Reviews: July 2012
This month it's all about the books; as Agincourt: The Story of a Battle,
Ian Fleming's Commandos: The Story of 30 Assault Unit in WWII and The One Inch Army II are review by our expert panel of reviewers.
The Story of a Battle
by Rosemary Hawley-Jarman
Reviewed by Stephen Maggs
Agincourt holds a great deal of fascination and pride in British military history and many books have been written on this fifteenth century battle. What then, I thought, could Rosemary Hawley Jarman’s book offer?
The books inside sleeve states; A small English expeditionary force in Northern France battling to reach the coast before being cut off by an enemy superior in numbers and equipment; a victory plucked from the jaws of certain-seeming defeat – this story is familiar in the twentieth century. It is also the story of Agincourt in the fifteenth.
|The author has recreated the whole, what she terms, ‘brief &
foolhardy’ expedition, that was mounted by 28 year old King Henry V,
determined to regain the realm across the Channel that he believed was
his by right. There is an excellent account of the siege of Harfleur, a
moated town, in northern France, situated along the river Lezarde,
which was bombarded with huge guns, trenches dug and the town’s wall’s
undermined. The capture of Harfleur proved costly for Henry as his
9,000 man army was reduced to some 7,000, many of those lost succumbing
to sickness- a good deal of them his valuable archers.
Although in a desperate state Henry refused to abandon the campaign the demoralized English left Harfleur, through hostile territory, for Calais, where they hoped to be resupplied with food and reinforcements from England. The French, with a mighty army of possibly upwards of 30,000 men had other ideas and after blocking Henry’s route of march offered battle at Agincourt on the 25th October 1415- St Crispin’s Day. For those unfamiliar to medieval warfare then this book might well just wet you appetite for more! The author’s account of the campaign and especially the battle is without doubt a page turner!
Suffice to say the campaign and battle are well covered, without being bogged down with too much information and statistics. The author has written a no nonsense account of the campaign that is easy to read, informative and well worth adding to your bookshelf. If you are planning to recreate Henry’s campaign on table top then the easy follow text and maps will certainly speed up your planning and understanding of the battle.
Hardback, 49 illustrations, campaign map, battlefield map showing dispositions of armies, epilogue, bibliography and 192 pages. Published by Amberley Publishing June 20th 2012.
||Ian Fleming's Commandos:
The Story of 30 Assault Unit in WWII
by Nicolas Rankin
Reviewed by Vincent Black
In 1942, Lieutenant-Commander Ian Fleming was personal assistant to the Director of Naval Intelligence - the dynamic figure behind James Bond's fictional chief, 'M'. Here, Fleming had a brilliant idea: why not set up a unit of authorised looters, men who would go in hard with the front-line troops and steal enemy intelligence? Known as '30 Assault Unit', they took part in the major campaigns of the Second World War, landing on the Normandy beaches and helping to liberate Paris. 30AU's final amazing coup was to seize the entire archives of the German Navy - thirty tons of documents. Ian Fleming flew out in person to get the loot back to Britain, where it was combed for evidence to use in the Nuremburg trials. In this gripping and highly enjoyable book, Nicholas Rankin, author of the best-selling Churchill's Wizards, puts 30 Assault Unit's fascinating story in a strategic and intelligence context. He also argues that Ian Fleming's Second World War service was one of the most significant periods of his life - without this, the most popular spy fiction of the twentieth century would not have been written.
|Nicholas Rankin chooses his subjects well, his delving and research revealing an untold fund of stories – some barely believable that hide beneath the surface. Having enthralled with his Churchill’s Wizards and the story of how human ingenuity pushed the barriers of camouflage and trickery he now in Ian Fleming’s Commandos reveals how Ian Fleming created a band of “official looters” to push through enemy lines to steal enemy intelligence. Their greatest coup was seizing the entire German Naval Archive, 300 tons of documents that proved to be of vital importance at the Nuremberg trials. And was it through 30 Assault Unit that Ian Fleming found the inspiration for James Bond? This really is top-grade military history, combining context, action and the political dealings into an enthralling whole – even the extensive notes are fascinating!
|The One Inch Army II
by Victor Rubik
Reviewed by Neil Smith
I consider myself to be a relatively mature forty-something, but give me a box of small plastic soldiers and I am twelve again, sitting in the corner playing, and very, very happy – I suspect I am not the only one who feels that way. I was reminded of those blissful moments recently when I came across Victor Rudik’s wonderful guide to those small plastic warriors, The One Inch Army II. If you want to revel in your own memories or begin an expansive new wargaming project, you need look no further than this magnificent tome.
As the title implies, The One Inch Army II builds
on Rudik’s first book of the same name. However, this sequel is much
bigger in scope, reflecting perhaps Rudik’s personal collection of
soldiers that now exceeds 270,000 pieces. This time, Rudik discusses
over 850 manufacturers from the iconic Airfix and Esci brands to more
recent players in the hard-plastic market such as the Perry’s and
|For each producer, Rudik includes a brief description and
history of the company with a detailed account of the product lines,
and he adds new sections on the state of the hobby as a whole. Indeed,
it appears that Rudik leaves no stone unturned in his pursuit of knowing
everything there is to know about small scale plastic figures. The
highlight of the book, though, is the extensive colour section
illustrating the multitude of plastic soldier packaging that fires
memories and takes you back to childhood days and that shiny new box
caught in your greedy little hands.
The One Inch Army II is not aimed primarily at
wargamers but collectors. Nevertheless, miniature soldiers are the basic
building blocks of our hobby, and for many of us, not just the
nostalgia buffs, plastic figures are the mainstays of our armies. So, it
is nice to know what is available. Moreover, the sheer range of figures
as described in this book is staggering and prods the wargaming
imagination to new heights; I’m looking at you Strelets and your Crimean
War range. Rudik’s conversational writing style is also engaging,
making it easier to overlook some errant typos. Overall, The One Inch
Army II is an excellent addition to any wargamer’s library, and a superb
starting point for that next escape into childhood.
The book’s ISBN is 9780973051711 and is published by Victor himself. A
number of hobby dealers are likely to stock it, but for more information
it is best to contact the author and publisher at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Last Updated On Friday, June 22, 2012 by Blake at Battlefront