The Crusades


A well-written illustrated history of the Crusades which so defined Medieval history. The author involves the reader in the tale and presents the major characters from the Islamic, Byzantine and Christian empires. Text and images blend into a compelling story. There is good use of full colour where available. Recent colour photographs form a seamless tapestry with some rare full colour illustrations from the period, black and white photographs, reproductions of Medieval drawings and paintings, and maps and sketches. In a period when life was short, brutal and hard, religion and perceptions of an afterlife took on an importance that is difficult to imagine in a different age but the author conveys that perspective. A thousand years on and we are again experiencing some of the religious and racial tensions that were central to the Crusades

The Cruiser HMS Belfast


A volume in the series of Conway Anatomy of the Ship books. Primarily aimed at model engineers and serious students of ships and ship design. Its strength is in the fine quality of the illustrations which are excellent and include a 1/350 scale fold-out plan inside the dust jacket. There are some good detail photographs of Belfast and the Walrus amphibian bi-plane carried during WWII

The Concord Story


This book is excellent value for money and a superb souvenir of one of the greatest aircraft of all time. Having flown on a prototype and then been present years later when that same aircraft flew in become a major attraction at a museum, this reviewer has a strong affection for Concorde and was delighted to be given such an excellent book on her to review. The jacket image that accompanies this review was scanned and the method of printing which provides such a high quality image in the book itself does not scan well and does not do justice to the book. Books come in all shapes and sizes and this is an interesting presentation of information. Priced at a level that is affordable as a small present to a young enthusiast and well within the scope of pocket money. The content will appeal to people of all ages and across a wide range of interests. It is essentially a photo essay on a beautiful aerial machine that is a tribute to British and French engineering skills, but an amazing amount of information has been put into the text

The Clyde At War


This book is principally an interesting collection of B/W photographs covering many aspects of how both World Wars affected Clydeside. Not Surprisingly, the authors have devoted a large part of the book to naval activities including shipbuilding and the Atlantic campaign. The brief narrative and extended captions put these images into perspective although sadly the captions do suffer from a number of factual errors

The Clyde – The Making of A River


This is perhaps of more interest to readers as a companion to the Hugh Peebles’ book Warship Building On The Clyde. It covers the transformation of the Clyde itself from its shallow shoal filled natural state to a waterway capable of taking mighty ships such as the battleship HMS Vanguard and the two liners Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth all of which were built by John Brown and Co. The thoroughly researched text is complimented by an interesting selection of B/W photos including one of Vanguard on trials at the Tail of the Bank

The Caledonian Canal


The author traces the story of the Caledonian Canal from Thomas Telford’s first survey in 1801 into the Twenty First Century. The building of the canal is one of the heroic stories from the age of canal building. It was an enormous undertaking that cut across the rugged Scottish terrain from the West Coast to the North East. It was the biggest canal of its day with twenty two miles of artificial cutting and twenty eight locks. It was as great an undertaking as the canals of Suez and Panama. From Loch Linnhe, it is 62 miles, 99 km, to Inverness, via Loch Lochy and Loch Ness. The author explains why the canal was built and provides a full history with an outstanding selection of illustrations, including many that readers will have seen nowhere else. After the First World War, proposals to widen the canal were rejected

The Buccaneers


The author is founder and Chairman of the Buccaneer Aircrew Association and was awarded the MBE for his role in introducing the Buccaneer to the RAF, having flow in Buccaneers with the Fleet Air Arm. It should therefore be no surprise that this is a book written with authority and affection for the subject. The Buccaneer was a very important naval aircraft, providing the FAA with a nuclear jet bomber that could fly from carriers, with weapons held in a rotary internal bomb bay. After the Royal Navy lost its last fixed wing carrier, HMS Ark Royal (IV) [Definitive book; Britain’s Greatest Warship – HMS Ark Royal IV, Richard Johnstone-Bryden, Sutton], the Buccaneer began a new life with the RAF, serving with distinction and playing an important role in Operation Granby/Desert Storm, the 1990/91 Gulf War. During her career, the Buccaneer saw major changes in the British aerospace industry, starting life as the de Havilland Gyron-powered Blackburn Buccaneer S1 and entering FAA service as a white painted nuclear ship-board bomber. As the Blackburn aircraft company was absorbed into Hawker Siddeley and this company eventually became a part of British Aerospace, the Buccaneer took on new roles and the S2 was equipped with two Rolls Royce Spey 101 engines

The Bismark


There have been many books about the Bismark. This book provides good value as a hard back volume at prices more usually applied to soft back. It contains good blackand white photographs and also good colour illustrations and some full colour photographs. It actually tells the story both of Bismark and her sister ship Tirpitz. Unlike many books on the subject, it tells the complete story, including the archaeological dive to the wreck of the Bismark. There is everything that a first time reader of the subject could need to paint a full picture and then to explore deeper with other books. Equally, this book would be much at home in an extensive library of the Bismark legend. Spellmount have begun production of a series, Weapons Of War, into which this book admirably fits

The Big Bang


There have been only a small number of discoveries that have truly changed the world. One discovery was that of explosives. The author has begun his history with another monumental discovery, fire. Without the discovery of fire there would have been no explosives and without explosives there would have been no guns, no combustion engines, no aircraft, no submarines, no space travel, no fireworks, no bombs. There have been many claims and counter claims as to the time and place of the discovery of explosives. Some of the early materials used for fire birds and fire arrows are potentially explosive but no one can be sure whether the discovery of what came to be called gunpowder was a natural discovery inspired by some early incendiary materials, or by something very different. Equally, it is difficult to be sure whether the use of early explosive powders was as a propellant or as an explosive blast generator. Certainly, early gunpowder was used to power simple rockets, to propel projectiles and to make bombs. It was also used in various ways for entertainment in the form of fireworks. Explosives revolutionised society. Suddenly, armed might no longer depended on physical strength. Even early firearms could be used by man, woman and child from ambush. The pistol allowed anyone to get close to a target before firing. Canon enabled ships to fight at some distance from each other and for shot to prove fatal to large warships. Canon brought the dominance of castles and fixed fortifications to an end, making warfare mobile again. Explosives provided the means to cut through mountains and to destroy buildings across increasingly large areas. Combining the canon shell and explosives produced a bomb that could be delivered to a target from some distance. Eventually locomotive torpedoes and aerial bombs provided new and devastating ways of delivering explosives to a target. The author has traced all of this development through to its ultimate conclusion with the fission and fusion explosives that can destroy cities with a single weapon

The Bedford Triangle


This is a fascinating book, made possible through the US freedom of information legislation and contributions from enthusiasts, researchers, and members of the reunion groups of those who served in undercover operations during WWII. This is not the full story because an amount of information in British archives is still sealed and may be for decades yet. However, this is a well researched work that sheds fresh light on an important and necessarily shadowy part of US and British activities behind enemy lines. There are sixteen pages of photographic plates in black and white, including some very rare and previously unpublished images. The book takes its name from the concentration of US and British covert operations and intelligence units in the County of Bedfordshire, although there were locations throughout the British Isles used by OSS, SOE, SIS and BCCS