The Peasant's Revolting Crimes
The Peasant's Revolting Crimes written by Terry Deary and published by Pen & Sword Books.
I must admit that when I was given a copy of this book I couldn’t wait to read it. As a kid I was always a fan of history and then when I was a young adult, Horrible Histories books written by the great Terry Deary appeared and I have been hooked ever since. Now I know people in the history world can be a bit snobbish about Terry Deary in that they see his books as not proper history, but I love him and the books, he has done so much to get children and adults interested in history.
This book takes back to around the Norman time and we gradually come up through ages to about the Victorian time and this book covers the aspect of crime and it focuses on the peasants through the ages. Well let’s face it you would hardly go round committing crimes if you were part of the landed gentry. But the book takes us through various crimes and poor situations people found themselves in. We hear about body snatchers, highwayman, grave robbers, witches, smugglers and rustlers. They’re all in there. This is a fascinating read and very well written, the style of the book isn’t like Horrible Histories but a grown-up version, so if you enjoyed them before you’ll love this new incarnation. I really hope Pen and Sword Books publish more books similar to this and I can fully recommend it young and old alike.
Creating Hitler's Germany
Creating Hitler's Germany written by Tim Heath and published by Pen & Sword Books.
This book is not about the rise of Nazism in Germany, it’s a book about Nazism from a ground level and how it affected people or the everyday person. This book looks at reasons why Nazism was allowed to flourish and the social environment in which it grew. This is the third book by Tim Heath that I have read about Germany, and I always find his work very well researched, presented and written. He very much focusses on the everyday person, the youth or even the women of the Third Reich, and I find this excellent because I enjoy this views of topics rather than the usual overall view from above or from the powers that be point.
I am hoping to read most of this author’s books now having already read three in the past few months. Tim Heath is very good at capturing the everyday social opinions of the people, which makes him an excellent writer of social history, I am hoping that we can see him write more books with Pen and Sword as they make a great fit.
This hardback book of about 210+ pages is a fantastic book about Nazi Germany with many reports and first-hand accounts from local people, this book is a real gem and together with the authors other works it is a definite must have read. I would certainly award it 5 stars out of 5.
Children at War
Children at War 1914-1918 written by Vivien Newman and published by Pen & Sword Books. Yet another great book from Pen & Sword Books, they really do publish great books which are always so well researched and written.
I enjoyed this book throughout, and it also covers a subject area rarely covered by historians and it was actually really good to read the thoughts and memories from various children’s accounts. I particularly like the chapter about Guiding and how they got along during the war, I suppose having an interest in youth movements it struck home and it was quite valid in that we don’t give as much recognition to the Guiding movement as we do the Scout movement.
The book can be very sad in parts especially the final chapters where we learn about children being moved away and being lost at sea on the Lusitania. The book has a great conclusion, with the endnotes and bibliography being very good in particular. I would definitely recommend this book to others and it’s not your usual war book or memories, it is good to hear the viewpoints from lots of children. The author has written a very thought out book with lots of great research and beautifully written.
Balloons & Airships
Balloons & Airships - A Tale of Lighter Than Air Aviation, written by Anthony Burton and published by the good people at Pen & Sword Books.
Now I will admit that I am not an expert on Balloons or Airships but my father used to work at RAF Cardington back in the '90s where they used to house the big airships in the enormously sized hangers. So ever since I've found them very fascinating, a bit like being a little kid again.
This is a very good book, an excellent amount of pictures and information. The information doesn't go too far deep or get so technical but just enough to entice the reader and keep them interested. The stories go right back to the start of flight at the beginning when airship/balloon travel we're in their infancy. I often think it was a shame that airship didn't make it to worldwide everyday travel but I suppose you can the main problems. I really enjoyed the book, especially the history of the subject but then that's by area. I would recommend this book to both the passing reader and the avid airships fan.
