Whether you’re planning to soak up the sunshine this year at home or abroad, there’s no better way to while away a balmy afternoon or two than in the company of a good beach read.
As one of the world’s leading publishers of military history we have a sizzling selection of recent releases which are guaranteed to excite, enthral and educate readers this summer.
Our Publisher Duncan Rogers has selected his ‘10 Beach Season Blockbusters’ and provides his thoughts on each of them to make your choice/s that little bit easier…
‘A Whisper in The Reeds. ‘The Terrible Ones’ – South Africa’s
32 Battalion at War’ by Justin Taylor (£16.95). This amazing work relates the experiences of Justin Taylor who served as the Signals Officer for the South African Defence Force’s infamous 32 Battalion – ‘The Terrible Ones’.
As a young officer he trained in the intricacies of Signalling before volunteering for Border Duty and service with 32 Battalion. This book takes you into the discipline of military communications as never before – delivering a new perspective on the work of ‘Nine Charlie’; the Battalion Signals Officer with
his mantra of ‘check, check and recheck!’
An early reviewer has already written “I can honestly say that this book is the best personal account of bush warfare as experienced by a soldier that I have read since Granger Korff’s ‘19 With A Bullet’.”
‘With Trumpet, Drum and Fife. A Short Treatise Covering The Rise and Fall Of Military Musical Instruments On The Battlefield’ by Major Mike Hall (£16.95). Despite there being a plethora of books about military music, ‘With Trumpet, Drum and Fife’ stands out from the crowd in that it explores new areas of the world of military musical instruments. Its easy-to-read format and pithiness unwraps a depth and breadth of detail contained within. The chapters of the book guide readers from the Ancient World through to the Restoration and up to the modern day – highlighting examples of the origins and developments of the instruments employed.
Duncan says: “This is a short and highly readable book that provides a really good introduction to its subject.”
‘Ice, Steel and Fire. British Explorers in Peace and War 1921-45’ by Linda Parker (£25). Discover the true-life exploits of ‘James Bond’ creator’s brother Peter Fleming and a number of other comrades as they gather intelligence; stage car crashes; plant misleading documents to foil enemies or embark on daring adventures across the world in this dazzlingly entertaining read.
Duncan says: “A truly fascinating book which includes unusual accounts of explorations and Special Forces Ops. Readers will discover that it’s no wonder Ian Fleming wasn’t short of ideas when it came to creating 007!”
‘Three Sips of Gin. Dominating The Battlespace with Rhodesia’s Elite Selous Scouts’ by Timothy Bax (£25). The Selous Scouts comprised specially selected black and white soldiers of the Rhodesian Army – supplemented with the inclusion of hardcore terrorists captured on the battlefield. Dressed and equipped as Communist guerrillas and with faces and arms blackened, members of this elite Special Forces unit would slip silently into the shadows of the night to seek and destroy real terrorist gangs.
In this special ‘deluxe’ edition of author Timothy Bax’s hugely acclaimed ‘Three Sips of Gin’ we follow Timothy on his missions into the silence of the shadows. As his story unfolds we begin to understand how he managed to survive and it is here you will find the significance of ‘three sips of gin’ revealed. Readers of the earlier edition of the book will not want to miss reading this deluxe edition which, for the first time, is illustrated with dozens of photographs of every facet of Tim’s amazing journey – including stark, never-before-seen images of the Rhodesian Bush War.
Duncan says: “This book will do for the Selous Scouts what ‘A Whisper in The Reeds’ is doing for the 32 Battalion. A superb book first and foremost – regardless of anyone’s interest areas. I challenge anyone not to read this and respond to it. It’s funny and sad by turns.”
‘The Rzhev Slaughterhouse. The Red Army’s Forgotten 15-Month Campaign Against Army Group Center, 1942-1943’ by Svetlana Gerasimova (£25). Historians consider the Battle of Rzhev ‘one of the bloodiest in the history of the Great Patriotic War’ and ‘Zhukov’s greatest defeat’. This book has been recognised in Russia as one of the best domestic studies of the Rzhev battle. Its author, Svetlana Gerasimova, has lived and worked amidst the still extant signs of this colossal battle – the tens of thousands of unmarked graves and the now silent bunkers and pillboxes – and has dedicated herself to the study of its history.
Duncan says: “Due out in mid-August, ‘The Rzhev Slaughterhouse’ lifts the lid on a series of battles that were larger than Stalingrad, but far less well-known. Helion is privileged to be publishing this work, as Svetlana Gerasimova is the leading authority on the battles.”
