Military History Books
A companion to the brilliant Channel 4 series of the same name, The Freedom Trails: Escaping Hitler tells the incredible story of some of the brave individuals who managed to escape Nazi Germany.
- RRP £20.00
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Over 5,000 British, Commonwealth and American servicemen made the journey over the Pyrenees, the Slovenian mountains and the Italian alps and many died en route. However, the brave men and women of the resistance still managed to defy the odds and keep the routes open.
Among those you'll read about are Blondie Haslar, the leader of the Cockleshell Heroes, US airman Chuck Yaeger (whose story was retold in The Right Stuff) and Andree de Jongh, a young woman who risked her life to smuggle men through occupied France and survived being sent to two concentration camps.
Based on in-depth research and interviews with survivors as well as his own experiences walking the trails, broadcaster and former Royal Marine Monty Halls book is dramatic and gripping from first page to last.
These three books are full of true stories about the heroes who fought in the First World War.
- RRP £23.97
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- Just £2.00 per book
David and Stuart Hadaway's The British Airman of the First World War covers the pilots, observers and gunners that played a vital part in the Allied war effort; Quintin Colville's The British Sailor of the First World War explores the everyday experiences of those who served in the navy between 1914 and 1918; and Peter Doyle's The British Solder of the First World War goes beyond the familiar picture of soldier in muddy trenches and reveals what it was like to be an average British 'Tommy' - both in battle and at rest.
All extensively researched, these are incredible books about the humans behind one of the world's most important battles.
BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera reveals the story of MI14 and the Secret Pigeon Service during the Second World War for the first time in this compelling read.
- RRP £20.00
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Using extensive original research and declassified documents, he reveals the inner workings of 'Columba' - an operation that saw 16,000 plucky homing pigeons dropped in an arc from Bourdeaux to Copenhagen in an effort to bring back intelligence from those living under Nazi occupation.
The messages came flooding back from France, the Netherlands and Belgium - all written on tiny pieces of rice paper that has been tucked into canisters and tied to the legs of the birds - and these authentic missives ranged from the comic to the tragic and occasionally invaluable, giving the British Intelligence advance notice of German troop movements, weapons and more.
Corera also looks at the people behind this mission, not many of whom were trained agents or experienced in spying. He focuses in particular on the Leopold Vindictive network, a small group of Belgian villagers - led by priest Joseph Raskin - who were always prepared to risk everything. This is a powerful and tragic tale of wartime espionage that looks at a quirky and quarrelsome band of spy masters and their unique operations.
Published in association with Imperial War Museums, this book is packed with tales of courage, heartbreak and humour set against the Spitfire's extraordinary history.
- RRP £16.99
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Based on documents, letters, stories, photographs and articles from the museum's archives, it also uses interviews with designers, engineers, mechanics, ground staff and pilots to explain how this magnificent flying machine helped Britain to victory.
The most famous plane of World War II and a source of national pride, the Spitfire is one of the most iconic aviation images of all time. This book celebrates the achievements of the people in charge of these planes.
From the Dambusters bombing raid to the story that inspired the classic film, The Great Escape, this collection is full of fascinating reads for anyone interested in military history.
- RRP £49.95
- Save £40.96
- Just £1.80 per book
With five books to read through, it will provide hours of reading. The Battle for the Code is the story of how the German Enigma codes were broken (as seen in the Benedict Cumberbatch film The Imitation Game); Ill Met by Moonlight is an adventure story about how the Special Forces kidnapped the General of Crete; and The Great Escape is the story of a mass escape from a WWII German PoW camp.
This collection also includes Wings on My Sleeve, test pilot Eric Brown's autobiography; and The Dambusters Raid, a definitive account of the most audacious bombing raid of the Second World War.
Nicholas Rankin, the bestselling author of Churchill's Wizards, examines how Gibraltar - a lone outpost of the British Empire, riddled with tunnels, spies and secrets - managed to hold off attacks by land, sea and air to help the Allies win the Second World War.
- RRP £20.00
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Two months before his death, Adolf Hitler realised where it had gone wrong - he failed to seize Gibraltar in 1940. A pillar of British sea power since 1704, the Rock of Gibraltar looked formidable but was also very vulnerable.
