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20th Century

Perilous Commitments

Matthew Willingham                        Spellmount                        ISBN 1 86227 236 0

This book covers Britain's involvement in Greece and Crete 1940-41. While the Crete campaign has been extensively written about, the earlier Greek campaign is less well covered and therefore this is a welcome publication. Chapters cover the Greco-Italian campaign and the subsequent Operation Marita in which German troops swept through the Balkans forcing another British evacuation from the European mainland. The diplomatic and military aspects of the conflict are well covered.

Balkans on Fire

Stephen Keyer & Mario Sposito            Treadhead Games           

This is a book of six scenarios covering the war in Greece 1940-41. The authors have included an historical introduction and ORBAT's together with detailed maps and special rules for each scenario. Whilst primarily aimed at tactical level wargames they can be adapted for most rules systems.

The Yugoslav Wars (2)

N.Thomas & K.Mikulan                        Osprey                        ISBN 1 84176 964 9

The second volume in the Osprey Elite series on the Yugoslav wars 1992-2001 covers Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia. The format is the same as the first volume with a short history of the conflict, detailed order of battle and uniform details. As always the photographs and colour plates are excellent.

The Yugoslav Wars

Dr N Thomas & K Mikulan                Osprey                                    ISBN 1 84176 963 0

This first volume in the Elite series covers the conflict in Slovenia and Croatia between 1991 and 1995. There are sections on the organisation of the armies and a brief narrative of the fighting. As usual the photos and colour plates are the real strength of this series.

Guns for the Sultan: Military power and the weapons industry in the Ottoman Empire

Gabor Agoston                                                 Cambridge      

This study examines the weapons industry of the Ottoman Empire in the context of the Ottoman threat to Europe during the renaissance. Part of an emerging series of works based on extensive research in the Turkish archives and gives a new insight on Ottoman success and later failure against European armies.

The Balkan War 1912-1913

Alexander Vachkov                              Angela                          ISBN 954 90587 4 3

Second in the series Wars for the Unification of Bulgaria this is an Osprey style publication from Bulgaria. It has an English text and is well illustrated with excellent colour plates. There is a general introduction to the war but the real strength of the book is the description of the organisation of the armies, their armaments and most usefully uniforms. Highly recommended.

British Army in WW1 – Eastern Fronts

Mike Chappell                                      Osprey                         ISBN 1 84176 401 9

Last in a series that covers the British Army in WW1. It covers what the British called ‘Other Theatres’ ranging from Italy to Africa to the Middle East and as far as Russia and China. There is a short section on the Balkans and Gallipoli and two colour plates. However, there is an extraordinary photograph on page 33 of a 2.75” mountain gun in full recoil taken at the instant a snipers bullet hit a gunner.

Battle for Budapest

Krisztian Ungvary                                 I.B.Tauris                     ISBN 9 781850 436676

The siege of Budapest lasted for 102 days and was one of the longest in WW2. A mixed collection of German and Hungarian units defended the city against heavy odds. The battle included several relief efforts and a final unsuccessful breakout. Throughout it all some 800,000 civilians suffered terribly. This is a detailed account of the battle with considerable detail of the units involved. The text is livened by eye witness accounts and access to soviet and German archives. Excellent.

The Balkan Wars

Andre Gerolymatos                              Spellmount                   ISBN 1 86227 253 0

In this book the author examines how ancient struggles remain the consciousness of the region through a survey of Balkan conflicts from before the Ottoman period to the twentieth century. He has chronicled themes rather than a straightforward narrative history and in doing so writes a lively account of the wars and ethnic hatred in the region. Whilst there is little new in this account its structure gives a different insight into the Balkan conflicts. Recommended.

The Campaign in Greece and Crete 1941

David Garnett                                       Military Library Research Service         ISBN 1 904951 05 8

The Military Library Research Service has reproduced this slim 1942 War Office view of the campaign. Particularly useful for the Commonwealth intervention forces.

Crete 1941

Peter Antill                                           Osprey                         ISBN1 84176 844 8

Usual Osprey campaign series format with a concise description of the campaign coupled with excellent maps and photographs.

