The War of the Roses

The War of the Roses charts the history of the struggle between the houses of York and Lancaster. The book keeps events moving, but provides all the important information for the key events. The biggest battles receive their own chapters, whilst events between them look at the politics of the time. An interesting book (I’ve read relatively little about the War of the Roses), but Edgar’s writing style is different to usual conventions; for example, instead of Henry V being written like that, he would be referred to as the fifth Henry. A minor quibble for a very good overview of an important era for English history.

Rating (out of 5): ****

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Six Months in 1945

The end of the Second World War is the subject of Six Months in 1945. Instead of focusing on the military defeats of Germany and Japan, the focus is on the changing relationship between the Big Three as they move from allies to enemies. The book starts with the Yalta conference and how the interpretation of the agreements reached affects events and the relationships through to the Potsdam conference and the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan.

As well as events and the agreements, Dodds also looks at the change in personnel amongst the Big Three leaders and the impact that this has as 1945 progresses. The main change is in the American presidency, with Churchill’s replacement coming at the end of the period focused on.

An interesting read that looks to chart how the wartime alliance led to the Cold War.

Rating (out of 5): ****

Shockwave: The Countdown to Hiroshima

Shockwave: The Countdown to Hiroshima looks at the conclusion of the Manhattan Project and the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. The focus of the book is initially on the lead up to the test of the bomb at Los Alamos, but it also looks at the disagreements with the Japanese government as generals want to fight on, whilst politicians look for an end to the war. The successful test sees the atomic weapon picking up a momentum of its own until it is ready to be dropped. The assembly of the bomb and the mission is covered in great detail, along with the aftermath with accounts from residents of Hiroshima.

An detailed study of the closing days of the war in the Pacific and very readable.

Rating (out of 5): ****

Book review: Blood on Red Dirt

Blood on red dirt is a personal account of the Vietnam War by Gary Cowart. The book covers Cowart’s enlistment, training and experiences in Vietnam with the artillery.

Cowart provides a personal experience of the war. He does not look at the politics of the conflict or the wider war, focusing on what he experiences in his theatre of combat. An interesting insight into the Vietnam War.

Rating (out of 5): ****

Book review: Sepoys in the Trenches

Sepoys in the Trenches looks at the role played by the Indian Corps on the Western Front in 1914 and 1915 before their withdrawal from that theatre. The battles they were involved in (and the role they played in these battles) is explained. It also shows the difficulties faced, especially in replacing losses of men and officers.

The role of the Indian Corps on the Western Front is often overlooked; in fact, I’m struggling to think of another account that makes much, if any, mention of them. This book certainly taught me new things and is a fresh perspective on the Western Front battles at the start of the war.

Rating (out of 5): ****

Book review: World War One: History in an Hour

As the title suggests, World War One: History in an Hour is a whistle-stop tour through World War One. The book offers a brief overview of important events and contains a section introducing key figures. This could certainly act an an excellent introduction to the whole conflict, but if you already know anything about World War I, it will not teach you anything new.

Rating (out of 5): ****

Book review: A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Volume 1

The first volume of A History of the English-Speaking Peoples looks at the history of England from Celtic times to the start of the Tudor era. Churchill examines the forming of the country. There are chapters looking at Ireland, Scotland and Wales, but the focus is on England and their relationship with them. England’s relationship with Europe, especially France, is also looked at, with war occurring regularly between the two countries.

The history is a political history, with the focus being on monarchs and powerful families as England forms and evolves. As the country becomes more stable, chapters tend to focus on monarchs and key events during their reigns. It is a very readable history of the forming of England.

Rating (out of 5): ****