Gibraltar was menaced on all sides by Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Vichy France and Francoist Spain and had to let thousands of people cross its frontier to work every day - many of whom were eager to blow up its 25 miles of secret tunnels.
Eventually in 1942, Gibraltar became US General Eisenhower's HQ for the invasion of North Africa and it was this campaign that led to the Allies' victory. This revelatory book features the likes of Haile Selassie, Anthony Burgess and General Sikorsi and sets Gibraltar in the wider context of the struggle against fascism. It also covers its role in the Spanish Civil War and its people's rise to independence.
The Battle of Passchendaele took place between July and November 1917 and is widely regarded as one of the worst battles of both World Wars.
- RRP £25.00
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Fought by the Allies against the German Empire in a small corner of Belgium, it was a horrific event that ended with over 500,000 men killed, maimed, gassed or drowned - and many bodies were never found.
This book marks the centenary of the event. Historian Nick Lloyd references previously unexamined German documents to explain how the offensive put the Allies nearer to a major turning point in the war than anyone has ever imagined...
It's a fascinating and poignant read for anyone with an interest in military history, trench warfare or past wars.
Richard Dannatt is the former head of the British army and in this vivid, extensive and fascinating read, he reveals the history of the military since the end of the Second World War.
- RRP £25.00
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Richard served in the military for over 40 years and in an authoritative and personal style, he talks about how the British army has shaped - and been shaped by - world events from the Cold War to the Good Friday Agreement. He also offers his thoughts on everything from the decolonisation of India to the two invasions of Iraq.
Britain has had 'boots on the ground' ever since the end of World War II and with the rise of terrorism and the current tensions in the Middle East, this shows no sign of changing anytime soon. This book reveals why the army is so important and how it has evolved and adapted through shifting security and defence policies. It is ideal for anyone with an interest in military history.
With cross-section drawings taken direct from the official Flight and The Aeroplane archives, Classic World War II: Aircraft Cutaways is a must for anyone interested in history and aeronautical engineering.
- RRP £19.99
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Alongside each of the illustrations is some detailed text for each type of aircraft. It covers the history and evaluates the drawing. There are even 12 vehicles displayed on pull-out, double-page gatefolds!
Telling you everything you could ever want to know about the planes that flew during the Second World War, this keepsake book also features archive photography Aeroplane Montly.
On 8 November, 1923, Adolf Hitler stormed into a beer hall in Munich, fired his pistol in the air and declared the start of a revolution.
- RRP £25.00
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Seventeen hours later and he was on the run from the police, with his career seemingly in tatters. All that remained of his bold move was a trail of destruction... Written by historian David King, this is the true story of the monumental criminal proceeding that followed as Hitler and nine other suspects were charged with high treason.
While reporters from all over the world came to witness the trial, things clicked into place for Hitler and he ended up hailing the fiasco of the beer hall putsch as a victory for the fledgling Nazi Party. This trial thrust Hitler into the limelight and provided him and set him on his journey to power.
Using trial transcripts, police files and a host of sources, including 500 documents recently discovered from the Landsberg Prison record office, King's The Trial of Adolf Hitler explains how this failure of the justice system changed the world forever.
Accompanying the landmark BBC Radio 4 series, former BBC correspondent Bridget Kendall's The Cold War: Stories from the Big Freeze is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand how the tensions of the last century have shaped the modern world - and what it has been like to live through them.
- RRP £25.00
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Combining meticulous historical research with personal testimonies from those who lived through the conflict, the series has presented a unique and unbiased history of the Cold War - one of the furthest reaching and longest lasting conflicts in modern history. This book provides even more insight and explains how the war, which lasted over half a century, spanned all over the globe from Greece to China and Hungary to Cuba and has shaped political relations to this day.
This war also managed to draw new physical and ideological boundaries between East and West and affected all kinds of ordinary people. This captivating read offers a captivating and all-encompassing account of just how far this major historical event reached and its lasting impact.
If you've ever wondered who fired the first British shot of the First World War, how low the Dambusters flew or just how many ships were sunk at Pearl Harbor, these two books will provide the answers.
- RRP £19.98
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- Just £2.50 per book
Compiled and written by Norman Ferguson, the miscellanies tell the stories of the battles, aircraft, weapons, soldiers, heroes and enemies of both world wars, while also presenting these tales in accessible, bite-sized chunks. Among the events covered in the First World War are the downing of the Red Baron and the first WWI soldier to receive the Victoria Cross...
