 1506 to the 'then current' 1965. Very useful for painting IF the uniform you want is actually in the book.
World War I
11th Month 11th Day 11th Hour: Armistice Day, 1918
(Joseph E. Persico)
Supposedly a collection of anecdotes about the last 24 hours of the Great War. However, it's really a largely disorganized lump of anecdotes about the whole war which somehow relate to the last day. Perhaps the most entertaining story being how corporal A.Hitler's squad made fun of him for not wanting to talk about girls.
1918 The Year of Victories
(Martin Marix Evans)
The story of The Great War's last year, with numerous interesting facts buried in the narrative. The German high command thought that the French were their most dangerous opponents. The British high command weren't nearly the boobs from 1916, and the German high command weren't nearly the rocket scientists that their reputation suggested. A very interesting book, hampered by some largely irrelevant maps which do actually illustrate the areas described in the text, but which contain so few place names that the reader never really knows where anything was happening.
Burden of Guilt, The
(Daniel Allen Butler)
The author uses newly digitized telegrams and letters sent between the various departments of Imperial Germany to argue that the Kaiser's government didn't just stumble into a world war. They engineered it in the hopes that, somehow, everyone would drop out except Russia. Providing Germany with the opportunity to smash Russia before the Tsar's army and economy had modernized enough to become an unbeatable threat.
Very much a sort of 'Titanic' story, where everything has to go wrong to create World War I.
And it does.
Millionaires' Unit, The
"The Aristocratic Flyboys Who Fought the Great War and Invented American Air Power." Lots of interesting photos that help tell the story of the Yale rowing team, and some of the field hockey team, who went on to found the first 'Airborne College ROTC Reserve Unit.' There's lots of bravery, lots of flying, (mostly strange boat like things), and some of the lads die heroically. But at its core, it's an odd tale of American mavericks fighting against various bureaucracies. And not really winning. At least they all had the opportunity to date the extremely friendly, and out going ladies of Paris.
Mimi and Toutou's Big Adventure
"The Bizarre Battle of Lake Tanganyika." An unusually flattering account of Spicer-Simpson's operation to drag gunboats through the central African jungle to confront the Imperial German Navy's fleet (only 3 ships) on Lake Tanganyika. It's not a truly flattering portrait of Spicer-Simposn, but by comparison with other accounts, well you get the idea. Entertaining and actually useful for wargamers. It has maps, accurate descriptions of armament, and even a set of ship silhouettes with accompanying performance specs. The first 10 chapters cover the W.W.I Spicer-Simpson 'campaign.' Then follows an account covering the shooting of the movie "The African Queen," which was loosely based upon the adventures of the gunboats Mimi & Toutou. And the book finishes up with a chapter chronicling the author's efforts to retrace the steps of the Royal Navy's Central African Operation. Perhaps the most fascinating piece of information is that in the movie the German cruiser 'Louisa' was played by the Tanganyikan ship Liemba, which was painted to look like a German warship. The Liemba had been refloated in 1920. When it was scuttled by its crew in 1916 it was the 'Graf von Gotzen' the heaviest warship on the lake, and the flagship of the Imperial German flotilla.
Paths of Glory: The French Army 1914-1918
An comprehensive history of a subject frequently foreign to English speakers, with many testimonials on the back cover from French Generals. ("I have never yet met a British historian who shows such understanding of the reality and actual experience of France in that war." General Andre Bach) And yet the text seems to lack the enthusiasm and verve that one would expect from a description of wartime experiences of French troops.
Storm in Flanders, A
The Ypres Salient, 1914-1918 - Tragedy and Triumph on the Western Front. Not just the Battle of Paschendaele (1917) but a history of all four bloody years, and the four different British armies that fought in the Ypres salient. It's the story of the front on which the high command first coined the term wastage (casualties during a time when no one was really attacking, or defending) A place were rainfall and shelling reduced the battlefield to the consistency of oatmeal. Where carrier pigeons had to be locked out of dug outs, because the shelling was so intense that they were afraid to fly away. And where it sometimes rained so heavily that the carrier pigeons could not fly, but tried to walk back to headquarters. A perfect hell on earth, with each battle more terrible than the last. With new and novel ideas always collapsing so that the generals just seemed to shovel more men towards the German machine guns. A must read, interestingly enough written by the same chap who wrote 'Forest Gump.'
World War II
Beyond the Beachhead: The 29th Infantry Division in Normandy
The story of an ordinary National Guard Division from June 6th until August 22nd 1944. The gamer will find many useful maps as well as many tables of organization and lists of weapons employed. The most interesting point in the whole book was that the German 352nd Division was poorly deployed, and attempted to hold Omaha Beach with only 2 out of its 7 battalions.
