books monthly december 2019 pen and sword books
  books monthly christmas issue 2019
  superb new historical books from pen and sword!


Welcome to the Pen and Sword page, on which you'll find a wide array of books on various social and historical subjects. Pen and Sword are the world's foremost historical and military publishers, and I can guarantee to always have a large selection of their latest titles in Books Monthly.

Book of the Month - Claire Laurent: Rituals and Myths in Nursing

 Published by Pen and Sword 7th October 2019

Nursing is a complex profession steeped in tradition and history. Tried and tested ways of working have been the mainstay of how and why nurses do what they do. Completing tasks in a certain way because Sister says so describes the custom and practice of nursing, passed on through the generations that existed for most of the 20th Century and can still hold sway today. Science and evidence-based practice have weakened the hold on tradition but ritual is still part of the fabric of nursing. Packed with amusing and sometimes poignant reminiscences this book paints a picture of nursing from the first registration of SRN No 1, Ethel Bedford Fenwick in 1919, to the present day. Each chapter follows a theme, explores the historical background and brings it to life with stories told by nurses from different eras. We have tales of alcohol prescribed to dilate blood vessels or simply for the feel good factor. Enemas were less fun, given for almost all bowel conditions; High, hot and a helluva lot!' was the phrase for remembering this ritual. Written with humour and a light touch, readers don't need a nursing background to enjoy these stories, but those who trained as nurses will identify with many of the amusing and often eccentric traditions retold by generations of nurses.

Last It's exactly one hundred years since SRN1 Ethel Bedford Fenwick was registered as a state registered nurse, and Claire's brilliant book about how nursing has evolved lays bare all the practices that make this profession one of the most undervalued in today's heartless right wing society. I'm a huge fan of Holby City and Casualty (in the UK, of course, but they have followers all over the world, I believe), and they do their bit to try to bring attention to the way our nurses (and doctors) are treated by a self-serving and callous right wing government (at the time of writing, this is still the case). A thoroughly enjoyable look at the nursing profession.

Peter C Smith: The Dauntless in Battle

 Published by Pen and Sword 1st May 2019

The Douglas Dauntless was a Second World War American naval scout plane and dive bomber that saw active service during the course of this conflict and beyond, before being retired in 1959. US Navy and Marine Corps SBD's (Small But Deadly) saw their first action at Pearl Harbour and went on to enjoy an illustrious career thereafter. The Battle of Midway was an important milestone in the career of the Dauntless; they delivered the crushing blows to the Japanese carriers in June 1942. Action was also seen during the Guadalcanal Campaign, Operation Torch, the Battle of the Philippine Sea and the Pacific War. Peter C. Smith brings his many years of experience to this new publication, over the course of which the full history of the mighty Dauntless is relayed in exceptional detail.

I believe I may have owned a Douglas Dauntless as part of my Airfix aeroplanes in 1/72nd scale back in the 1950s/60s; indeed, I had most of the kits that Airfix offered in those days. The Dauntless is an American fighter plane, of course, and I may have concentrated on English warplanes, but the shape looks familiar, and Peter Smith's book traces its illustrious history throughout the second world war and beyond in vivid detail.

Paul Dawson: Napoleon's Waterloo Army Uniforms and Equipment

Published by Pen and Sword 3rd October 2019

When Napoleon returned to Paris after exile on the Island of Elba, he appealed to the European heads of state to be allowed to rule France in peace. His appeal was rejected and the Emperor of the French knew he would have to fight to keep his throne. In just eight weeks, Napoleon assembled 128,000 soldiers in the French Army of the North and on 15 June moved into Belgium (then a part of the kingdom of the Netherlands). Before the large Russian and Austrian armies could invade France, Napoleon hoped to defeat two coalition armies, an Anglo-Dutch-Belgian-German force under the Duke of Wellington, and a Prussian army led by Prince von Bl cher. He nearly succeeded. Paul Dawson's examination of the troops who fought at Ligny, Quatre-Bras and Waterloo, is based on thousands of pages of French archival documents and translations. With hundreds of photographs of original artefacts, supplemented with scores of lavish colour illustrations, and dozens of paintings by the renowned military artist Keith Rocco, Napoleon's Waterloo Army is the most comprehensive, and extensive, study ever made of the French field army of 1815, and its uniforms, arms and equipment.

