October 2021 Books Monthly Review of books and stories magazine - on the web since 1998...
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New Pen and Sword titles for October 2021


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 hope to always have a large selection of their latest brilliant titles in Books Monthly.

Geoffrey Oldfield: Nottingham A to Z of Local History

 Published by Pen and Sword 7th January 2004

Aimed at visitors and residents alike, this companion to the history of Nottingham is an indispensable reference guide to the long, varied and sometimes surprising story of the city. Essential information on the people, places and events that played key roles in the story is presented in a convenient A to Z format. Famous and notorious individuals are portrayed here, dramatic, sometimes tragic events are remembered, and familiar local myths and legends are explored. The volume is a source of fascinating insights into Nottingham's past and should provide answers to frequently asked historical questions - the whos, wheres and whys that make up the rich history of the city.

Excellent guide to everything you could possibly want to know about the city of Nottingham...

Philip Kaplan: When Zippo Went To War

Published by Pen and Sword 16th March 2021

Throughout the 1930s the Zippo Company in Pennsylvania prospered on the growing success of its stylish, charismatic little cigarette lighter. The lighter was made mostly of brass, but with the Second World War that metal was declared a 'strategic material' in the U.S. where huge amounts of it were needed for shell and cartridge casings. Zippo replaced the brass with steel, which can corrode, and wartime Zippos were given a new baked-on black 'crackle' finish to protect them. That non-reflective characteristic helped save the lives of many American soldiers in combat zones. The demand of the Armed Forces for the lighter led to the company to earmark its entire production for military. The big wartime market for the Zippo resulted in a rise of imitations.After the war, through subsequent conflicts in Korea, Vietnam and elsewhere, thousands of such phoneys appeared in boot sales and swap meets across the world. Movie stars added sophistication and glamour when someone lit up a cigarette with a Zippo and the distinctive 'clink-clop' sound the lighter made when opened and closed was unmatchable. Legend has it that the great star Bette Davis was once asked by an interviewer if she smoked after sex. Her supposed response: "To tell you the truth, I've never looked." In later years- and a dark medical reality- the cigarette began losing its allure, but in wartime the soldier, sailor, marine and airman was frequently nervous in the service and found solace and a brief time-out-of-war in the relaxation of a quick smoke. Zippo was ready in such moments. Today many examples survive with a special history and cache. WHEN ZIPPO WENT TO WAR is illustrated with more than 140 unpublished photos those unique little lighters of old. Like the remarkable Zippo itself, the book works well and sheds some new light on its subject.

This is not really of any interest to me, having been a non-smoker forever, and really, really hating it with a passion, but it's a slice of nostalgia, so I felt I ought to include it...

Will Yates: War Trials - Investigation of a soldier and the Trauma of Iraq

Published by Pen and Sword 12th April 2021

War Trials tells the gripping and in-depth true story of a British soldier’s role in the drowning of an Iraqi teenager in May 2003, the devastating investigation and resulting court martial. This narrative non-fiction tracks the soldier’s life from tight-knit broken family home in Merseyside through deadly urban conflict in the Middle East, to a different battle fought against PTSD while he awaited a military tribunal back in the UK. The military court case in 2006 marked the first of its kind relating to the Iraq war and a case that opened the flood gates of multiple investigations and inquiries into the conduct of soldiers overseas. Based upon rigorous new research, this book’s untold personal story explores the horrors of battle and the chaos of a post-war city and a young soldier’s struggle against depression, suicide attempts and deep sense of being let down by the army he sought to serve. This soldier would eventually endure numerous investigations and face the threat of the International Criminal Court for war crimes but these are the shocking events that started it all. It is the compelling story of a contentious military campaign with little preparation for the disastrous fall out; the soldiers pushed to the limit who maintained a wall of a silence after doing the unthinkable; and a floating body of dead child who came to symbolise a generation lost to war.

A fascinating account of a very specific case of harassment leading to the death of an Iraqui teenager. Some harrowing and upsetting details...

Dmitry Degtev & Dmitry Zubov: Hitler's Strategic Bombing Offensive on the Eastern Front

