The British Expeditionary Force, The 1914 Campaign

B2163

In any centenary year, publishers churn out books to commemorate the date. The outbreak of WWI in 1914 has been no exception. With few exceptions, this event has produced a fine selection of books and, even where one campaign, or one battle, has been covered by several authors, each has offered fresh insight and provided a valuable additional book. This book fits into this situation. Many authors will naturally cover the 1914 Campaign on the Western front because it was the point were initial war of movement gave way to a unique and terrible form of fixed line fighting from trenches. That the German advance bogged down was due to the incredible bravery of the small British Expeditionary Force which tenaciously fought the very much larger German force and brought them to a standstill.

One of the valuable aspects of this book is that there are many battle maps and this very capably supports the text. A book well worth reading and a good starting point for all of those new readers who want to find out more about WWI and perhaps the parts played by family members a century ago.

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Temporary Heroes, Lieutenant Norman Cecil Down

B2164

In any centenary year, publishers churned out books in commemorate the date. The outbreak of WWI in 1914 has been no exception. With few exceptions, this event has produced a fine selection of books and even where one campaign of one battle has been covered by several authors, each has offered fresh insight and provided a valuable additional book. This book fits into this situation. It is a most enjoyable book and provides a refreshingly different approach.

Illustration is confined to an appendix with cartoon sketches. A great read

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Torpedo, The Complete History of the World’s Most Revolutionary Naval Weapon

B2162

There are very few weapons that changed military conduct and changed the balance of power at a stroke. The spear and the sword were important weapons, but they evolved relatively slowly over centuries. The club and the fire hardened spear were important to human development because they increased the success of hunting and improved the food supply. When shaped flint was added to create very sharp stabbing and cutting surfaces, they advanced the development of spear and sword. The discovery of copper, and then of iron, made these weapons considerably more effective, but their basic use differed little. Siege engines were battle changing weapons and the longbow challenged the armoured knight so effectively that small English armies were able to take on much larger French armies with mounted knights and win. Gunpowder was a battle changing discovery and the development of cartridge ammunition made the machine-gun possible, leading to a complete change in the nature of battle by 1914. The aircraft was a fundamental step forward, as was aerial bombardment and the introduction of nuclear weapons. However, the torpedo still stands out as revolutionary weapon. The author has produced a memorable book to match the subject, providing a complete history and including a large number of illustrations, many of which are rare. The book will obviously appeal to every enthusiast and historian as a unique reference work, but it will also appeal to a much wider audience. An excellent account of an outstanding weapon system.

The author has produced a very detailed history and this book will become a reference standard in its class.

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Nelson’s Mediterranean Command

B2161

The author has covered the most dramatic period of British naval history. It was a period of enormous risk and one that represented one of the most dangerous eras of British history. Britain had been ill-prepared for the French Revolution and its implications for British security. The Royal Navy had established supremacy during the Seven Years War when it gained the initiative over the French at sea. However, the RN and its ships had been neglected in the intervening years, requiring old ships to be brought into service, or uprated, and led to the Press Gang becoming the scourge of civilians, as the Navy increased its manpower. In 1798, Napoleon had risen to power in France and become the major force in Europe. The author has captured the period well and provided a gripping account of the political processes in London as senior military figures manoevered for the prime commands. In this environment, the elevation of Nelson to command in the critical Mediterranean theatre seemed an unlikely choice and certainly a controversial decision that led to a challenge to duel, the King’s intervention, and, eventually, to Nelson’s outstanding victories. A book well worth reading by those interested in any or all of: Nelson; Napoleonic Wars; politics; British history; war at sea; wooden warships; naval tactics; Royal Navy, and; the basis for Empire.

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The World of Mummies

B2160

The author is a well-established specialist in the study of mummies and his original work has been translated into English by Cordula Werschkun. The translated version reads well and is likely to be error-free. Mummies have long prompted wide interest, and some horror, with the Egyptian mummies being arguably the most famous. What many readers may not know before reading this book is how the discovery of mummified remains stretches around the world and through the ages. Not all of these mummified remains were deliberately created by a complex process of human preparation. This book provides a comprehensive review of the natural and artificial processes with a range of examples indicating the distribution of ‘finds’. This may be the most extensive reference book to have been published on this intriguing subject.

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Early Ships and Seafaring, European Water Transport

B2159

This book covers the relatively new specialization of water transport in archaeology. It is a delightful and informative book that is illustrated throughout with single colour sketches and photographs. Water transport has been curiously under-covered, even though it was of vital importance to developing civilizations and continues to be important today. This is a book that should be widely read because it recounts the way in which water and water transport has shaped human development. Highly recommended.

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The Archaeological History of Britain, Continuity and Change from Prehistory to the Present

B2158

The author has been responsible for a major achievement. Somehow he has managed to adequately cover the archaeology of 800,000 years of British history in a relatively short book that also includes a full colour plate section that captures some of the key points of that history. This is an essential text for students of history, archaeology and classical civilization, but it is also a book that deserves a wide readership. The fascination with history, and particularly in archaeology, has included a cross section of society and ages. It is a very readable text and presents case studies to illustrate the range across 800,000 years of history. An excellent book.

The case studies included and reviewed by the author produce some fascinating insights and dispel some of the myths and legends that have distorted our understanding of history in the past. Readers will take away from this book new understanding and improved understandings. As in the sub-title, the author has presented the continuity and changes from prehistory to the present. This is a book that is worth reading and enjoying.

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