This is a stunning book for collectors, lavishly and heavily illustrated with pictures of uniforms, arms and paraphernalia. Author Paul Dawson has covered everything you could think of, and the end result is a magnificent, comprehensive volume that will overwhelm and amaze you with its complexity and beauty.

Lucinda Hawksley: Dickens and Christmas

Published by Pen and Sword 30th October 2017

Dickens and Christmas is an exploration of the 19th-century phenomenon that became the Christmas we know and love today and of the writer who changed, forever, the ways in which it is celebrated. Charles Dickens was born in an age of great social change. He survived childhood poverty to become the most adored and influential man of his time. Throughout his life, he campaigned tirelessly for better social conditions, including by his most famous work, A Christmas Carol. He wrote this novella specifically to strike a sledgehammer blow on behalf of the poor man s child , and it began the Victorians obsession with Christmas. This new book, written by one of his direct descendants, explores not only Dickens s most famous work, but also his all-too-often overlooked other Christmas novellas. It takes the readers through the seasonal short stories he wrote, for both adults and children, includes much-loved festive excerpts from his novels, uses contemporary newspaper clippings, and looks at Christmas writings by Dickens contemporaries. To give an even more personal insight, readers can discover how the Dickens family itself celebrated Christmas, through the eyes of Dickens s unfinished autobiography, family letters, and his children s memoirs. In Victorian Britain, the celebration of Christmas lasted for 12 days, ending on 6 January, or "Twelfth Night". Through Dickens and Christmas, readers will come to know what it would have been like to celebrate Christmas in 1812, the year in which Dickens was born. They will journey through the Christmases Dickens enjoyed as a child and a young adult, through to the ways in which he and his family celebrated the festive season at the height of his fame. It also explores the ways in which his works have gone on to influence how the festive season is celebrated around the globe.

I have reviewed this brilliant title before, but it's always good to refer back to it to see just how instrumental in creating the Christmases we know and love today Charles Dickens was. It will soon be time for me to dig out my precious copy of A Christmas Carol, illustrated by the great Arthur Rackham, because Dickens, above any other author, is the one I associate with Christmas. Lucinda's book reveals the facts about Dickens and Christmas - it's a very readable book, a slice of social history involving a man who, more than anyone, encapsulates Christmas in literature.

Anthony Burton: Balloons and Airships

Published by Pen and Sword 30th September 2019

This book tells the often dramatic and always fascinating story of flight in lighter than air machines. For centuries man had dreamed of flying, but all attempts failed, until in 1782 the Montgolfier brothers constructed the world's first hot air balloon The following year saw the first ascent with aeronauts - not human beings but a sheep, a duck and a cockerel. But it was not long before men and women too took to the air and became ever more adventurous. The aeronauts became famous giving displays before crowds of thousands, often accompanied by special effects. In the early years, ballooning was a popular pastime, but in the 19th century it found a new use with the military. Balloons were used to send messages out during the Siege of Paris and later found a role as observation balloons for the artillery. But their use was always limited by the fact that they were at the mercy of the wind. There were numerous attempts at steering balloons, and various attempts were made to power them but it was the arrival of the internal combustion engine that saw the balloon transformed into the airship. The most famous developer of airships was Graf von Zeppelin and the book tells the story of the use of his airships in both peacetime and at war. There were epic adventures including flights over the poles and for a time, commercial airships flourished - then came the disaster of the Hindenburg. Airships still fly today and ballooning has become a hugely popular pastime.

This is a timely publication, coinciding with the release of the new blockbuster movie The Aeronauts, starring the great Eddie Redmayne, as it tells the true stories of flight pioneering in balloons and airships. Absolutely enthralling.