Published by Pen and Sword 23rd July 2021

Germany was never able to match the power of the Allied air forces with their great four-engine bombers, the Lancasters, Liberators and Flying Fortresses. Indeed, many have ascribed the defeat of Germany in the Second World to its lack of a strategic bombing force. There were, though, two occasions when the Luftwaffe's twin-engine bombers undertook strategic objectives on a large scale. The first of these was the 'Blitz' of 1940-1941, in which the Luftwaffe attempted to wreck Britain's industrial and military capacity. The second was on the eve of Operation Zitadelle, a major offensive against Soviet forces in the Kursk salient Hitler's objective was to replicate the successful Allied mass-bombing of German cities, the Luftwaffe being tasked with destroying the main tank and aircraft production facilities and fuel depots. Hitler saw this as the necessary prelude to weaken the Russians before the 'decisive' onslaught of Zitadelle. The aerial operation, Carmen II, lasted for a month and covered a huge target area from the Rybinsk reservoir to the Caspian Sea. For these complex and risky night missions, all the Ju-88 and 111 bombers available to Hitler in the East were employed.. The authors have collected a huge amount of factual material, reconstructing all the details of this little-known campaign, which was the largest operation Luftwaffe on the Eastern front. This book opens a completely new page in the history of the German air war and provides a comprehensive investigation into the nature of the targets attacked, the degree of damage suffered by the Soviet military machine, and how this affected Operation Zitadelle. The descriptions of the dangerous missions carried out by Luftwaffe as part of this operation are presented in great detail and all these exclusive facts are complemented by a large number of unique photos and documents.

A fascinating account of Hitler's attempts to bring the Eastern Front to its knees with a targeted bombing attack...

Chris Hall: The Nurse Who Became a Spy

Published by Pen and Sword 30th July 2021

The life story of Madge Addy, a working-class Manchester woman who volunteered to fight Fascism and Nazism in two major wars, is a truly remarkable one. Madge left her job and her husband to serve in the Spanish Civil War as a nurse with the Republican medical services. In Spain she was wounded in a bombing raid, fell in love with another foreign volunteer who became her second husband, was made a Prisoner of War and was the last British nurse to leave Spain, witnessing the horrors of Franco's Fascist regime before she left. She was caught up in the ‘Fall of France' and lived in Marseille with her Norwegian husband. From 1940 to 1944 Madge was first an amateur resister and later a full-time secret agent, working with the likes of Ian Garrow, Pat O'Leary and Guido Zembsch-Schreve. She also acted as a courier, flying to Lisbon to deliver and receive secret messages from British intelligence. She also became romantically involved with a Danish secret agent and married him after the war. Madge's wartime achievements were recognised by the British with the award of an OBE and by the French with the award of the Croix de Guerre. Chris Hall brings Madge's story to life using archive material and photographs from Britain, France, Spain and Norway. Madge's Spanish Civil War experiences are vividly described in a mass of letters she wrote requesting medical aid and describing the harrowing conditions at her wartime hospital. Her activities in the Second World War show a woman with ‘nerves of steel' and a bravery at times bordering on recklessness. As she herself said, ‘I believe in taking the war into the enemy camp'.

Author Chris Hall brings to life the remarkable story of a young woman determined to fight against fascism at any cost, including her own life. Remarkable.

Simon Elliott: Roman Conquests - Britain

Published by Pen and Sword 23rd July 2021

The Roman Conquests series seeks to explain when and how the Romans were able to conquer a vast empire stretching from the foothills of the Scottish Highlands to the Sahara Desert, from the Atlantic to the Persian Gulf. How did their armies adapt to and overcome the challenges of widely varied enemies and terrain? In this volume, Dr Simon Elliott draws on the latest research and archaeological evidence to present a new narrative of the conquest (never completed) of Britain. From Julius Caesar's initial incursions in 55 and 54 BC, through the Claudian invasion of 43 AD and the campaigns of expansion and pacification thereafter, he analyses the Roman army in action. The weapons, equipment, organization, leadership, strategy and tactics of the legions and their British foes are described and analysed. The ferocity of the resistance was such that the island was never wholly subdued and required a disproportionate military presence for the duration of its time as a Roman province.

Essential reading for anyone with even a minor interest in the Roman invasion of Britain. Superlative history.

Nigel McCrery: The Undying Flame

Published by Pen and Sword 23rd July 2021

Over 60,000,000 people died worldwide during the course of the Second World War and, in contrast to those slaughtered in The Great War, it was civilian populations that bore the brunt. They perished in the Holocaust, in internment camps, in bombed towns and cities and as ‘collateral damage’, in war zones, such as the Eastern Front and in Asia.

Among this carnage were hundred of individuals of all nations who had competed in Olympic Games. Imagine the loss of so many of the world’s greatest sportsmen and women of the present era.

The author has painstakingly researched the lives, achievements and circumstances of death of almost five hundred athletes of the period. While many were household names at the time, this exceptional work honors these fallen Olympians and reminds us of the futility and wastefulness of war.

All to easily forgotten - the Olympians who perished during the second world war at the hands of Hitler and his barbarians. We should never forget them...

