July 2021 - dedicated to Skipper and Holly with all my love...
  books monthly
New titles for June - July 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.

Jennifer Selway: The Making of Horror Movies

 Published by Pen and Sword 7th May 2021

Horror films divide opinion. It wasn't until 1973 that a horror film (The Exorcist) was nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture and many respected critics still regard them with amused condescension. The public's view is also sharply divided. Some cinema goers revel in the thought of being made very, very afraid, while some just don't like horror films because they don't want to be frightened. This guide, which is for both the fan and the more faint-hearted, steers an illuminating path through a genre that has, since the early days of cinema, split off into many sub-divisions - folk horror, slasher movies, Hammer, sci-fi horror, psychological thrillers, zombie movies, among others. Times change but movie-makers can always find a way to tap into what we fear and dread, whether it's blood-sucking vampires or radioactive mutations, evil children or the living dead. This book also gives concise biographies of the many actors and directors who saw their careers - for better or worse - defined by their association with horror movies, and who created a genre that is instantly recognisable in all its forms and continues to find new and ingenious ways of scaring us in the dark.

Only one thing missing from this book - a decent selection of photographs. There are a few in the middle, but with a genre like horror films, it should be peppered with illustrations. Jennifer Selway gives us a decent enough look at the genre, but for me there's not enough on my favourite horror movie of all time - Poltergeist. Still, it's better than nothing...

Andy Singleton: Painting Wargaming Figures - Axis Forces on the Eastern Front

Published by Pen and Sword 16th March 2021

Andy Singleton has been modelling and painting most of his life and has been a professional commission figure painter for some years now. Here he shares his experience and tips of the trade for painting Axis forces on WW2's Eastern Front: Germans, Romanians, Hungarians and Italians and Finns. Each of the chapters is broken into step by step guides explaining the steps and colours required to paint the various uniforms used. The emphasis is on quickly achievable results and practical advice that is applicable to painting units or whole armies for wargaming purposes in a reasonable time frame. The techniques described are designed to easily be adaptable to figures of all sizes. Andy's clear, step-by-step guidance is primarily designed fir those new to historical gaming, and takes the reader through the process from the initial preparation and assembly of the figure, to finishing and basing.

Latest title in Pen and Sword's excellent series on the painting of wargaming figures, this time taking a ,long hard look at the allies engaged at the Eastern front. Andy Singleton certainly knows his stuff!

Ian Fletcher: Robert Craufurd The Man and The Myth

Published by Pen and Sword 12th April  2021

To most students of the Peninsular War the name Robert Craufurd evokes images of a battle-hardened martinet, flogging his men across Portugal and Spain, driving them hard and generally taking a tough stance against anything and everything that did not meet with his own strict disciplinarian code. But that is only a partial picture of this most complex character, and it is the other side of Craufurd's personality that is revealed in this, the first full-length biography to be written in the last hundred years. Craufurd's letters to his wife are published here for the first time, and they show that he was a far more interesting and varied man in his private life than he appeared to be on campaign. Ian Fletcher follows Craufurd's controversial career from India, Ireland and South America to the Iberian Peninsula where he achieved immortality as one of Wellington's finest generals.

The extraordinary story of a Flashman-like man whose career as a general to the Duke of Wellington has only been partially told in the past. Ian Fletcher superbly redresses the balance.