Jennifer Godfrey: Suffragettes of Kent

Published by Pen and Sword 23rd September 2019

Suffragettes of Kent delivers a thought provoking insight into the many stories of hope, determination, courage and sacrifice of those involved in the women's suffrage movement in Kent. Discover an untold story of a young working class Kent maid involved in the suffrage movement. See photographs of Ethel and learn of her arrest and imprisonment in March 1912 for participating in the window-smashing militant action. The 1908 Women's Freedom League van and the 1913 Women's Social and Political Union holiday tours of Kent are retraced, their messages and the Kent inhabitants' reactions explored. Details are included of Kent's involvement in the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies' mass pilgrimage from all parts of the country to London in 1913. Revealing the part Maidstone Gaol played in forcible feeding of suffragette prisoners the book includes an account written by the gaol's lead medical man. Detailing many links between national suffrage movement leaders and pioneers and Kent included are accounts of the visits, speeches and actions of Charlotte Despard, Emmeline Pankhurst, Annie Kenney, Emily Wilding Davison and Millicent Fawcett. Discover who was imprisoned in Maidstone Gaol, which pioneer was stoned by a Kent audience during her speech, who interrupted a Kent Liberal meeting in Tunbridge Wells, which woman challenged their Kent audience to do more for the cause and who was much celebrated on her visit to a Kent seaside town.

It's a bit like reading the screenplay for the film Suffragette! Vivid accounts of the abuse of and hardships experienced by the suffragette movement in the county of Kent. One of the most moving histories of the movement in Pen and Sword's brilliant series.

Patsy Westcott: Nuts and Seeds

Published by Pen and Sword 30th September 2019

Nuts and seeds such as almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds are bursting with vital nutrients. Even just a handful is rich with vitamins, minerals and fats, all of which we need, and which team up to help your heart, brain and waistline. As little as an ounce a day provides invaluable fibre, protein and immune-boosting minerals. Nuts and seeds contain mono and polyunsaturated fats, essential, healthful fats which are essential to maintaining the normal structure of every cell in our bodies. Meats, full-fat dairy, fried foods and processed foods are where the harmful forms of saturated and trans fats are found. Research shows that diets high in these unhealthy fats can lead to a host of diseases. Choosing healthy fats lowers cholesterol and enriches cell development, growth and repair.

I do like bread that has its crust peppered with seeds, and I like the fact that almonds are involved in the production or rather the creation of marzipan, which is one of the most marvellous creations of all time - but for me the love affair with nuts and seeds ends. Patsy Westcott does her best to convince me of something I'm missing out on, but I'm happy to exist on the periphery of nuts and seeds in the manner I've described. A superb treatise on the benefits of those foodstuffs, however.

Kate Brian: How To Stay Fit and Healthy During Pregnancy

Published by Pen and Sword 1st September 2019

This book features advice and guidance from an expert that is leading in her field, as it includes the latest research and information. As accredited by the RCOB. We are constantly bombarded with information about diet and fitness and how important this is to a healthy lifestyle, and there is an increasing focus on pregnancy as a phase of life when this really matters. Sifting out the evidence-based, accurate information can be a challenge, and that's where How to Stay Fit and Healthy during Pregnancy comes in. This evidence-based book is for every pregnant woman, and even those who have had no previous interest in exercise and diet will find encouragement to adopt a healthier lifestyle when they are expecting. For those who have been very aware of their fitness and health, there is guidance on how to adjust your regime to pregnancy. How to Stay Fit and Healthy during Pregnancy takes you right through the nine months of pregnancy,and looks at different ways to keep fit and supple when you are expecting. It explains the current guidance on healthy eating in pregnancy, also covering supplements and complementary therapies. It looks at common health problems that can occur when you are expecting and how best to help yourself through them. How to Stay Fit and Healthy during Pregnancy also recognises the importance of mental health and how this can be affected during and after pregnancy. It takes you through to the birth of your baby and lays the foundations for healthy parenthood ahead.

With a large proportion of the world's population succumbing to obesity, it's more important than ever, especially for pregnant girls and women, to stay fit - and healthy, of course. Kate's book is practical, informative and educational in a very clear and compelling sort of way. Essential reading for those ladies who are...

Daniele Cybulskie: Life in Medieval Europe

Published by Pen and Sword 30th September 2019

Have you ever found yourself watching a show or reading a novel and wondering what life was really like in the Middle Ages? What did people actually eat? Were they really filthy? And did they ever get to marry for love? In Medieval Europe in Fact and Fiction, you ll find fast and fun answers to all your secret questions, from eating and drinking to sex and love. Find out whether people bathed, what they did when they got sick, and what actually happened to people accused of crimes. Learn about medieval table manners, tournaments, and toothpaste, and find out if people really did poop in the moat.