Following in the Footsteps of Henry Tudor, written by Phil Carradine and published by Pen & Sword Books
Having read a previous book by Carradine, Bloody Mary (see below) I was really looking forward to it and I wasn't left disappointed. The book is basically a look at the life of Henry Tudor from his growing up to the Battle of Bosworth Field. I was really looking forward to this, probably because he comes from my neck of the woods, Pembrokeshire. I had already learnt about Bosworth Field but it was nice to get his background and growing up in Wales. As usual with a Carradine book is very well written and informed and if you want more than just the basics in a book, Carradine does and excellent book.
A book I would highly recommend and an excellent intro into Tudor life. Pen & Sword books really do publish good royalty books, just something I coming to learn.
The Nazis Nuremberg Rallies
The Nazis Nuremberg Rallies by James Wilson and published by Pen & Sword Books. £19.99
I've always been fascinated in the Nuremberg Rallies because we've all seen the newsreel clips and Hitler can be seen talking to many thousands of people and they all seem to be at his command. I suppose I'm always fascinated by how he captured their attention and what was he saying to command their attention and it all seemed so loyal.
This book by James Wilson is excellent in that it goes into great detail, such as the organisation of the events, the layout, how things displayed and what was said. The book really does bring each and every rally to life, the book also has some rare photos that I haven't seen before and it also displays posters and postcards designed for the events. So you get to see the propaganda on multiple levels, which is great if your interested in seeing how things are branded or portrayed.
So important were these rallies that you can even see how some of today's politicians have copied the rhetoric, stance and how the words are spoken. The book is also complimented by some short biographies of all the Nazi power players, which helpfully adds some depth to the events. Overall this is a very good book and you get a real understanding of the events themselves, it would be nice to see another book similar to this that shows of some more of the publicity/propaganda.
The 19th Century Underworld
Written by Stephen Carver and published by Pen & Sword History.
Now for me anyway this is one of those books you get and you can't wait to get home and start reading it. Mainly because I have a love for a bit of crime and underworld, especially from the 19th century because it was a time when crime fighting hadn't been sorted out really, and some of the things that went on were really grim and deplorable. Now this book looks at lots of different things, the things that stick in my mind are the bodysnatchers, setting up the start of a crime bureau, children getting a very rough time, funerals and just the sheer number of different jobs that were around at the time There is the obligatory section that covers Jack the Ripper, a crime that will never be solved.
What makes this book apart from the writing and content is that it is so well written that it makes you fell a bit grimy and dirty too. Especially as the Dickesian era was such a dark and grim time. If I had one negative note about the book, it's that it is very London centric but then that it is very much what we know when reading about this time in history. Because London was so big and everything happened there, it's only normal that most authors gravitate towards the capital. This book is very well written and big thumbs up to the author and Pen & Sword Books. The book is absolutely fantastic and I will give it my highest mark in 5 stars out of 5.
The History of Women's Lives in Liverpool
The History of Women's Lives in Liverpool by Gill Rossini and published by Pen & Sword Books
Now, this is a book about all aspects of women's lives, now which city is going to have more stories and more about women, other than say London, it has to be Liverpool. With a rich history dating back hundreds of years, whether it be about working, school, health, being at home, sports, music and entertainment, this book is packed.
Now I particularly enjoyed the chapters about women's work in Liverpool because you've got so much industry and trade going in and out of Liverpool you can't help but have a wide variety of working life such as factories and the docks etc. When you think about it, the vast majority of the work other than the heavy-duty work could have and was done by women from the factory floor to the servant's maid floor. People always admire Liverpool people for being 'salt of the earth' characters and being down to earth. This comes across in the book and in my opinion, it's a very good book that I would be happy to recommend, as the book has clearly been very well researched and written.
Bloody Mary - Tudor Terror
Written By Phil Carradice and published by Pen & Sword History
For someone who had a short reign Mary Tudor certainly packed enough into life, despite having much of her life going against her due to her position in life and her beliefs. In my life anyway, I hadn’t really ever looked deeply into the subject of Mary Tudor, and to be honest at school and university she was always glossed over or seen as someone who was unimportant. Now this book published by Pen & Sword History although short, it is high in information and quality.