Nigel West: Spy Swap

Published by Pen and Sword 30th April 2021

On Monday, 4 March 2019, Sergei Skripal and his 33-year-old daughter Yulia collapsed in the centre of Salisbury in Wiltshire. Both were suffering the effects of A\-234, a third\-generation Russian-manufactured military grade Novichok nerve agent. As three suspects, all GRU officers, were quickly identified, it was also established that the door handle to the Skripals' suburban home had been contaminated with the toxin. Whilst the Skripals had lived in the cathedral city for the past seven years, what Sergei's neighbours did not know was that he had once been a colonel in the Russian Federation's military intelligence service. Back in July 1996, he had been posted under diplomatic cover to Madrid where he was subsequently cultivated by Pablo Miller, an MI6 officer operating as a businessman under the alias Antonio Alvares de Idalgo. Sergei's recruitment by Miller was one of many successes achieved by Western agencies following the collapse of the Soviet Bloc. These counter\-intelligence triumphs had their origins in a joint FBI\/CIA project codenamed COURTSHIP which was based on the rather risky tactic of making an approach to almost any identified KGB or GRU officer, in almost any environment - a technique known as a 'cold pitch'. It soon yielded results; within five years COURTSHIP had netted about twenty assets. Codenamed FORTHWITH, Sergei was betrayed in December 2001. Arrested in 2004, he was convicted of high treason in Russia, but was subsequently included in a prisoner swap in July 2010 and brought to the UK. The journey to the attempt on his life had begun. The Vienna spy swap was the culmination of a CIA plan to free a specific individual, Gennadi Vasilenko, who had been the Agency's key mole inside the KGB since March 1979\\. To acquire the necessary leverage, the FBI swooped on a large network in the United States, bringing to an end a surveillance operation, codenamed GHOST STORIES, that lasted ten years. Anxious to avoid further embarrassment over the arrests, Vladimir Putin personally authorised an exchange, unaware of Vasilenko's true status. It was only after the transaction had been completed, and two further Russian spies were exfiltrated from Moscow, that the Kremlin learned of Vasilenko's value, and the scale of the deception. For the very first time, a Russian government had been persuaded to release four traitors and send them to the West. The humiliation was complete. As Spy Swap reveals, Putin's retribution would manifest itself in a quiet Wiltshire market town.

This case is fresh in the memory, and an indication of the diabolical lengths to which Putin will go in his attempts to destabilise the west. Nigel West presents the case of the Skripals in a way which could easily be translated into an episode (or rather a series) of Spooks. Superbly told.


Stephen Wynn: Stalag 383 Bavaria

Published by Pen and Sword 13th April 2021

Stalag 383 was somewhat unique as a Second World War prisoner of war camp. Located in a high valley surrounded by dense woodland and hills in Hofenfels, Bavaria, it began life in 1938 as a training ground for the German Army. At the outbreak of war it was commandeered by the German authorities for use as a prisoner of war camp for Allied non-commissioned officers, and given the name Oflag lllC. It was renamed Stalag 383 in November 1942. For most of its existence it comprised of some 400 huts, 30 feet long and 14 feet wide, with each typically being home to 14 men. Many of the British service men who found themselves incarcerated at the camp had been captured during the evacuations at Dunkirk, or when the Greek island of Crete fell to the Germans on 1 June 1941. Stalag 383 had somewhat of a holiday camp feel to it for many who found themselves prisoners there. There were numerous clubs formed by different regiments, or men from the same town or county. These clubs catered for interests such as education, sports, theatrical productions and debates, to name but a few. This book examines life in the camp, the escapes that were undertaken from there, and includes a selection of never before published photographs of the camp and the men who lived there, many for more than five years.

The extraordinary account of a POW camp run by the Germans in Bavaria - reminiscent of Colditz, although it seems that the inmates were treated far more leniently and given plenty of activities to keep their minds and bodies active and fresh.

Adam Shaw: How To Deal With Your Self-Destruct Button

Published by Pen and Sword 21st April 2021

This book should be used to question your relationship with your own lunatic gene. You know that you have it. Logic could not possibly adequately explain all of your perceived shortcomings or quirks. It's ok, you're not alone! If you have ever questioned the sanity of your family, your life or yourself, this book will help you to reach more peace with this.

We all have a Lunatic Gene. It can cause us to think or do seemingly insane things. Thinking about doing insane things is normal. This book explains why. If you have lost loved ones, seen long relationships end, ran out of money, or feel that there is nothing left to strive for, you will be feeling this more than most.

Everybody has a breaking point. This book is a warning of the early danger signs that can lead you to lunatic thoughts and actions. It is not what you think that's a problem, only how you respond. This lunacy left unmanaged will lead almost everyone to thoughts of anger, revenge, desolation, suicide and death.

Fortunately, with a bit of awareness of how this happens, it is also possible to use your lowest moments as positive change agents that can harness your lunacy and change your life in a positive way. Understanding your Lunatic Gene will set you free. But first, it will annoy you! This book will help you to facilitate this journey.

There is a huge focus on mental health and well-being right now, whilst we are in the middle of the pandemic. Adam Shaw's book will be of some help to certain people, and is a welcome addition to the literature on people's mental health problems.