Daniele's book on Medieval life in Europe is something of an eye opener. We all think we know something from books and TV programmes like Blackadder, and the Shakespeare history plays, but the reality is something different, and Daniele's brilliant book brings it all to life. If only this book had existed sixty years ago when I was doing O Level History! Brilliant.

Caroline Allen: The Krays' London

Published by Pen and Sword 7th October 2019

There are many conflicting stories about who Ronnie and Reggie Kray were. Films depicting their lives have made the public vilify them, adore them and even admire them. This guide book will dig a little deeper into the places they spent their time. Many of the places are renowned as the stomping grounds of the devious duo, but there are one or two exclusives that are not yet covered anywhere else, including the untold story of their lifelong hairdresser. Chapter by chapter, a map of their lives will reveal itself, making this the perfect read for anybody around the world interested in London s gangster scene.

I remember going home from a cinema visit to London in the early 1960s with police sirens all over the place as we went through the East End. I remember the newspaper reports of the time, and wondering how the police could allow such people to control the East End to such an extent, and to apparently countenance the horrors this evil gang inflicted on their own and their enemies. It was a horrendous time to be alive in the East End of London, and Caroline's superb book brings it all back to life.

J F Andrews: Lost Heirs of the Medieval Crown

Published by Pen and Sword 2nd October 2019

When William the Conqueror died in 1087 he left the throne of England to William Rufus his second son. The result was an immediate war as Rufus's elder brother Robert fought to gain the crown he saw as rightfully his; this conflict marked the start of 400 years of bloody disputes as the English monarchy's line of hereditary succession was bent, twisted and finally broken when the last Plantagenet king, Richard III, fell at Bosworth in 1485. The Anglo-Norman and Plantagenet dynasties were renowned for their internecine strife, and in Lost Heirs we will unearth the hidden stories of fratricidal brothers, usurping cousins and murderous uncles; the many kings - and the occasional queen - who should have been but never were. History is written by the winners, but every game of thrones has its losers too, and their fascinating stories bring richness and depth to what is a colourful period of history. King John would not have gained the crown had he not murdered his young nephew, who was in line to become England's first King Arthur; Henry V would never have been at Agincourt had his father not seized the throne by usurping and killing his cousin; and as the rival houses of York and Lancaster fought bloodily over the crown during the Wars of the Roses, life suddenly became very dangerous indeed for a young boy named Edmund.

The author's knowledge of the Medieval period in these islands shines through as he or she takes us on a journey through the minefield of opposing factions fighting for the crown of England. Authoritative, educational and extremely entertaining.

David Marks: The Zeppelin Offensive

Published by Pen and Sword 7th October 2019

Fly, Zeppelin! Help us in the war. Fly to England, England shall be destroyed by fire. Zeppelin, fly!' Such was the hymn which the children sang; such the refrain which greeted the aged inventor, Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, wherever he went. Why was there this reaction across Germany? How did a handful of aircraft giving pleasure cruises become a fearsome fleet of rapacious giants encouraged to punish Germany's enemies? What were the images that became part of the public's wartime consciousness? Books on the Zeppelin raids during the First World War have, traditionally, focused on the direct impact of Britain, from the devastating effects on undefended towns and cities, the psychological impact of this first weapon of total war to the technological and strategic advances that eventually defeated the Baby Killers'. Now, drawing on the largest postcard collection of its kind and other period memorabilia, David Marks tells the story of the Zeppelin during the First World War from a viewpoint that has rarely been considered: Germany itself. From its maiden flight in July 1900, the Zeppelin evolved into a symbol of technology and national pride that, once war was declared, was at the forefront of German's propaganda campaign. The Zeppelin links the rampant xenophobia at the outbreak of the conflict against England (it almost never called Britain), France, Russia and their allies to the political doctrines of the day. The postcards that profusely illustrate this book show the wide-ranging types of propaganda from strident Teutonic imagery, myths and legends, biting satire and a surprising amount of humour. This book is a unique contribution to our understanding of the place of the Zeppelin in Germany's culture and society during the First World War.