The author of the book Phil Carradice books writes a very well written book that seems very well researched and writing. As a newcomer to the subject I thoroughly enjoyed taking in all the facts in what turned out to be a very bloody reign. We are taken through the growing up period and then the reign but it doesn’t shy away from anything, and you read all about the religion, burnings and conflicts that Mary Tudor went through. I would recommend this book especially as a newcomer to the subject and the book is very well written and I personally would give it a 4 stars out of 5.
The Grimy 1800s
The Grimy 1800s written by Andre Green and published by Pen and Sword Books.
This book is like a large collection of complaints by inspectors of various things to do with overcrowding, sewage, water supplies, food, contamination, animals, smells etc. It’s basically a book that deals with the grubby world of what we would call today health and safety inspectors, having to deal with a problem, or finding a problem, trying to sort out the problem in various ways and trying to make sure in law that the problems can’t then arise again. It also shows how although you have people trying to enforce the rules and make people stick to them, they, in turn, received very little support by the powers that be who make the laws.
On a side note this book is very factual and we often get to see the population growth of various areas and locations. Interestingly it shows the growth or rather explosion in populations especially around the mid-1800s as people moved from the rural areas into the cities and the slums. Which then clearly showed up that the inspectors were fighting a losing battle most of the time, because of the subject, the powers that be were not really interested I’m sure sanitary isn’t sexy really.
Whilst this book might not be to everyone’s taste, I would recommend giving it a read, it’s very well written and presented well it also gives a good snapshot into social history into this country. This book isn’t London centric, the reports come from all over the country.
Life in Medieval Europe - Fact & Fiction
Life in Medieval Europe written by Daniele Cybulskie and published by Pen & Sword Books.
I went into the reading of this book expecting it to be little dry or hard to read, and what a surprise I was in for. Life in Medieval Europe wasn’t dull and nether was this book at all, credit to the author Daniele Cybulskie as the writing and the information revealed is very interesting, intriguing and compelling to read. The book is split into various subjects, with each chapter dealing with a topic such as Health, Death, Faith, Love and Food. Then each chapter/subject is broken down into various questions, which the author will then answer such as were punishments brutal, how did the Knights train, did they often get to use their skills and so on and so on. The answers weren’t just short and blunt or long-winded and boring. The answer the reader gets is a well informed and to the point answer explained very clearly.
Having read this book that was thoroughly enjoyed it answered quite a few questions but I am looking forward to more of this authors’ works because although I was satisfied it left me wanting to learn more about Medieval Europe. There is an excellent bibliography and notes section at the back of the book which I endeavour to plough through and pick out the best. Overall this is a modern and clear book on an old and often dusty subject, I would very much recommend this book to any reader but especially to an avid reader or student of the subject. On top of that another good author I am interested in finding more of their work to read up on.
Misjudged Murderesses written by Stephen Jakobi and published by Pen & Sword Books
When I was given this book to read, I had a flick through and even though crime isn’t my leading subject, it looked good and interesting. I will admit that I found this book hard to get through as it wasn’t what I expected. This book looks at a number of murder cases from the past involving women, and ultimately in the book claims that these women were misjudged or wronged in their convictions. But it does this through, newspaper reports, transcripts, documents etc. It felt like, although using primary documents was good, it needed to be enveloped more by the author to bring everything together. In some cases, it seemed up in the air to me, even if it might have been the author’s opinion some kind of narrative or storytelling conclusion from the author would have been much better.
Whilst I probably wouldn't recommend this book, it might actually be ideal for someone else, I think it was probably the style that it was written in that I didn't enjoy reading.
South-East Northumberland at War 1939-45
South-East Northumberland at War 1939-45 written by Craig Armstrong and published by Pen and Sword Books.
Part of the Your Towns and Cities in World War Two series, I had high hopes for this book as it was the second one in the series I have read. To which I can happily confirm I was not disappointed by. This book covers the are of the UK where my Dad's family comes from, so I might be a little biased. But it was a thoroughly knockout book absolutely packed with information and interesting reading.
This particular book comes across as a very intimate read about the area, it deals with the course of the ward, what went on the building up of the services as the war went on, the local people and how the community worked together and adapted to circumstances. Having been to the area it is a very rural and coastal place with lots of small towns and cities surrounded by countryside. Reading this book and recognising most of the places it was a great read. Also for a small book, I hadn't expected it to be packed with so much text and the pictures/charts are great too, very informative. A book that I hope does well and should sell well in that particular area.