Jackie Sutherland: Doctor Behind The Wire

Published by Pen and Sword 27th July 2021

Although other books have featured Jack and Elizabeth Ennis, this is the first complete account of their story - from meeting in up-country Malaya (the rain forest, the orchids) - to their marriage in Singapore just days before it fell to the Japanese, and then through the long separation of internment. Published here for the first time, Jack's diaries record the daily struggles against disease, injuries and malnutrition and also the support and camaraderie of friends. enjoyment of concerts, lectures, and sports, Ever observant, he records details of wildlife. The inspiration for the 'Changi Quilts', the story of the Girl Guide quilt (now in the Imperial War Museum) is told in words by Elizabeth, written after the war. Elizabeth's former employer, Robert Heatlie Scott, distinguished Far East diplomat, was also POW in Changi, much of the time in solitary confinement or under interrogation by the Japanese. The individual experiences of these three persons are dramatic enough - together they combine in an amazing story of courage, love and life-long friendship

One can only imagine the horrors endured by Prisoners of War in Singapore during WWII - Jackie Sutherland doesn't hold back in this truly remarkable and powerful tale of Jack and Elizabeth Ennis...

Dilip Sarkar: Spitfire Ace of Aces

Published by Pen and Sword 2nd July 2021

Air Vice-Marshal James Edgar 'Johnnie' Johnson CB, CBE, DSO & Two Bars, DFC & Bar, DL was a character literally from the pages of Boys' Own: an individual who became the RAF's top-scoring fighter pilot of the Second World War. A one-time household name synonymous with the superlative Spitfire, Johnnie's aerial combat successes inspired schoolboys for generations. As a 'lowly Pilot Officer', Johnnie Johnson learned his fighter pilot's craft as a protégé of the legless Tangmere Wing Leader, Douglas Bader. After Bader was brought down over France and captured on 9 August 1941, Johnnie remained a member of 616 (South Yorkshire) Squadron, in which he became a flight commander and was awarded the DFC a month after Bader's devastating loss. In time, Johnnie came to command a Canadian wing in 1943, when the Spitfire Mk.IX at last outclassed the Fw 190, and participated in some of the most important battles of the defeat of Nazi Germany, including Operation Overlord and the D-Day landings in 1944, Operation Market Garden and the airborne assault at Arnhem, and the Rhine Crossings, throughout all of which Johnnie also commanded Canadian wings. Johnnie's remarkable career is revealed through this unparalleled collection of archive photographs, the majority of which are drawn from his own personal album or from other members of the Johnson family. Many have not been published before. Between them, they present a fascinating insight into the man himself, the machines he flew, and the men he served alongside.

Superb Stories like this were regularly featured in the stunning picture story strips in the comics I read as a young boy - legendary heroes of WWII brought to life by the incredible artistic talents of the men who drew their stories in my Lion, Tiger, Wizard and Hotspur comics. An incredible story of Johnnie Johnson - one of the truly great air aces of WWII.

Kathryn Warner: Daughters of Edward I

Published by Pen and Sword 15th July 2021

In 1254 the teenage heir to the English throne married a Spanish bride, the sister of the king of Castile, in Burgos, and their marriage of thirty-six years proved to be one of the great royal romances of the Middle Ages. Edward I of England and Leonor of Castile had at least fourteen children together, though only six survived into adulthood, five of them daughters. Daughters of Edward I traces the lives of these five capable, independent women, including Joan of Acre, born in the Holy Land, who defied her father by marrying a second husband of her own choice, and Mary, who did not let her forced veiling as a nun stand in the way of the life she really wanted to live. The women's stories span the decades from the 1260s to the 1330s, through the long reign of their father, the turbulent reign of their brother Edward II, and into the reign of their nephew, the child-king Edward III.

Kathryn's account of the daughters of Edward I is nothing short of fascinating, a true love story from the early middle ages...

Ian Baxter: The Warsaw Uprisings 1943-1944

Published by Pen and Sword 2nd July 2021

By 1942 the Nazi leadership had decided that the Jewish ghettos across occupied Poland should be liquidated, with Warsaw’s being the largest, processed in phases.

In response the left-wing Jewish Combat Organisation (ZOB) and right-wing Jewish Military Union (ZZW) formed and began training, preparing defences and smuggling in arms and explosives.

The first Warsaw Ghetto Uprising began in April 1943. Although this was quelled at devastating cost to the Jewish community, resistance continued until the summer of 1944. By this time the Red Army was closing on the city and with liberation apparently imminent the 40,000 resistance fighters of the Polish Home Army launched a second uprising.

For sixty-three days the insurgents battled their oppressors on the streets, in ruined buildings and cellars. Rather than come to their aid the Russians waited and watched the inevitable slaughter.

This gallant but tragic struggle is brought to life in this book by the superb collection of photographs drawn from the album compiled for none other than Heinrich Himmler entitled Warschauer Aufstand 1944.

Ian Baxter's chilling account of Himmler's "final solution" intended for the Jews of Poland.

The small print: Books Monthly, now well into its 24th 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 paulenorman1@gmail.com and I'll let you know where to send it.



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