Paul Oldfield: Victoria Crosses on the Western Front - The Battle of Albert 21-27 August 1918

Published by Pen and Sword 20th April 2021

In the past, while visiting the First World War battlefields, the author often wondered where the various Victoria Cross actions took place. He resolved to find out. In 1988, in the midst of his army career, research for this book commenced and over the years numerous sources have been consulted. Victoria Crosses on the Western Front: Battle of Albert is designed for the battlefield visitor as much as the armchair reader. A thorough account of each VC action is set within the wider strategic and tactical context. Detailed sketch maps show the area today, together with the battle-lines and movements of the combatants. It will allow visitors to stand upon the spot, or very close to, where each VC was won. Photographs of the battle sites richly illustrate the accounts. There is also a comprehensive biography for each recipient, covering every aspect of their lives warts and all: parents and siblings, education, civilian employment, military career, wife and children, death and burial/commemoration. A host of other information, much of it published for the first time, reveals some fascinating characters, with numerous links to many famous people and events.

Paul Oldfield's new book on Western Front Victoria Crosses, and in particular those awarded at the Battle of Albert in 1918, is a testament to the bravery of the men who took part in the action, as well as a superb account of the various skirmishes and engagements for which the VCs were awarded. Essential reading for anyone contemplating a visit to a place where a loved one fought and died.

Paul Chrystal: Rownntrees - The Early History

Published by Pen and Sword 7th May 2021

The Rowntree family, especially Henry and the younger Joseph Rowntree are, along with the Frys, Cadburys, Mars and Terrys, synonymous with the birth and growth of the chocolate industry in Britain. Between them, they were the chocolate industry in Britain. This book charts the fascinating story behind the birth and development of the chocolate empire that was Rowntrees. Background information to this astonishing business comes by way of chapters on the early history of the Rowntrees, contemporary York, the relationship between Quakers and chocolate, and the Tuke family - without whom there would have been no Rowntrees, and no Kit Kats. Henry, it is usually forgotten, was the founder of Rowntrees - he made the momentous decision to sign the deal with the Tukes and we join him in those very early days of the fledgling company and watch how he helped it through some very dark, and sometimes humorous, times in what was then a very shambolic set up - cash strapped and making it up as the company lurched from crisis to crisis. Joseph, his elder brother, it was, who became the driving force to eventual global success, mixing his hectic business life with acts of compassion and a benevolent management model, all of which paved the way for decent wages, pensions, insurance and mutual respect in the workplace. Charity work extended beyond the factories to lift workers and others out of the slums of York to a life in a healthy model village, to provide a good social life, an extensive park, swimming pool and education for children and adults. More context is given with chapters on Joseph's relentless industrial espionage, the advancements in chocolate production and 20th century rivals in the domestic and export markets, and mergers and acquisitions. Rowntree's role in the two world wars is also covered along with the struggle Joseph Rowntree had accepting the importance of advertising. Altogether this book gives two fascinating biographies of two exceptional and driven brothers who came together to form one of our greatest companies - producing some of our best loved confectionery products.

The latest title in P&S's series on the businesses that were "born" in the early decades of the industrial revolution looks at chocolate manufacturers the Rowntree family. The brand still appears on some sweets available today, such as fruit pastilles and fruit gums, for example. A fascinating look at a family business through the ages.

Nick Thomas: Into The Valley of Death

Published by Pen and Sword 13th May 2021

Into the Valley of Death tells the thrilling story of the Charge of the Light Brigade in the words of the men who fought during the most heroic and yet futile engagement of the modern era. By drawing on key evidence the author has not only provided a clear narrative of the events leading up to the 25th October 1854, but has painted a vivid picture of the Charge itself. No punches are pulled and the carnage which ensued is clear for all to read, dispelling the romantic myth of death or glory' fostered by the Victorians. This work tells the blood and guts story of a desperate charge by 673 men in the face of what seemed insurmountable odds. It reveals the trauma endured by the rank and file who witnessed all around them men and horses cut to pieces while endeavoring to ride through walls of flying iron and lead, and not knowing if the next second would be their last. Yet in the midst of this horror and devastation, the author takes time to give an overview of the battle itself and puts on the hats of some of the commanders involved, looking at not only what they did, but also at how a terrible disaster could so easily have been turned into the greatest single victory of its time. Could such an apparently mad-cap charge have succeeded? Did sufficient men arrive at the guns to successfully capture them? Were there troops and close support that could have been utilized to drastically change the course of events? Could a simple stalling tactic have allowed these resources to have been fully exploited? All of these questions are answered. This work truly lifts the lid on the events of over 150 years ago and through the words of the survivors allows the reader to assign the responsibility for the Charge having taken place and for the consequent loss of the Light Brigade.

Possibly the best ever account of the Charge of the Light Brigade, told by the people who actually took part...