The Normandy Air War 1944
Images of War - The Normandy Air War 1944 written by Anthony Tucker-Jones and published by Pen & Sword Books.
I must first start off with an apology, I have always avoided these type of books 'Images' like the plague, because basically when I read a book I want lots of text not lots of pictures. I will now say this book has changed my view completely, and apologies for giving away the ending of this review before the end, but it was excellent and very informative indeed. I think I was a little more inclined to this book because as a kid my father was in RAF, so I have seen quite a few of these great planes up close.
I found that I loved all the pictures and the associated text with the various pictures was so informative I learnt so much. This book has pictures of planes involved in the war on Normandy from the Allies, Germany and more. The pictures are just brilliant in many ways such as Lancasters, Spitfires, Halifax's, Messerschmitts, Fokkes, Typhoons, Mustangs and much more. But these aren't just pages of 'look at me I'm a plane' these are planes in action, in various forms of action. Some of the shots are just amazing as you see the damage they cause and the damage caused to them, with all the phots being sourced from various wartime archives.
The text in this book is good in that I learnt a lot about the various commanders and generals involved in the Normandy invasion. It gives you an excellent journey through the invasion from the picture/plane viewpoint and tells the excellent story.
I have a couple more of these books to review in the series and I really do look forward o reading them. As you would expect I would highly recommend this book to anyone and happily give it a 5-star rating.
Derbyshire at War 1939-45
Derbyshire at War 1939-45 written by Glynis Cooper and published by Pen & Sword Books.
Now I will admit that I am a sucker for a bit of local history so I was really looking forward to this book. It is all set out in chapters covering each year of the war which is good as it lays it out for you. Also all the local information, titbits, and stories were excellent. I hadn't realised that dummy towns and places were set up in the middle of nowhere to confuse planes dropping bombs, to save people from being killed or places destroyed.
Now I don't usually list what I didn't like, but I found that although the information and work were all really very good indeed. I didn't need to know what was happening that year in the war, and I found that the book/information could have been a lot longer. The book is about 100 pages long and would have liked to have learned more about local history during the war. Whilst I would recommend to others, I would probably only recommend this book to those who are from that area as the research was excellent, the length of the book was too short.
A Century of Man-Made Disasters
A Century of Man-Made Disasters by Nigel Blundell and published by Pen & Sword Books.
This book has a total of 15 chapters that looks at various disasters on various subjects over the 20th century, ranging from the sinking of the Titanic to the Space Race, disasters on trains, ferries and football matches etc etc. At first, when I read the book, I thought it might feel a bit macabre, and although this book does contain plenty of photos and images, They are all done tastefully, there is little weird voyeurism.
I actually remember most of these or was aware of the disasters and although a lot of people died, the informed and balanced accounts given are very good and informative. This is a book I would recommend to others for an informative and quick read if you were looking for in-depth you would need to look deeper into the individual disasters.
Women of the Third Reich
Women of the Third Reich written by Tim Heath and published by Pen & Sword Books.
This is an excellent book from the outset, I was really looking forward to this as I for some reason love reading about the younger generation in Nazi Germany. Reading about what their lives entailed, how they were treated and how much control the regime had over them and were they as easily controlled as the adult population was. I have read previously another book written by Tim Heath and I think what you get from his books is that they are always well written and they come across at the readers level rather than being superficial or too much into the detail, the balance is always struck at the right level.
WWII is clearly the authors' expertise and if you read his other books which cover the same time period, he is clearly informed and knows his stuff. He has written a number of books about girls and women in Nazi Germany, so you know your going to get a well informed and accurate text to read. Which always makes a good difference because the youth of Germany is a much forgotten piece of history of the time.
I am moving onto reading Heath's next book Creating a Nazi Germany, which I already know I will enjoy. I would recommend this book to every reader, whether you are a student of history or not, as it is an excellent read and certainly worth a five star read.
D-Day - The Soldier's Story
D-Day - The Soldier's Story, written by Giles Milton and published by John Murray Press.