Brothers in Arms
The story of the 761st (negro) tank batallion. Raised purely for Public Relations the unit was shoved into the line during the later stages of the Battle of the Bulge when the US Army was pressed for trained manpower. It should be a riveting tale, but the author's workmanlike style doesn't show the story to its full value. Again, short o maps, but with some descriptions that might prove useful in creating games based on small unit actions.
Burma Road, The
A well written account of a little studied campaign. A bit of information on almost every allied commander in the CBI Theatre, but really a biography of US General Joe Stilwell during his stint as commander of US ground forces in Burma. Some nice general maps, but not a whole lot for use in W.W.II tactical gaming.
Convoy! Drama in Arctic Waters
Some use to gamers. It does list almost every warship in almost every major engagement on the Murmansk run. However, there is a surprising absence of maps. For almost half the book I couldn't quite understand why British merchant men were taking cover in a Norwegian Fiord only to discover that this safe haven was really in Iceland.
A very different approach to the Normandy invasion. Not a great deal on the actual fighting, but some very interesting information about the various deception schemes perpetrated upon the unsuspecting Germans. With some very interesting maps showing the locations of the units belonging to the two nonexistent Allied armies that the Germans thought would invade at the Pas de Calais, and in Norway.
Hilter's Greatest Defeat: Disaster on the Eastern Front
Chronicles the Soviet Summer Offensive of 1944. An event sometimes referred to simply as 'The Destruction of Army Group Center.' Although less well known than the earlier Battle of Stalingrad it was here that the German army suffered even higher casualties. Written in a straighforward, if flat, style the book includes numerous portrait photos, mostly of unfortunate German senior officers as prisoners, and a few maps which would be useful for plotting out games on the divisional level.
Hitler's Scientists: Science, War, and the Devil's Pact
Of no use what so ever in gaming, but still a fascinating read. It also covers the story of German science before National Socialism, and world science after. But the story of how Hitler's government concentrated on Applied science instead of Basic science, how they employed parallel competing projects, and insisted on rejecting so called Jewish Mathematics is just an absolute train wreck of prejudice and mismanagement.
(Edwin P. Hoyt)
The book reviews that I read made this seem like one of those psychological histories in which the author would attempt to explain Hitler's actions as rooted in his World War I national service. Instead in glosses over the Great War, and presents a very conventional history of his command decisions during the Second World War. Business like, but with nothing all that surprising.
INFERNO The fiery Destruction of Hamburg 1943
An account of the very first carpet bombing of a German city that contains both the expected, and the completely surprising. The sobering account of death and destruction comes as no surprise to anyone having read anything about the later raids on Dresden. On the other hand the chronicle of German reaction to the raid is completely at odds with the conventional wisdom that strategic bombing would never break the enemy's morale. The description of Herman Goring sobbing that Germany had now lost the war, not after Stalingrad, but after Hamburg certainly gives one pause.
"Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime Washington." An important story, about unknown people, doing important skullduggery in the American capital during the war. No gunplay or poison pills involved, but much; drinking, carousing, extra-marital affairs, losses of huge amounts of money to Senator Harry Truman at poker, publishing short stories in Colliers magazine, and script writing for Walt Disney. Oh, and Ian Fleming and Noel Coward have bit parts and after the war the hero writes the children's book "James and the Giant Peach."
Last European War: Sept 1939 - Dec 1941
Right up front, this is an interesting History book, but there really isn't a single thing in there that will help a gamer run a W.W.II scenario. That being said, it really is an interesting take on the first two years of W.W.2. The author's theory is that this was the last European war, because by the time both the Soviet Union and the USA entered the war it had become a global conflict. Furthermore, by that point all further major wars would now be giant sort of international struggles, so one couldn't consider wars as European any more. Maybe he's right, maybe he's wrong, but he does argue the point well. Oh, and his position is that Hitler may have been crazy, but that he wasn't stupid. So he's one of those historians pushing the theory that corporal H. realy did think that he was losing the war - Maybe in 1941, surly by 1942.
Last Mission, The
(Jim Smith and Malcolm McConnell)
Billed as 'The Secret History of World War II's Final Battle' this seems to have started out as Jim Smith's recollections of his final B-29 air raid on Japan. Malcolm McConnell then expanded it to include information about the Soviet invasion of Manchuria, dropping the A-bomb on Hiroshima, and the 'Remonstration' directed against surrender to the Emperor Hirohito. Seems that a group of Ultra-Nationalist army officers decided that the only way to defend Japanese society, and preserve the sacred dignity of the emperor was to launch a coup, seize the emperor, hold him hostage against his will, and continue the war using counterfeit imperial decrees until the entire Japanese population had been exterminated. Go figure, I don't get it either, but it was a fascinating read. Not really a lot for gaming purposes, unless you want to recreate the frantic search of the Imperial Palace for the wax recording of Hirohito's surrender speech. Then there's a map of the imperial grounds.