Under the Devil’s Eye: Britain’s Forgotten army at Salonika 1915-18

Alan Wakefield & Simon Moody          Sutton                                      ISBN 0 7509 3537 5

This is the first study of the British involvement in the Balkans during WW1 since Alan Palmer’s excellent The Gardeners of Salonika. The approach taken by Wakefield and Moody is different, drawing more closely on memoirs and letters of the combatants to tell the story. As a consequence the narrative is somewhat faltering but it does give a real feel for conditions in this campaign. There are clearly drawn maps and illustrations to compliment a first rate study.

The Collapse of Yugoslavia

Alastair Finlan                                       Osprey                                     ISBN 1 84176 805 7

The latest in the Osprey ‘Essential Histories’ series covers the wars in Yugoslavia during the 1990’s. A brief overview of the main campaigns together with features giving a personal perspective of several participants. A bit short on the military aspects of the campaigns although as usual the maps and illustrations are good.

Uniforms and Equipment of the Austro-Hungarian Army in WW1

Spencer Coil                           

For those who need more detail than the recently published Osprey on the same subject, this is the book for you. But be warned at £55 it doesn’t come cheap. There are detailed chapters on all the main units with original photos and a full colour section on uniforms.

Defeat in Detail: The Ottoman Army in the Balkans 1912-13

E. Erickson                               Praeger                                    ISBN 0 275 97888 5

This is a comprehensive and well written study of the Ottoman army in the Balkan Wars including its doctrine and planning. Over 30 maps and an excellent collection of orbats covering all the campaigns. The structure is similar to Richard Hall’s recent book on these wars. This is helpful as his work focussed on Balkan League states and this study is an essential balance. As this is a unique study I have swallowed the £49.95 price tag, if reluctantly!

The Balkans in World War Two: Britain's Balkan Dilemma 1939-41

Christopher Catherwood          Palgrave                       ISBN 0-333-74164-1

In August 1939 the Soviets and Nazis signed a pact that was to alter the balance of power in Europe - especially for the vulnerable countries of the Balkans, who felt threatened not just by Germany but also by the USSR. For Britain the failure of appeasement led to a search for new allies. Christopher Catherwood's book explores how, under Churchill's leadership, Britain dealt with these developments in the Balkans. Chapters outline the problem in 1939 and then cover the events of 1939/40 including the failure to engage Turkey and the Balkan states on the allied side.

Austro-Hungarian Forces in WW1 (Vol.2)

Peter Jung                                Osprey                                     ISBN 1 84176595 3

The second volume in Osprey’s study of the Austro-Hungarian army in WW1 takes the story on from 1916 to 1918. A brief outline of the main campaigns followed by an explanation of the 1917 reorganisation demonstrating how the army responded to the demands of trench warfare.

Tito’s Partisans 1941-45

Velimir Vuksic                          Osprey                         ISBN 9 781841 766751

The latest Balkan title in the ‘Warrior’ series covers Tito’s partisans. After a brief historical introduction the focus is on the troops. How they were recruited, trained and equipped. Usual Osprey format of concise text, well illustrated and excellent colour plates.

Balkan Battlegrounds: A Military History of the Yugoslav Conflict, 1990-95

CIA       www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/

This is a hugely detailed study which chronicles the conflict in Yugoslavia written by CIA analysts. Best described as a reference work - not for the general reader.

The First World War (4) - The Mediterranean Front 1914-23

Michael Hickey                          Osprey                                         ISBN  1 84176 373 X

The latest in the Osprey Essential Histories history covers the First World War in the Balkans from the Austro-Hungarian invasion of Serbia through to the evacuation of Istanbul by the British in 1923. In such a small study the warring armies and the campaigns receive only cursory treatment although the maps and photographs are good. Useful as an overview for the general reader only.

The War in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina 1991-1995

Branka Magas & Ivo Zanic        Frank Cass                                    ISBN 0 7146 8201 2

This is a military history of the conflict in Bosnia and Croatia between 1991 and 1995. A number of contributors, mostly from Bosnia and Croatia, bring together a wealth of detail including some excellent colour maps. There are discussion chapters which look at the wider implications of the war. Whilst this is an objective study, with a foreword by Noel Malcolm, it would have benefitted from a greater Serbian perspective.

