Category: Book Review

Book Review – Rudi Stiebritz, Pawn of War (Harnwell, Vic/Australia: Temple House, 2001)

Pawn of War is Rudi Stiebritz’s account of his service in the Wehrmacht serving on the Eastern Front in the Second World War and his captivity as a Soviet POW in the four years after the defeat of Nazi Germany. Stiebritz serviced predominantly with the 125th Infantry Division where he was a pioneer in the […]

Book Review – Bruce Cherry, They Didn’t Want to Die Virgins: Sex and Morale in the British Army on the Western Front 1914-18 (Solihull: Helion, 2016)

  Bruce Cherry’s book seeks to ‘reappraise the sex life’ of the British soldier serving on the Western Front during the Great War.[1] The motivation for his investigation is that ‘respected historians…have denied or underplayed the amount of sexual activity’ that soldiers had and this has led to a ‘historical and subliminal cover up’ of […]

BOOK REVIEW – J. Baynes, Morale, a Study of Men and Courage, (Barnsley: Pen & Sword, 1967 [Reprint 1987])

John Baynes’ book Morale explores the motivation and morale of officers and other ranks serving in the 2nd Scottish Rifles (Cameronians) during their involvement in the Battle of Nerve Chappelle in March 1915. At the end of the battle, on the night of 14-15 March, the unit was commanded by 2nd Lieutenant Somervail and one […]

Book Review – Denis Winter, Death’s Men (London: Allen Lane, 1978)

Denis Winter’s Death’s Men is a classic of the new type of ‘bottom up’ history the emerged in the late 1970s. This new genre aimed to explore the Great War from the perspective of the average combatant and a series of books were published that aimed to do this notably, Martin Middlebrook’s First Day on […]

Book Review – Johann Voss, Black Edelweiss (Bedford, Penn/USA: Aberjona, 2002)

Black Edelweiss is Johann Voss’ account of his service in the 6th SS Mountain Division during the Second World War. In early 1943, aged 17, he joined the 11th SS Mountain Regiment as a machine gunner and saw action in Soviet Karelia, Finland and the Vosges in France before being captured by US forces in […]

Book Review – Paul Martelli, On the Devil’s Tail: In Combat With the Waffen-SS on the Eastern Front 1945, and With the French in Indochina 1951–54 (Solihull: Helion & Co, 2015)

On the Devil’s Tail is the memoir of Paul Martelli and covers a decade of his life and military service fighting in the Waffen SS at the end of the Second World War and as a corporal with French forces in Indochina fighting Vietnamese insurgents. Martelli’s account suggests that he was born in May 1929 […]

Book Review – Peter Stanley, Bad Characters (ReadHowYouWant edn, 2010)

In this book, Peter Stanley outlines the military ‘crime’ that members of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) committed as part of their war service in the Middle East, Britain and Flanders during the Great War. He wrote it because ‘hundreds of books have been written about the ‘good’ – the most distinguished battalions, the best […]

Book Review – Dale Blair, Dinkum Diggers. An Australian Battalion at War (Melbourne, Australia: Melbourne University Press, 2001)

Dale Blair’s book compares the historical construction of the ‘digger’, the fabled Australian volunteer soldier who fought during the Great War, against the actual experience of ordinary Australian infantryman who fought with the 1st Battalion, Australian Imperial Force (AIF) at Gallipoli and Flanders. The ‘digger’ ideal emerged during the Great War. One description was cited […]

BOOK REVIEW – Bruno Manz, A Mind in Prison (Dulles, VA/USA: Brasseys, 2001)

Bruno Manz served as a NCO in the Luftwaffe and an unnamed mountain infantry battalion in Finland and Norway during the Second World War where he fought the Red Army and latterly, the Finnish Army. A Mind in Prison is his memoir of his childhood, military service and post-war life before he emigrated to the […]

BOOK REVIEW – James E. Kitchen, The British Imperial Army in the Middle East: Morale and Military Identity in the Sinai and Palestine Campaigns, 1916-18 (London/New York: Bloomsbury, 2014)

This book was one I had wanted to read properly for a long time; Christmas 2021 seemed the best time to read it. My maternal grandfather served in the Palestine Campaign in 1917-1918 as an officer in the Royal Garrison Artillery. I had hoped Kitchen’s book would give me some insight my grandfather’s experience but […]

