I don’t know about you, but reading a new book often sees me thinking about a new project or three. It works the other direction too, where a project has me reading heaps on a topic. Korea for example. So watch out! Here is a collection of some of the more interesting military history books I have read recently.
Now a photo of a book isn’t much use to anyone, so here are some mini-reviews too. Watch out! You might pick up a few ideas too.
Hungary In World War II by Deborah Cornelius (2011) is a social and political history of Hungary from the end of the first world war to the creation of the communist state in 1948, with a focus on the second world war. Given the only thing I read about the war in Hungary was the Bolt Action campaign book, Fortress Budapest I found this wide ranging book fascinating. Not short at over 400 pages, it is a terrific overview Hungary and her people.
Flashpoint Trieste by Christian Jennings (2017) looks at the events in and near Trieste on the Border of Italy, Austrian and (then) Yugoslavia in 1945. It was a complex and fast moving environment, where the Yugoslav Liberation Army, local anti-fascists, and the Anglo-American Allies competed to liberate and control Trieste. Fleeing Nazis and Italian Fascists, conflicting priorities and the needs of locals and refugees (returning and fleeing) all come together in a microcosm of events being played out across Europe at the time. The author desperately wanted a neat story arc, but history is messier than that and the book does just peter out in the end. The the first three quarters of the book is well worth the ride. And it’s a history book, you don’t have to read to the end (spoilers: the fascists loose).
Spearhead of the Fifth Army by Frank Van Lunteren (2016). The 504 Parachute Infantry Regiment is more famous for its participation in the Battle of the Bulge. Less well known are the hard fought campaigns in Italy. This is a well researched book, part of a longer series on the 504 PIR, with lots of quotes from the time. Not great if you want an overview of fighting in Italy but lots of great detail if you want to zoom in on smaller actions.
Armies of Empire by Allan Converse (2011) is an unusual book, comparing the experience to two divisions during the second world war, the 9 Australian and 50th British Divisions. The divisions had similar equipment and training and both fought in multiple theaters. The book is a rich discussion on training, leadership and morale. For wargamers this is a really thought provoking look at unit morale. Many rule sets have clear distinctions between green, regular and experienced troops. This books helps you see that while useful, life is more complex and nuanced.
Australia’s War with France by Richard James (2017). Overshadowed by Tobruk and other Western Desert battles, the British campaign to liberate Syria and Lebanon 1941 is fascinating. That the combatants included Australians, English, Indians, and Free and Vichy French is part of the fascination. The geography saw the fighting at company and smaller level, often with limited artillery or air support. The politics and complexity of the campaign are well explored. Nationalism, colonialism, anti-fascism, and (near) civil war all blend into a compelling narrative. If I start another desert army it will be two armies! Australians invading Lebanon and Vichy French defending them.
What books have you ready recently?