Equipment and Armour in the Bulgarian Army

Armoured Vehicles 1935 - 1945

Trucks, Tractors and Automobiles 1935-45

Kaloyan Matev                       Sofia                          ISBN 954 90587 7 8 & 954 90587 8 6

Two titles from a new supplier of Bulgarian books which fill an important gap in our understanding of Bulgarian armour and vehicles during WW1. The format is similar to Osprey with text in Bulgarian and English, extensively illustrated with original photographs from the Bulgarian archives and full colour plates. Chapters cover pre-war development, military usage during the war, camouflage and a detailed specification of every tank and vehicle. Whilst the translation is somewhat less than perfect it doesn't detract from the important sections. They are also excellent value for money, retailing at $14 each (including postage). The distributor can be contacted at: boyan.savov@excite.com. He also has other titles covering the Bulgarian air force. Highly recommended.

Austro-Hungarian Aces of WW1

Christopher Chant                    Osprey                      ISBN1 84176 376 4

From modest beginnings Austro-Hungarian pilots flew in most of the main fronts of WW1, although mainly in Russia and Italy as well as the Balkans. This book very briefly covers the aircraft and organisation followed by chapters on their main foes, the Russians and Italians. 49 aces (5+ kills) are identified with brief histories of the leading aces. As usual with Osprey the colour plates and photographs are excellent if the text is somewhat limited.

Armies in the Balkans

Nigel Thomas             Osprey                               ISBN 1 84176 194 X

A welcome addition to the Osprey series covering one of the more obscure campaigns of WW1. The usual Osprey format with a description of the main combatant nations together with colour uniform plates.

The Central Powers in the Adriatic 1914-18

Charles Koburger             Praeger                   ISBN 0 275 97071 X

This is a brief study of the Austro-Hungarian Navy in WW1. Its organisation and in particular the challenges faced by a navy operating in a narrow sea such as the Adriatic.

Gallipoli 1915

Tim Travers                       Tempus                    ISBN 0 7524 1975 7

This is a detailed examination of the campaign at Gallipoli in 1915. In particular the study benefits from examination of the Turkish archives. These shine a new light on a campaign which has too often been seen only through the eyes of allied commanders.

Anti-Partisan Warfare in the Balkans

Military Press                                   ISBN 0 85420 225 0

This is a reprint of the US Army centre for military history publication German Antiguerrilla Operations in the Balkans first published in 1954. It provides an excellent overview of the armies of the national states in the Balkans as well as the occupation forces and guerilla units. The main counter guerilla operations are briefly covered together with useful ORBATS.

Rise of the Young Turks

Naim Turfan                     Tauris             ISBN 1 86064 533 X

This book looks at the military's role in politics in Turkey focussing on the role of Ataturk. The author describes the traditional Turkish view that the army and state are inseparable and the respective roles of military and civilian leaders.

Conflict in the Balkans 1991-2000

Tim Ripley                   Osprey           ISBN 1 84176 290 3

This book studies the air war over the former Yugoslavia from the Slovenian declaration of independence in June 1991 to the Kosovo conflict in 2000. It looks mainly at the role of NATO aircraft in the conflicts, including detailed ORBATs and describes the various missions undertaken by allied aircraft. As always with Osprey books this volume is profusely illustrated including colour plates of the main aircraft types.

Romania in the Second World War

Dinu Giurescu              Columbia         ISBN 0 88033 443 6

This book covers the pre war neutrality through the Antonescu regime and the country's support for the Axis cause until it switched sides in 1944. This is a nationalistic history using mostly Romanian sources and as such some of the conclusions have to be read in that light.

The Ship That Changed the World

Dan Van der Vat          Birlinn        ISBN  1 84158 062 7

This is the story of the escape of the German battlecruiser Goeben and the light cruiser Breslau to the Dardanelles in 1914. It describes the naval position in the Mediterranean at the outbreak of WW1 and the role of the French and British commanders in the evasion of the Goeben. Further chapters look at the French and British inquests and the trial of Admiral Troubridge. Finally the author considers the consequences including the Black Sea campaign and the impact on the landings at Gallipoli.

Ordered to Die

Edward Erickson              Greenwood Press      ISBN  0 313 31516 7

A new general history of the Ottoman Army in World War 1. This study benefits from access newly available Turkish archive materials and challenges conventional thinking about Ottoman war aims and effectiveness.