Martin W Bowman: The Men Who Flew The Hawker Hunter

Published by Pen and Sword 13th May 2021

If ever there was a real pilot's aeroplane it was the Hunter, an outstanding multi-purpose aircraft which excelled in the roles of interceptor fighter, ground attack, reconnaissance, research vehicle and two-seater trainer, not to mention its dramatic displays in formation aerobatic performances. The Hawker Hunter is one of the world's greatest aircraft. For decades pilots have enthused about it, extolling the virtues of its smooth, aerodynamic lines, 4 x 30mm cannon, Rolls-Royce Avon engine, and its outstandingly honest handling characteristics combined with a lively performance. Who can ever forget the glory days of the unforgettable aerobatic displays with the Black Knights, Black Arrows and Blue Diamonds? This book vividly recalls operations in Europe with Fighter Command and 2nd TAF, and in Cyprus, the Middle East and the Far East, where Hunters in the ground-attack role operated against rebels in Aden and Malaysia respectively. The Hunter was undoubtedly a classic thoroughbred of its time from the stables of one of the finest fighter manufacturers in the world. Here, we read the details of it's fascinating story, told from the perspective of the men who actually flew this outstanding aircraft through history.

Superb story of one of the RAF's most iconic aeroplanes, and built by a member company of what is now BAe.

Philip Hamlyn Williams: Dunkirk To D-Day

Published by Pen and Sword 13th May 2021

At Dunkirk, the withdrawing army left behind most of its equipment, yet only four years later, on D-Day, troops would wonder at the efficiency of supply. This book looks at the lives of some of the men who led the monumental effort which led to this result. The story begins in Victorian south London. It goes out to Portuguese East Africa and then to Malaya, before being caught in the maelstrom of the Great War. Between the wars, its leading characters work at Pilkington, Dunlop and English Steel; they serve in Gallipoli, Gibraltar and Malta; they transform the way a mechanised army is supplied. They supply in the desert and the jungle. They build massive depots, and relationships with motor companies here and in the USA. After the war they work for companies driving the post-war economy: Vickers, Dunlop and Rootes. Many died, exhausted, years before their time.

Rik Worth: The Creators of Batman

Published by Pen and Sword 13th May 2021

In the early days 20th century the emerging medium of comics was beginning to grab the attention of children and adults alike. Then, in the 1930s, superheroes revolutionised the entire industry and culture as we know it. Gotham's caped crusader, The Batman, swung into this pantheon of demi-gods in 1939 and secured his place as one of the world's most beloved characters. But do know who created The Dark Knight? Do you know how artist Bob Kane, placed himself at the secret origins of Batman while his co-creator Bill Finger was forced into the shadows? Do you know how comic creators, journalists, and family members fought to have Finger credited for his work? The first prose book to focus both on Finger and Kane, as well as cast of supporting characters from one of the most exciting times in comic book history, The Creators of Batman: Bob, Bill and The Dark Knight gathers everything we know about these two monumental figures and lays their stories side by side. Bringing together the story of these two creators against the exciting background of the American comic's boom and Batman's Golden Age. It looks at how Finger and Kane constructed the world of Gotham and its denizens, and grapples with the legacy the creators left behind.

This is another book just crying out for illustrations. Batman is a comic book creation and hero, and no amount of words can capture the creation of such an iconic character who has dominated graphic novels and films and TV for almost a century. Disappointing. Not even a centre section of photos and illustrations.

John D Grainger: Cromwell Against the Scots

Published by Pen and Sword 13th May 2021

Although also known as the Third English Civil War, the author makes it clear that this was the last war between the Scots and English as separate states. He narrates in detail the the events following the exiled King Charles II's landing in Scotland and his alliance with the Scots Covenanters, erstwhile allies of the English Parliamentarians. Cromwell's preemptive invasion of Scotland led to the Battle of Dunbar, a crushing defeat for the Scots under David Leslie, though this only unified the Scottish cause and led to the levying of the Army of the Kingdom under Charles II himself. Charles II led a desperate counter-invasion over the border, hoping to raise a royalist rebellion and forcing Cromwell to follow him, though he left Monck to complete the pacification of Scotland. Cromwell caught up with Charles II at Worcester, where the Scots/Royalist army was decisively defeated and destroyed, thousands of the prisoners being sold into slavery in the West Indies and the American colonies. This revised and updated edition contains an expanded chapter on the aftermath of the war and the fate of the POWs, drawing on major new archaeological evidence, as well as an expanded Conclusion.
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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