Roll of Honour, Schooling & The Great War, 1914-1918


Remarkably little has been written about the relationship between schools and the First World War, published to be available to the widest readership. There are vast amounts of documents, in the form of articles and papers about specific schools, published over the last hundred years and mainly existing in archives, never having been widely read. Happily, Pen & Sword has been publishing some important books that attempt to correct the omission, also starting on similar coverage of WWII. In 1914, the situation was unique. The Battles of Trafalgar and Waterloo had given Europe a long period of relative peace. True, the Germans had begun sharpening their swords for the Franco-Prussian War, but there had been nothing to resemble the long periods of religious and national wars that had swept Europe for a thousand years and more. The Great War shattered that period of relative peace and the failure to end the conflict honourably and effectively had created the seeds of the Second World War and, in turn, the Cold War. It is still unclear whether the Cold War ended, or just became another shaky armistice. It is also unclear how the unfinished business from 1945 in the Middle East will be resolved, or the how the competition in the Pacific Rim may provide a new trigger for war. What is certain is that the circumstances of 1914 cannot be replicated at all levels in society. This book is therefore not only an affectionate, sympathetic and moving account of the relationship between schooling and WWI, but one of the very few books to explain a key aspect of that war.

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Most Earth-Like Worlds Have Yet to Be Born, According to Theoretical Study


arc of Earth-like planets against the cosmos
This is an artist’s impression of innumerable Earth-like planets that have yet to be born over the next trillion years in the evolving universe.
Credits: NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI)

Earth came early to the party in the evolving universe. According to a new theoretical study, when our solar system was born 4.6 billion years ago only eight percent of the potentially habitable planets that will ever form in the universe existed. And, the party won’t be over when the sun burns out in another 6 billion years. The bulk of those planets – 92 percent – have yet to be born.

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A good novel should contain elements of the truth, pace, variation, suspense, highs, lows, and story line that is exciting, holding the attention of the reader to the last page. This latest cracking yarn in the Kydd and Renzi saga is a very, very, good novel. Once again there is a challenge for the reviewer. How can the best efforts of a well-established author be adequately conveyed without ruining the readers’ enjoyment of working through the plots and counter-plots. Any existing reader of this series of nautical novels from the age of Nelson will have been waiting with increasing impatience for the publication of the next story. Whatever this reviewer may write will make no difference for these readers. They are firm fans. However, the readership continues to grow and grow. The stories are translated into more languages and the books become available in more formats. Be assured that this new book is worth every penny of the hard back price and more. Be warned that the series is habit forming and new readers will want to go out and buy all the preceding instalments. Enjoy.

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When the Office Went to War, War letters from the men of the Great Western Railway


In any book that is a collection of primary source documents, it can be difficult to decide whether an author is genuinely the author or an editor. In this book it is even more of a challenge because the two authors have created a structure that is every bit authorship, but they have also performed an essential editorial function in selecting and incorporating the primary source documents. The result is a powerful and delightful book that conveys the hopes and experiences of a group of people who are communicating with those colleagues left behind in civilian jobs. Highly Recommended.

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Metropolis, Mapping the City


Conway is an imprint that has long enjoyed a reputation for producing fine visual books where images have been reproduced to a high quality in monochrome and full colour. This is a book in that tradition and the result is impressive. This is a serious review of the development of the city and its impact on civilization, but it is also an art book with lavish illustration in the Conway tradition. The author has traced the development and visual recording of the city from ancient times to modern day. This is a complex and vital story that is told clearly and which benefits from the fine illustration. This book is a treat both visually and from its compelling text. A great story that affects all of us.

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The Anthology of Ancient Egyptian Texts, Life Through Literature


This is a fascinating compendium of Ancient Egyptian literature. Constanze Holler has selected a range of literature and the original book was written in German, being translated for this edition by Cordula Werschkun. It brings to life the Egypt of the Ancients. A delightful flavour of Ancient Egypt.

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Invasion, The Alternative History of the German Invasion of England 1940


Alternative histories can be fun, they can also be provoking, they may rest on thin foundations and be less than credible. This new book shows solid research, interesting observations and conclusions and has a high credibility factor. Often books of this type are an acquired taste. They offer a possible history which is different from that which has been established. However,there is much to learn and consider from this book which is recommended to anyone interested in the art of the possible and the reasons why it was not the actual outcome.

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Big Gun Battles, Warship Duels of the Second World War


The author has addressed one of the neglected aspects of naval warfare in WWII, namely gun duels between major warships. The aircraft, carriers, torpedoes, bombs and submarines had reached maturity by 1939 and dictated much of the conflict at sea. Deservedly, they merited the lion share of attention in the news of the time and in the subsequent history coverage later. The author has introduced some balance. There were still gun duels and there were Fleet actions. They had an impact on the course and outcome of war. The able text shows careful research and the book contains a considerable number of illustrations through the body of the book. An excellent and rewarding story of the last hurrah of the naval big gun.

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Kamikaze, To Die For The Emperor


The Kamikaze pilots were prepared to die for their Emperor who was a God. That places the act of suicide in special psychological area. The formation of suicide squadrons was an act of desperation. Japan no longer had aircraft that could take on Allied planes on an equal basis with experienced pilots, but there were then also few experienced pilots left. Most aircrew were short on experienced and rushed into an unequal battle. They lacked the numbers of aircraft, skilled pilots and technology to attack the frequent B-29 raids, or to attack the next Allied amphibious landings. The author has provided an engaging account of the Japanese Kamikaze. It is also a disturbing story and a sad story. This is a book not to miss.

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Victory in Italy, 15th Army Group’s Final Campaign 1945


The war in Italy has been much under-rated. Churchill sold it as attacking the soft underbelly of the Axis, but there is more than a little evidence that he used the words as a sales pitch rather than as a genuine belief. On so many levels, the Italian campaign was entirely logical and necessary even though the Americans saw it differently. The author has written an absorbing account of the final campaign and provided insight and solid research. The illustrations are supportive with a good photo-plate section and appropriate maps. This is an important book about an important campaign. Recommended.

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