Hellenic Wings

George Beldecos              HAF          ISBN  960 86135 2 3

This is the first of a two volume official history of the Hellenic Air Force covering the history of military aviation in Greece. This volume focuses on the establishment of the HAF (then RHAF) in 1930 and its subsequent destruction by the Luftwaffe in 1941.

The Balkan Wars 1912 - 1913

Richard Hall                   Routledge      ISBN 0 415 22947 2

The Balkan Wars of 1912-13 were an important prelude to WW1, even if many of the tactical lessons were forgotten. Richard Hall's book is the latest title in the excellent Warfare and History series which  also brought us Ottoman Warfare 1500-1700 (see below). The book is a concise military history of both wars. It sets out the origins of the conflict followed by a narrative of each major campaign and the diplomatic moves. The only criticism might be the absence of orbats. An English language study of these wars is long overdue and this book is highly recommended.

Plundered Loyalties: World War II and the Civil War in Greek West Macedonia

John Koliopoulos            New York University Press     ISBN 0 8147 4730 2

A rare example of a reasonably unbiased account of the occupation and subsequent civil war in Greek West Macedonia. It describes the politics of communal violence amongst an incredibly disparate number of ethnic groups. In addition to the native Greeks the area was home to Vlachs and Slavs as well as refugees displaced from Turkey in the 1920's.

Operation Deliberate Force

Tim Ripley                 CDISS      ISBN 0 9536650 0 3

This book tells the military and diplomatic story of the war in Bosnia in1995. It covers the covert rearming of the Croat and Bosnian armies through the fall of Sebrenica to the Croatian offensive in the Krajina. Finally it describes the diplomatic and military preparations leading to Operation Deliberate Force including the NATO airstrikes in September 1995 which led to the lifting of the siege of Sarajevo and the Dayton peace accord. The military campaigns are covered in some detail with useful sketch maps, based on interviews with the key players.

The Italian Army: Europe 1940-43

Philip Jowett               Osprey      MAA 340

The latest Osprey covers the European campaigns of the Italian army in WW2. There is a brief overview of the main campaigns and occupation duties together with helpful orders of battle. The bulk of the book concentrates on the uniforms including the usual excellent colour plates. Whilst Rex Tyre's Mussolini's Soldiers is a more detailed treatment of this subject, this book provides all the detail most wargamers and modellers will require.

Albania at War 1939-45

Bernd Fischer             Purdue University  Press        ISBN 1 55753 141 2

Books on Albanian history are rare indeed which makes this contribution all the more valuable. It takes us from the development of Albanian nationalism under King Zog through the Italian invasion to the wartime resistance against both Italian and then German rule. The resistance movements in Albania including the nationalist BK and Zogist groups together with Enver Hoxa's NLM are covered in some detail and sheds some light on a complex mix of politics, religion and clan loyalities. It gives the reader a broader perspective than the wartime memoirs of British liaison officers. However, those interested in the military history of the period will be disappointed with the superficial treatment given to the military campaigns as the book is primarily a political history.

Balkan Battles

Ronald Tarnstrom        Trogen Books                   ISBN 0 922037 14 0

The title of this book is a little misleading. It is mainly a handbook of the armed forces of the Balkan states (including Turkey) with some dialogue on the wars and battles. It is also almost entirely limited to the twentieth century with only a cursory reference to earlier times. With these limitations it does include some useful organisational details, particularly the Turkish armed forces, which are not widely available in English.

The Destruction of Serbia in 1915

Charles Freyer               Columbia Press                    ISBN 0-88033-385-5

This book is in two parts. This first half takes the reader from the Austro-Hungarian invasion through the winter retreat to the arrival and reorganisation on Corfu. It relies almost exclusively on British and French sources supplemented by the official Austrian history of the war. The second half reproduces Rear-Admiral Troubridge's Serbian Journal and this work clearly heavily influenced the author. If nothing else it is an interesting insight into the mind set of a British naval officer in the Balkans.

This book has been heavily criticised in academic circles, particlularly for the authors assertion of the important role Troubridge played during the retreat. A view which is not supported by other evidence.

Air War for Yugoslavia, Greece and Crete 1940-41

Christopher Shores, Brian Cull and Nicola Malizia             Grub Street 1999           ISBN 0 948817 07 0

This reprint of the 1987 edition covers the air war in the Balkans from the Italian invasion of Greece until the fall of Crete. This is the definitive book on the subject with a full order of battle for all the participants together with a large number of photographs. A comprehensive index enabling the reader to track the units and personalities of the combatants. Excellent.