This is a stunning book of illustrations of zeppelins at the time of the first world war and the air raids that began four long years of terror as the Germans claimed the skies above Europe. Absolutely enthralling, very colourful and informative.

Michael Green: United States Submarines 1900-2019

Published by Pen and Sword 2nd October 2019

In 1900 the US Navy took into its first submarine, the Holland VI, into service. With a single torpedo tube, it had a crew of six, weighed 82 tons and travelled submerged at 6.2mph at a depth of up to 75 feet. Contrast this to the 18 Ohio Class nuclear-powered submarines which entered service in 1981. Weighing 21,000 tons with a crew of 155, its underwater speed is estimated at 30mph at a depth of some 1,000 feet. It carries 16 nuclear warhead ballistic missiles with a range of 4,600 miles. This latest Images of War title provides a detailed insight into the many US Navy submarine classes. Particularly fascinating is the post Second World War programme of nuclear powered submarines stating with the Nautilius and progressing to the Skate, Thresher, Sturgeon, Los Angeles and George Washington. Admiral Hyman G Rickover's role as Father of the nuclear navy is examined in detail. This superbly illustrated yet affordable book is a must for all naval enthusiasts.

One hundred and nineteen years of submarine activity and development is covered to perfection in Michael Green's brilliant history of the USA's underwater exploits.

John S Harrel: Soviet Cavalry Operations During The Second World War

Published by Pen and Sword 10th September 2019

While the development of tanks had largely led to the replacement of cavalry in most armies by 1939, the Soviets retained a strong mounted arm. In the terrain and conditions of the Eastern Front they were able to play an important role denied them elsewhere. John Harrel shows how the Soviets developed a doctrine of deep penetration, using cavalry formations to strike into the Axis rear, disrupting logistics and lines of communication, encircling and isolating units. Interestingly he shows that this doctrine did not stem from the native cavalry tradition of the steppe but from the example of the American Civil War. The American approach was copied by the Russians in WWI and the Russian Civil War, refined by the Soviets in the early stages of World War Two and perfected during the last two years of the war. The Soviet experience demonstrated that deep operations (cavalry raids) against enemy rear echelons set the conditions for victory. Although the last horse-mounted units disappeared in the 1950s, their influence led directly to the formation of the Operational Manoeuvre Groups that, ironically, faced US forces in the Cold War.

It was a time when most armies had replaced their cavalry forces with tank and armoured fighting vehicles, but the Soviet cavalry was still used extensively in various Second World War campaigns, a fact perfectly illustrated and described in John Harrel's superb account of their deployment in the theatre of war. Very moving.

Darren Baker: The Two Eleanors of Henry III

Published by Pen and Sword 2nd October 2019

Eleanor of Provence was born in the province of her name in 1223. She has come to England at the age of twelve to marry the king, Henry III. He's sixteen years older, but was a boy when he ascended the throne. He's a kind, sensitive sort whose only personal attachments to women so far have been to his three sisters. The youngest of them is called Eleanor too. She was only nine when, for political reasons, her first marriage took place, but she's already a chaste twenty-year old widow when the new queen arrives in 1236. In a short time, this Eleanor will marry the rising star of her brother's court, a French parvenu named Simon de Montfort, thus wedding the fates of these four people together in an England about to undergo some of the most profound changes in its history. It's a tale that covers three decades at its heart, with loyalty to family and principles at stake, in a land where foreigners are subject to intense scrutiny and jealousy. The relationship between these two sisters-in-law, close but ultimately doomed, will reflect not just the turbulence and tragedy of their times, but also the brilliance and splendour.

Henry III is not one of our monarchs that is remembered as well as Henry IV, Henry V or Henry VIII, but Darren Baker uncovers some of his history, and in particular focuses on the women in his life, two of whom bore the Christian name Eleanor. Darren's history of the two Eleanors in Henry's life makes for a compulsive read for anyone interested in the years following the Norman conquest and the journey into Medieval England.