The book based around the Second World War tells the stories of the Battle of Britain, the Siege of Leningrad, the horrors of the Holocaust and the D-Day landings... Compelling throughout, the books also contain a startling number of facts and figures to dip into.
In this eye-opening book, Keith Jeffery looks at how the events of the First World War affected the rest of the world.
- RRP £9.99
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Covering the 12 months of 1916, he picks out 12 key moments and reveals the impact they had on the rest of the world. As well as famous battles including Gallipoli and the Somme, the author also examines the Easter Rising, the Italian Front and the killing of Rasputin and explains how all of these related to the War.
Thoroughly researched using a host of military, social and cultural sources, this book looks at just how much the war dramatically altered the state of so many nations.
Passionately written by Paul Brown, this lavish book explores 20 of the most celebrated and accessible ships in Britain and explains how they have helped to shape the nation.
- RRP £20.00
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Britain has a long and rich seafaring history that stretches right back to the time of Drake and Nelson. Although much of this is recorded in literature and in museums, there's nothing better than looking at the preserved and restored monuments to discover their true past.
Presented in order of each ship's launch date, each entry is written by the acknowledged expert on a particular vessel, giving full specification details. The book is also sumptuously illustrated with contemporary photographs, historical illustrations and a full set of scale plans.
Among the vessels featured at the Mary Rose, HMS Victory and the Cutty Sark.
The Bletchley Park recruiters devised various ingenious mind-twisters to help recruit the best code breakers around during World War II.
- RRP £12.99
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This book gives you the chance to tackle some of these puzzles given to these applicants and see if you'd have made the grade during this era. From hidden codes to cryptic crosswords, secret languages and complex riddles, they touch on a range of subjects.
The codebreakers were united in their love of a good puzzle, and this book gives you the chance to also put your mental agility to the test. The questions are tough but oh-so-satisfying to crack.
A very poignant and powerful book, Maps of War is a visual survey of how conflict was recorded and planned. It uses archive maps to reveal how warfare and documentation has changed through the centuries.
- RRP £30.00
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Covering the history of military mapping, the book looks at beginning and what impact the invention of printing and introduction of gunpowder had. In the 17th century, military commanders and strategists started to document wars by way of illustration.
In the 18th century, they started to use maps to chart progress. This chapter reflects the spread of European power and transoceanic conflict and focuses on the American war of Independence. The book then moves on to the 19th and 20th centuries, covering everything from the American Civil War to the World War, Vietnam and the Gulf Wars.
Published in conjunction with the Imperial War Museum, this three-book collection brings together a fascinating and authoritative social history of the Second World War.
- RRP £24.97
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- Just £1.66 per book
A Prayer for Gallipoli covers the Great War from the point of view of a chaplain. Kenneth Best had no military training, so to fulfil his pastoral role, he had to get close to the front line and work with troops as they were under fire. As his empathy for the troops grew larger, he became more and more disgusted with their leaders. These diaries provide an insight into the horrific realities of trench warfare.
The Secret History of the Blitz by Joshua Levine looks at the people that are not normally mentioned during accounts of the War - those spivs, outcasts and unsung heroes who were in the shadows; and D-Day to Victory features the diaries of a British tank commander as the war finally came to an end.
All written using archive and primary sources, these are candid and compelling reads about the triumphs and tragedies of war.
Told through a series of letters and thoroughly researched analysis, Andrew Davidson's The Invisible Cross tells the incredible true story of Colonel Graham Chaplin, a frontline officer who spent three years in the trenches during the First World War.
- RRP £20.00
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The commander of the Cameron Highlanders, Colonel Chaplin sent letters from the trenches to his new wife on an almost-daily basis. He was so keen to let her know how he was doing that if he didn't have time to write a letter, he would send a postcard to assure her he was 'quite well'.
Providing a personal insight into how a serving officer felt during time of conflict, the letters reveal his worries about his men and the family he's left behind as well as his observations on how the war is actually going. They also reveal why a man who was so trusted and respected by his men wasn't promoted out of the trenches until 1917, despite the fact all his contemporaries were...