Romania and World War I

Glenn Torrey                      Oxford        ISBN 973 98391 6 9

This is a collection of nineteen articles on Romanian diplomacy during World War I. The early articles argue that Romania had decided to intervene on the side of the Entente in 1914 and it was only a question of picking the most appropriate time - as well as getting favourable concessions from the allies. Several articles cover the poor performance of the Romanian army, its strategic problems with a war on two fronts and the lack of practical support from the Russians and the allies in Salonika.The final articles deal with the collapse of Russia and post war diplomacy.

Junkers JU87: StukaGeschwader of North Africa and the Mediterranean

John Weal                                  Osprey Combat Aircraft 8

The latest in the Osprey Combat Aircraft series covers the famous Stuka dive-bomber used by German and Italian air forces in WW2. Having been savaged in the Battle of Britian the Stuka gained a new lease of life in Southern Europe in both the ground attack and anti-shipping role. Three chapters in the book are of Balkan interest. The first deals with the Italian squadrons which operated in Albania and Greece. In Italian service the Stuka was known as the 'Picchiatelli'. Two other chapters cover the German units during the invasion of the Balkans in 1941 and the later operations in the Aegean and in Yugoslavia. As always with Osprey books the highlights are the photographs and colour plates.

The German Army 1939-45 (2) North Africa & Balkans

Nigel Thomas                         Osprey MAA 316  (ISBN 1 85532 640-X)

This is the second in a series of MAA's on German army uniforms of WW2. This volume covers the Balkan campaign 1941-44. After a brief narrative of the campaigns and occupation forces there is a description of the main service uniforms supported by three excellent colour plates and a number of black and white photographs. Whilst a useful quick reference it is difficult to see what this volume adds to previous MAA's and the extensive range of other publications on this subject.

Black Lamb and Grey Falcon

Rebecca West                    Canongate              £10.99

Rebecca West's pre-WW2 account of her travels in Yugoslavia has been reprinted in paperback by Canongate. A newspaper review caused me to dig out my rather musty 1944 edition of this book. This is not a light read but given the current difficulties is well worth a look to gain an insight from a traveller with a sharp eye for detail. On visting a church on the edge of Kossovo Plain one of her companions, a Serb poet said ".. I do not think you will understand it, because it is very personal to us Serbs and that is something you foreigners can never grasp. It is too difficult for you, we are too rough and too deep for your smoothness and your shallowness". An eighty year old observation which might have come straight from the pages of a current Serbian newspaper.

Ploesti

James Dugan & Carroll Stewart           Brassey's (ISBN 1-57488-144-2)     309p

This is the story of Operation Tidal Wave, the bombing of the strategically vital Romanian oil refineries in August 1943. Churchill described Ploesti as "the taproot of German might", eleven huge refineries powering the nazi war machine. This well written book by journalists who worked with the US Air Force PR teams in WW2, draws on unpublished accounts and extensive research from both sides of the battle.

The First Balkan War 1912-1913: The War at Sea

A.J.Martins         Plantsman Press                   51p

A new booklet on the naval aspects of the war to follow his introductory guide to the conflict. The author covers the main actions with a full orbat, maps and details of the opposing fleets. There is a detailed bibliography of the English language sources he used and extensive footnotes. Highly recommended.

Military Operations - Macedonia

Captain Cyril Falls.  Battery Press (ISBN:0-89839-242-X) 409p

This is a two volume reprint of the official history of WW1 dealing with the Macedonian theatre of operations. The first volume covers the outbreak of war to Spring 1917, with the second volume covering the remainder of the war.

These volumes provide a wealth of detail about a campaign which has received little attention. The text covers all the main actions with helpful sketch maps and a fold out map of the whole theatre. As the British official history it inevitably concentrates on the actions involving British troops. Although the main operations of the French and Serbian armies are outlined. Organisation and support services including the supply difficulties are also covered together with orbats for all the participants.

Contrary to popular belief this well written history demonstrates that this was an active theatre of operations throughout the war. For the wargamer it provides an attractive alternative to the Western Front. Highly recommended.

 

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