Nigel Blundell: A Century of Man Made Disasters

Published by Pen and Sword 2nd October 2019

This book is a catalogue of disaster - literally. Within its pages are the major man-made calamities that shocked the world throughout the twentieth century. It was a period during which the power and scale of industrialisation changed the planet, an unforeseen consequence being the creation of more human-created catastrophes than ever before experienced. The events recorded here include the needless carnage of history's worst air disaster when two jumbo jets collided on the island of Tenerife. We recall the horrors of Aberfan, the Welsh village in which schoolchildren were buried alive. The story of the explosion aboard the Challenger space shuttle reveals how warnings that were ignored led to the deaths of seven astronauts. And we report on the failings that caused the nuclear nightmare at Chernobyl, a poisonous blot on the face of the globe. These and the other misadventures in this book were all man-made and, it seems, just waiting to happen. A further link between these horrific events is that they were all caused by either folly or greed - or both. But despite the tales of monstrous misfortune, many also produced heart-lifting stories of human resilience, selflessness, sacrifice and heroism.

Nigel Blundell's selection of man-made disasters doesn't claim to be comprehensive, but for all I know, it may well be. For me, the most vivid and heart-rending disaster has to be the Aberfan coal tip collapse which claimed so many young lives, but there are accounts of other disasters in Nigel's book of which I had no knowledge or that I had forgotten. A fascinating book.

Richard Charles Cobb: On the Trail of the Yorkshire Ripper

Published by Pen and Sword 7th October 2019

Peter Sutcliffe, The Yorkshire Ripper, remains the most infamous serial killer in British criminal history. His reign of terror saw 13 women brutally murdered and the largest criminal manhunt in British history. Just like Jack the Ripper, his Victorian counterpart of 1888, he remains a killer of almost mythical proportions, yet the locations and circumstances surrounding his foul deeds remain a subject of confusion to this day .. until now. Using ground breaking new research together with the original police reports, newspaper descriptions and eye witness testimony, we can finally present the truth about what actually happened. For the first time in over four decades we re-examine the crime scenes and deliver the real story of the Yorkshire Ripper murders.

It was a time when the police seemed powerless to apprehend this monstrous man; they even interviewed him a few years before he was finally arrested. Richard's book uncovers the terrifying facts about the Ripper's murders, the places, the original police documentation etc., and the fact is that he should have been arrested and brought to justice a lot earlier than was actually the case. Absolutely fascinating, and terrifying at the same time.

Dick Kirby: Scotland Yard's Flying Squad - 100 Years of Crime Fighting

Published by Pen and Sword 2nd October 2019

Since 1919 Scotland Yard s Flying Squad has been in the forefront of the war against crime. From patrolling London s streets in horse-drawn wagons, it has progressed to the use of the most sophisticated surveillance and crime-fighting equipment. Between the Wars, the Squad targeted protection gangs who infested British racecourses and greyhound tracks. The highly effective Ghost Squad was formed to tackle black-marketeering in the aftermath of the Second World War. As crime figures soared in the 1950s and 60s the Flying Squad, as C8 Department was now known, became involved in the most serious cases nationwide The Great Train Robbery, Brink's Mat, The Millennium Dome and Hatton Garden heists. As always, the Squad concentrated on ambushing and arresting armed robbers in the act as, in police parlance, they went across the pavement . Despite many high-profile successes, allegations of corruption have haunted the Flying Squad and after the conviction of officers in 2001 there was a very real possibility of disbandment. Yet this most famous of police units survived and today continues to fight and be feared by the hardest of criminals. Drawing on first-hand accounts, Dick Kirby has put together a thrilling book that proves that fact is way better than fiction.

Dick Kirby's book on London's Flying Squad evokes memories of The Sweeney, and in more recent times, Lynda La Plante's young Jane Tennison series, in which Jane has just become a member of the Flying Squad. What a job they had to, and still do! Fascinating.

Paul C Levitt: Yorkshire - A Story of Invasion, Uprising and Conflict

Published by Pen and Sword 4th September 2019

This is a story about Yorkshire and its people, from the earliest period up to recent times. Foremost it is a story about invasion. Archaeological finds have shown that Yorkshire was occupied at a time when early hunters from continental Europe were not supposed to have ventured so far north. Growing populations on the European mainland made Yorkshire s fertile land and receding woodland a prime landscape for these first European farmers, and over time they would be followed by waves of invaders intent on pillage and land grabbing. From the north and west came the Picts and the Scots, while the Romans, Angles and Vikings arrived via the River Humber. The Normans would be the last to invade and seek to dominate everything they saw. Each invasion would leave its stamp on Yorkshire s culture and life, while battles would later be fought on Yorkshire soil during both the Wars of the Roses and the English Civil Wars. More than just a romp through the ages, this book reveals the key places where battles were fought and Yorkshire history was made.