Startling from the very first page, the non-fiction book offers a portrait of what life was like on the Western Front and also touches upon Colonel Chaplin's encounters with the likes of Robert Graves, Bernard Montgomery and Siegfried Sassoon.
This informative book contains 150 maps that demonstrate how - and where - the Second World War was fought around the world.
- RRP £30.00
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Published in association with the Imperial War Museums, it features everything from small-scale maps of country boundaries to large-scale maps of the key battles.
Alongside the maps are photographs and expert commentary on the conflict that lasted from 1939-1945. There are also trench maps, maps from newspapers and key propaganda.
Commemorating 50 years since the death of Winston Churchil, this is a unique illustrated biography for anyone interested in the history of Britain.
- RRP £25.00
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It includes rare and previously unpublished images from the vaults of the Churchill Archive Centre and family pictures from the Broadwater collection. Written by historian Max Arthur, the book covers everything from Churchill's youth and early military career through to the First and Second World Wars and his post-war life.
Endlessly fascinating, it includes timelines, speech drafts, telegrams and insights into Churchill's key influences, acquaintances and family.
Compiled by the newspaper's chief archivist Gavin Fuller, The Telegraph Book of Readers' Letters from the Great War provides an emotional glimpse into what life was like during an event that changed the world forever...
- RRP £14.99
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Covering the lead-up, duration and final moments of the entire First World War, the book showcases some of the poignant letters that were sent into the newspaper's headquarters as readers showed their pride, expressed their anxieties and vented their frustrations at the battles being fought far from home.
A fascinating and heartbreaking insight into the minds of those Britons whose stories of war were told from relative safety, this book gives a voice to those who may not have been on the battlefields yet still remained scarred by tragedy, guilt and grief as they dealt with the anguish and fear for their loved ones.
THE EPIC TRUE STORY OF DUNKIRK - NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE, WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY CHRISTOPHER NOLAN AND STARRING KENNETH BRANAGH, TOM HARDY AND MARK RYLANCE. In 1940, at the French port of Dunkirk, more than 300,000 trapped Allied troops were dramatically rescued from destruction at the hands of Nazi Germany by an extraordinary seaborne evacuation. The true history of the soldiers, sailors, airmen and civilians involved in the nine-day skirmish has passed into legend. Now, the story Winston Churchill described as a 'miracle' is narrated by bestselling author Joshua Levine in its full, sweeping context, including new interviews with veterans and survivors. Told from the viewpoints of land, sea and air, Joshua Levine's Dunkirk is a dramatic account of a defeat that paved the way to ultimate victory and preserved liberty for generations to come.
- RRP £8.99
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As the man in charge at the time the nation entered the Civil War, Charles I's reign is one of the most dramatic in history. However, Charles as a man was an elusive individual. He is often regarded as weak and his wife, Henrietta Maria, as spoilt but Leanda de Lisle's thoroughly researched biography reveals him to be principled and brave but also blinkered.
- RRP £20.00
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Charles I is revealed to be a complex man who pays the price for bringing radical change; Henrietta Maria a warrior queen and political player as impressive as any Tudor. This book also focuses on the cousins who befriended and betrayed the royal couple - the peacocking Henry Holland, whose brother engineered the king's fall and the 'last Boleyn girl' Lucy Carlisle.
This is an almost unbelievable story that ties in everything from populist politicians and religious war to a new media and reshaping of the nation where women vied with men for power.
Starring Claire Foy and Matt Smith, Netflix's The Crown is one of the streaming services most critically acclaimed and popular (not to mention, most expensive!) Originals and this companion hardback follows the journey of Britain's longest-reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II.
- RRP £20.00
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Written by royal biographer Robert Lacey, this book looks back at the Queen's reign, explaining how, after the sudden death of her father, she had to learn her duties very quickly. She was already a wife and mother when she had her coronation and there were also wider issues throughout Britain as the country tried to lift itself after the end of the war.
Elizabeth also had various personal issues to deal with: her mother doubted her marriage; her husband resented the sacrifice of his career and family name; and her sister had an affair that threatened to destroy the close bond between the church and the crown. Despite all this, she always made sure she came out on top. Fully researched, this is an intimate and informative account of Elizabeth II ? both as a private person and as a public figure.