‘Battlefield Rations. The Food Given to The British Soldier for Marching and Fighting 1900-2011’ by Anthony Clayton (£16.95). This book – written to raise money for the Army Benevolent Fund and with a Foreword by General Lord Dannatt – sets out the human story of the food and ‘brew-ups’ of the frontline soldier from the Boer War to Helmand. Throughout, the importance of the provision of food or even a simple mug of tea for morale and unit fellowship – as well as for the need of the calories required for battle – is highlighted with many examples over the century.
Duncan says: “This is another publication due out in August and another fascinating read. The title alone is intriguing and Anthony Clayton builds upon this with a detailed and absorbing account which looks at the importance of food to soldiers in order to sustain them for battle – as well as how the food was transported. Clayton also includes examples of where there has been a shortage of food and the resulting consequences.”
‘Wasted Years, Wasted Lives Volume 1. The British Army in Northern Ireland 1975-77’ by Ken Wharton (£25). Over the past several years, Ken Wharton – himself a former soldier – has been prolific in his coverage of the Troubles, which spread their tentacles far from the streets and fields of Northern Ireland. More than 4,000 people died in or as a consequence of them and it cost the lives of more than 1,300 British soldiers – a fact which is unacknowledged by the MOD – and the lives of more than 300 policemen and women.
This is Ken’s sixth book about the period and he draws on meticulous and detailed research, first-hand testimony of the soldiers who trod the same streets as himself and an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the near 30-year period of murder, violence and civil war.
Duncan says: “Ken’s latest magnum opus builds on his previous titles to present the British Army’s experience in this period in tremendous detail.”
‘Mrs Adolf Hitler – The Eva Braun Photograph Albums 1912-45’ by Blaine Taylor (£34.95). The year 2012 marked the centenary of Eva Braun’s birth. This is the strange-but-true saga of her life – richly illustrated from her own personal photograph albums as well as from other captured German archives. She married German dictator Adolf Hitler, but 36 hours before their joint suicides in Berlin on April 30th 1945 in the last week of the Second World War in Europe.
This exciting pictorial biography tells the full story of a Catholic convent-bred young woman – not only as the ‘secret mistress’, as many historians have painted her since her voluntary death at the age of 33 – but also as Hitler’s lawfully wedded wife, even though she is still largely referred to today by her maiden name.
Duncan says: “This gripping and tragic story of a pretty, well-liked, middle-class shop girl is of a life mainly lived in the iron shadow of history. In death Eva Braun Hitler became – and remains today – a hundred years after her birth one of the most famous women in all of world history alongside such female luminaries as Joan of Arc; Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Princess Diana.”
And finally, here are two suggestions for beach-bound ebook Kindle enthusiasts…
‘Mad Dog Killers. The Story of a Congo Mercenary’ by Ivan Smith (Kindle price £8.15). During that long, hot summer of 1964 Ivan Smith – a mercenary volunteer in the Armée Nationale Congolais – came to witness and understand fear; the law of the jungle and the lust for killing that permeates Africa. A member of ‘Mad Mike’ Hoare’s 5 Commando Group he and his companions were nominally soldiers, but there was little in the way of campaigns, tactics and discipline. Of conventional warfare there was none. Loyalty to country or unit did not exist and the fear of death was the only commander. Many more mercenaries died from an accidental discharge, in a drunken shootout or from a bullet in the back than were ever killed in action by Simba rebels. Nearly half a century later, Ivan Smith re-lives the nightmare that was the Congo.
Duncan says: “A searing and bold account… a genuine page-turner for the summer and an unforgettable reading experience.”
‘Shadows of a Forgotten Past. To the Edge with the Rhodesian SAS and Selous Scouts’ by Paul French (Kindle price £9.35). ‘Shadows of a Forgotten Past’ chronicles the experiences of Paul French who, upon leaving the British Army’s 21 SAS (V), sought adventure and excitement in C Squadron of the Rhodesian SAS. Upon passing the arduous Rhodesian SAS selection course, Paul was thrown into the maelstrom that was the Rhodesian Bush War. Here he participated in the SAS’s infamous raid on Joshua Nkomo and numerous other operations against insurgent / liberation forces.
Duncan says: “This impressive book pulls no punches. It gives a unique and purposefully opinionated insight into the workings of the Rhodesian SAS and the Selous Scouts. A highly recommended read.”