Operation North Wind
The last German offensive in on the western front in 1944. Planned to take advantage of the diversion caused by the Battle of the Bulge the Wermacht's efforts to retake Alsace was a hideous winter ordeal for both sides. The book is short on maps, but contains lots of general info for small unit actions along the lines of, "Company A was down to only 85 effectives and found themselves holding the tree line against two companies of the 6th SS mountain division, each with 125 men, and supported by 4 tanks."
Operation Sea Lion
Written by the man who refers to himself as "James Bond's uncle" (yes, it's Ian Fleming's brother) this is an account of German preparations to invade England in 1940 and the British preparations to repel it. The attitudes of the English defenders might best be described as typically quirky, whilst the self-delusions of the German high command are quite jaw dropping. Worth the purchase price just for the hysterical page # 98 on which the author recounts German intelligence analysts serious discussion of the riots they thought were taking place on cricket grounds all over Britain as part of the developing "revolt against plutocratic cricketers."
Path To Victory, The
Acutally, the full title is The Path to Victory: The Mediterranean in World War II. It's a very complete, and yet not cumbersome, history of the entire Mediterranean campaign. And by entire that includes; North Africa, Malta, the naval campaign, Greece, Yugoslavia, Abyssinia, and even Eritrea. It's a pretty complete view of the Mediterranean. It advances some conventional opinions (Mark Clark was a boob), some more unconventional ones (Rommel was a boob as well) and every now and then springs some delightful prose on the reader. The following description of Mussolini will serve as an example of the authors stylish turn of phrase, "He had bound over Italy as the handmaiden of a man whose savage capacity for evil made Mussolinit's absence of morals and cheap theatrics appear dilettantish by comparison." And no review would be complete without including the comments of a British officer about his Italian opponents, "The wretched Italian soldiery with their miserable uniforms, ersatz boots, unmilitary behavior and stupid bugle calls. What boobs they were. Like souls lost in limbo." No Anglo-Saxon prejudice there. Not a lot of useful gaming info, but well worth the read.
"The Nazi Raid on America." What happens when Nazi bureaucrats, who don't know what they are doing, an intelligence chief who doesn't want to participate, agents who are not qualified, and a field commander who is not mentally stable implement a plan to spend close to a million dollars under cover to sabotage the US aluminum industry. The result is that once in America the agents rush to spend their funds on numerous shopping sprees, whilst angling to see who can be first to turn in his comrades to J. Edgar Hoover.
Stalingrad; The Fateful Siege
A strong narrative with some very probing analysis. The author asks seemingly simple questions like, "In the second year of the war on the eastern front why didn't anyone in the German chain of command even consider that winter clothing might become necessary."
To Lose a Battle
The story of the French collapse in 1940 unfolds with a sad sort of inevitability. But before deciding that success is a particularly Teutonic trait, skip down and read about "Warfare and the Third Reich."
Vaagso Raid, The
(Joseph H. Devins)
One of those Bantam paperbacks recounting the tale of Britain's largest commando raid on Nazis held Norway. To destroy fish oil factories no less. Excellent information to organize a series of small unit actions without the large numbers of tanks and divebombers that gamers usually cram into the action. And the author recounts the personal participation of Captain P. Young, later a brigadier, author of the well known wargaming book 'Charge, or How to Play Wargames.'
War North of Rome, The
(Thomas R. Brooks)
A painfully accurate chronicle of W.W.II in Italy from June 1944 until May 1945. lists plenty of unit names, sizes, and weapons, but not quite enough maps to help the gamer recreated actual battles. It does tell what happened, but in a rather dry fasion that might cause the reader to not really care.
Warfare and the Third Reich
A Grand Strategic overview of that war machine. By half way through it becomes obvious that the Nazis had lots of little grey men, in boring little offices, with seemingly boring little jobs who were making big important mistakes, consistently and at almost every opportunity. A management team that was completely out thought, besides being out fought. A fascinating book, however, it won't give you a clue on how to run a W.W.II game.
Washington Goes To War
Completely useless for any sort of Wargaming, but a magnificently entertaining read chronicling the US home front in general, and the jaw dropping lunacy of the nation's capital as it managed the war. The most typical, if not the best, example being that of a department head strolling down to greet his newly arrived Under Secretary of Heavy Manufacturing. Upon arriving in the office he was stunned to see a 21 year old woman sitting behind the desk. When he asked what qualifications she had for overseeing the nations heavy industry during wartime she responded, "I believe that's completely explained in my job application. My uncle is a Senator."
Where Ghosts Walked: Munich's Road to the Third Reich
(David Clay Large)
The well written, and extraordinarily depressing, History of National Socialism in its brith place, Munich. Not a gaming book by any stretch of the imagination, but well worth reading. Very alarming to discover political groups more conservative than the Nazis, and 19th century German xenophobic Philosophy originally directed against the Prussians (as non-Germans) which was eventually redirected against other targets.