Book Review – Franz Frisch, Condemned to Live (Shippensburg, PA/USA: Burd Street, 2000)

Condemned to Live is the memoir of Franz Frisch during his service in the Wehrmacht during the Second World War. He served as a private in two artillery regiments, the 109th and 557th, and saw action in Poland, France, the Soviet Union, Sicily and Italy.[1] Frisch was born in Vienna in 1919 and conscripted into […]

Book Review – Solomon Perel, Europa Europa (Munich: Wilhelm Heyne Verlag, 1993)

  This book is the memoir of Solomon Perel’s adventures during the Second World War. It is a well-known story and was told in the film of the same name released in 1990.   Perel was born into a Jewish family living in Peine, near Brunswick, in northern Germany in 1925.[1] In 1935, his parents […]

Book Review – Thomas Kühne, The Rise and Fall of Comradeship: Hitler’s Soldiers, Male Bonding and Mass Violence in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge, UK: CUP, 2017)

Thomas Kühne’s book examines the practice, meaning, definition and idea of comradeship amongst German soldiers fighting in the Second World War.[1] He defines comradeship as the ‘relationship people who cooperate, work, and live together not by choice but by coercion, accident or fate’. This is different from friendship that is rooted in the ‘self’ and […]

Book Review – Klaus Willmann [Lothar Herrmann], Death March Through Russia (Barnsley, Yorkshire/UK: GreenHill, 2019)

Death March Through Russia is the narrative that author Klaus Willman wrote of former German soldier Lothar Herrmann’s service in the Wehrmacht during the Second World War and subsequent time in captivity as a Soviet POW.[1] Herrmann was born in Breslau, modern-day Wroclaw in Poland, in September 1920 and he trained as a house painter […]

Book Review – Erhard Steiniger, Radio Operator on the Eastern Front (Barnsley, Yorkshire/UK: Greenhill, 2019)

Erhard Steiniger’s account covers his early life as a member of the German community in the Sudetenland area of Czechoslovakia and his service in the Wehrmacht during the Second World War. Steiniger was born in Langugest, Czechoslovakia, into the German-speaking minority known as Sudeten Germans.[1] His father was a farmer and Steiniger, after leaving school […]

Book Review – Gerry Villani [the account of Raymond Lemaire], The Crusade of a Walloon Volunteer, August 8 1941 – May 5 1945 (Self-published: Lulu, 2019)

The Crusade of a Walloon Volunteer, August 8 1941 – May 5 1945 is the memoir of Raymond Lemaire who served as a member of the Walloon Legion fighting for the Germans on the Eastern Front during the Second World War. The book was put together by Canadian historian Gerry Villani from 11 hours of […]

Book Review – Peter Bamm, The Invisible Flag (London: Penguin, 1962)

 Peter Bamm’s memoir is a fascinating account of his time as a Wehrmacht combat surgeon fighting on the Eastern Front during the Second World War. First published in English in 1956, the narrative chronicles Bamm’s experiences caring for wounded soldiers, POWs and civilians from the invasion of Russia in 1941 until he eventually escapes Russian […]

Book Review – Ann Buckley (Ed.) German Prisoners of the Great War (Barnsley: Pen & Sword, 2021)

(This review appeared in the WFA’s Stand To! journal in late 2021.) German Prisoners of the Great War is the first English translation of the 1920 book Kriegsgefangen in Skipton, an edited volume of German officers’ experiences as prisoners of war (POW) during the Great War at Raikeswood Camp (as it was known locally) in […]

Book Review – Helmut Pabst, The Outermost Frontier (London: William Kimber, 1986)

The Outermost Frontier is a transcription of series of letters sent by Helmut Pabst during his service in the 129th Infantry Division on the Eastern Front from the start of Operation Barbarossa to his death on 6th September 1943. Pabst was born in 1911 and before the war was a law student.[1] He started the […]

Book review – Guy Warner, Flying from Malone (Newtownards, NI – Colourpoint Books, 2012)

Flying from Malone is Guy Warner’s history of Belfast’s first airport that operated from 1924-25. The aerodrome was located in the south of the city off the Malone Road on the site now occupied by the Taughsmonagh housing estate. The land for the site was purchased by the council in the early 1920s and flights […]