You don't have to be from Yorkshire to appreciate this book, which contains a wealth of material on the historically strategic importance of the largest county in Britain. The book is written by someone who enjoys his subject well, and makes it both interesting and educational at the same time, which is no mean feat. Yorkshiremen are often portrayed as unfeeling, hard and uncaring, and some of those things may be true, but there is no doubting the steadfastness and the strengths and virtues of the inhabitants, as evidenced in the book.

Yearbook of Astronomy 2020

Published by Pen and Sword 2nd October 2019

Maintaining its appealing style and presentation, the Yearbook of Astronomy 2020 contains comprehensive jargon-free monthly sky notes and an authoritative set of sky charts to enable backyard astronomers and sky gazers everywhere to plan their viewing of the year's eclipses, comets, meteor showers and minor planets as well as detailing the phases of the Moon and visibility and locations of the planets throughout the year. To supplement all this is a variety of entertaining and informative articles, a feature for which the Yearbook of Astronomy is known. Presenting the reader with information on a wide range of topics, the articles for the 2020 edition include, among others, 200 Years of the Royal Astronomical Society; The Naming of Stars; Astronomical Sketching; Dark Matter and Galaxies; Eclipsing Binaries; The First Known Black Hole; and A Perspective on the Aboriginal View of the World. The Yearbook of Astronomy made its first appearance way back in 1962, shortly after the dawning of the Space Age. Now well into its sixth decade of production, the Yearbook is rapidly heading for its Diamond Jubilee edition in 2022. It continues to be essential reading for anyone lured and fascinated by the magic of astronomy and who has a desire to extend their knowledge of the Universe and the wonders it plays host to. The Yearbook of Astronomy is indeed an inspiration to amateur and professional astronomers alike, and warrants a place on the bookshelf of all sky watchers and stargazers.

Essential reading for anyone wanting to keep up to date with what's happening in the night sky. Having said that, we've had weeks and weeks of total cloud cover, often containing torrential rain, and it's been rare to see the moon, let alone any stars and constellations. Here's hoping for a drier spell in the run-up to Christmas, and a chance to identify the stars and planets that are visible to the naked eye. This is a compelling, invaluable book.

Brooke S Blades: The Americans - From Normandy to the German Border

Published by Pen and Sword 4th September 2019

This classic Images of War book takes up the story of the massive American contribution to the campaign in north West Europe during the autumn and early witner of 1944. Following the dramatic breakout from the Normandy bridgehead, events moved fast with the liberation of Paris quickly following and the Allies closed in on the German border. But the apparent collapse of the Nazis was illusory. As lines of communication lengthened and German resistance stiffened, the Allied High Command was divided on the right strategy. The ill-fated Operation Market Garden brought home the reality that the war would continue into 1945. The Siegfried Line was penetrated and Aachen fell but the American First Army suffered heavy casualties in the Hurtgen Forest. As winter set in, the third Army crossed the Moselle River and into the Saar. The stage was set for the costliest battle in American history - The Bulge, to be covered in the Third and final volume of this trilogy. With his superb collection of images and grasp of the historic significance of the actions so graphically described, Brooke Blades' latest book will be appreciated by all with an interest in the final stages of the Second World War.

The latest in Pen and Sword's invaluable and fascinating Images of War series shows the Americans in North West Europe. It's always been said that a picture paints a thousand words, and there are in all probability millions of words behind the exclusive and compelling collection of photographs in this stunning book.

The small print: Books Monthly, now well into its 22nd year on the web, is published on or slightly before the first day of each month by Paul Norman. You can contact me here. If you wish to submit something for publication in the magazine, let me remind you there is no payment as I don't make any money from this publication. If you want to send me something to review, contact me via email at and I'll let you know where to send it.


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The books below all make perfect Christmas gifts!