Book Review – Susan B. Cunningham, Sir Crawford McCullagh, Belfast’s Dick Whittington (Donaghadee, NI: Ballyhay, 2016)

The book Sir Crawford McCullagh, Belfast’s Dick Whittington, is a biography of The Rt Hon Sir Crawford McCullagh, 1st Baronet (1868-1948) who was a draper, unionist councillor on Belfast City Council and held the position of Lord Mayor for a record 17 times.[1]   McCullagh came from humble origins. He grew up in County Armagh, the fifth […]

Book Review – Brian M. Walker, A History of St George’s Church (Belfast: Ulster History Foundation, 2016)

Brian M. Walker’s book is an excellent chronological institutional history of St George’s church located on High Street, Belfast, Northern Ireland. It was written to mark the church’s 200th anniversary in 2016. The book starts by considering the previous structures which stood on the site before St George’s was constructed in the early 19th century. […]

Book Review – John Killen, A History of the Linen Hall Library 1788-1988 (Belfast: Linen Hall Library, 1990)

John Killen’s A History of the Linen Hall Library 1788-1988 is a solid and worthy chronological narrative of the first two centuries of the Linen Hall Library (LHL). He starts by setting out how the library came of the intellectual ideas of the enlightenment and the social movement amongst literate and wealthy middle-class people to […]

Book Review – Lyn Gallagher, The Albert Memorial Clock (Belfast: The Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, 2004)

Lyn Gallagher’s The Albert Memorial Clock is a short pamphlet on the design, building and restoration of the building after which her publication is named. It was written to mark the completion of restoration work on the Albert Memorial Clock (AMC) in 2002. The original structure was completed in 1869 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s late […]

Book Review – Francis Higgins, Religion, Riots and Rebels, The Incredible History of Brown’s Square Belfast (Belfast: Belfast Lad, 2020)

Francis Higgins’ book, Religion, Riots and Rebels, examines the social and economic history of Brown Square and its residents from its establishment in the late eighteenth century to the present day. Today, this area is located in the centre of Belfast. It stands west of the City’s Cathedral quarter, its cultural and tourist hub, and […]

Book Review – J.C. Beckett (Ed), Belfast, The Making of a City (Belfast: Appletree Press, 2003)

J.C. Beckett’s Belfast, The Making of a City is an anthology of 12 essays by different historians on the social, political, economic and cultural development of Belfast during the Victorian and Edwardian periods. The nineteenth-century marked the period when the town of Belfast developed from a provincial market town of 20,000 in 1800 to an […]

Book Review: A.L. George, The Chinese Communist Army in Action: The Korean War and its Aftermath (New York, 1967)

Dr Alexander George’s book is a fascinating insight into how the newly created Chinese communist state in the late 1940’s sought to direct, sustain and shape small group relations in their People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and how this system functioned under the stresses of combat in during the Chinese intervention in Korea during 1950-51.

Book Review: J.A. Frank & G.A. Reaves, “Seeing the Elephant”: Raw Recruits at the Battle of Shiloh (Westport, Conn., 1989)

This excellent book examines the morale, attitudes and experience of Confederate and Union soldiers who fought at the Battle of Shiloh. It follows their journey from enlistment and training in 1861 at the start of the US Civil War, to their first experience of combat, ‘seeing the elephant’, at Shiloh in April 1862.

Book Review – S. Rabalais, General Fox Conner, Pershing’s Chief of Operations and Eisenhower’s Mentor (Havertown, Pa., 2016)

Steven Rabalais’ fascinating biography is the first to cover the life of US army officer Fox Conner (1874-1951). Connor served as ‘Black’ Jack Pershing’s Chief of Operations in the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) during the Great War and in the 1920’s became a close confidant, mentor and friend to Dwight Eisenhower.

Book Review: D. Bird, The Spirit of the Troops is Excellent, The 6th (Morayshire) Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders in the Great War 1914 – 1919 (Moray, 2008)

Derek Bird’s chronological account of the 1/6th (Morayshire) Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders, in the Great War is a solid unit history.

Book Review: S. Sandford, Neither Unionist or Nationalist, the 10th Irish Division in the Great War (Irish Academic Press, 2015)

Stephen Sandford’s excellent book on the 10th (Irish) Division is an in-depth study of the unit’s formation, its social composition, leadership and its service in the Eastern Mediterranean during the Great War.