Well what can I say about this book, for a start I usually avoid books and films about popular things or events, I'm not sure why. But this book about the soldier's experience during D-Day and more has been absolutely brilliant and fascinating. It's been so good to read a book without all the military jagon, maps, troop formations etc. This book very much focuses on the man in the trenches, the soldier on the ground and all the turmoil, feelings and experiences they are going through. Some of the stories of everyday soldier are just brilliant. I'm not sure if I'll ever forget the double agent allowed to cycle up and down the enemy lines mapping out the terrain, buildings etc to help out the allied forces in full cyling gear.
The stories range from the highs to the lows and the comaradery and experience really come through to the reader from the writer. Milton clearly knows his stuff and is well informed as he goes through the day. I reviewed another book from Giles Milton, Churchill's Ministry of Ungentlemenly Warfare, that was also brilliantly written and this book is no different. I would even go as far as to say that this book D-Day by Giles Milton is by far the best book that I have read this year. A must read for all. 5 stars.
The History of Women's Lives in Oxford
A History of Women’s Lives in Oxford is written by Nell Darby and published by Pen & Sword Books, one of a series of books looking at the lives of women in various towns and cities around the country.
Now you would expect a book about the history of women’s lives in Oxford to be a little dry and a tad bit boring, I mean when you think about what is Oxford famous for and you’ll probably say universities. But far from it indeed this is a very informative and interesting book looking at mainly the last 150 years, it covers various subjects from health to prisons and work life to education. It’s not just about middle class women who can attend university it’s is about many classes of women and how life has affected them in Oxford.
I probably enjoyed the chapter about work life the most as I always find this section the most interesting and there is usually more written about women in their work life than any other. While you would expect life in Oxford to quite appealing or a little non-descript, women who lived in Oxford had a hard life too, maybe not as much in other British cities like Liverpool of London, but women did still have to fight their way to the top here too.
This book is very good and informative, it also benefits the reader a lot in that it has a list of primary sources and references listed which gives that added quality feel to it that makes you think the book has been very well researched and sourced by the author Nell Darby.
This book is one I would recommend to others along with the other books in this series that has been published by Pen & Sword Books.
Tracing Your Irish Family History on the Internet
Written by Chris Paton and published by Pen & Sword History.
The author Chris Paton has provided an excellent guide and resource for conducting Irish research online. This book is so much more than a superficial list of obvious websites. The author has gone into great detail about the various resources available in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. It's also broken into geographical sections to help you hone into a specific location. Another good thing that the book does is that it lists companies and trades to help you find what you need.
Don't expect a quick survey of what's available. This work is filled with a plethora of Irish websites and history, all described with clarity and purpose. This book is for the researcher who wants to leverage the tools of online research. Having previously done my own family history, which was Welsh and suffers the same as Irish names in that a majority can found under one surname. You need that little extra help in pushing you in the right direction.
I would strongly recommend this title if you are willing to do some serious Irish research on your ancestors, it will certainly get you that one step ahead of the rest.
Forgotten Royal Women is beautiful and well written book that looks back over the lives of women in the background of royal life. Some of the wives, mothers, sisters and cousins, the women who get forgotten about or written about. It’s like bringing their lives out of the cupboard for a change rather than just concentrating on the male protagonists. The author of the book looks at about 30 women and writes short, explanations and stories of their lives. Some down to earth and ‘normal’ and some rather surprising stories. These are all very well written but also interspersed with some little bits of humour.
What is also good about the book is that it is not just about English women there is information about English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish women which helps give the book a wider spectrum rather than it being dominated by English royalty. Unlike the majority of royal books about Kings and Queens, where your informed of all the battles, politics and ruling of various crowns. This book tells us of the stories and politics that went on in the background surrounding the female members of the families of the time. What also makes the book ideal is that it covers such a long time span from Scota 1400BC to Princess Charlotte in 1796.
In conclusion, I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in royal history or women’s history. I would say that it is fascinating to read all the little biographies, with some that you can quite sympathise with. If there is anything that I would have liked, would have been that the biographies were a little longer or more in-depth, on the odd occasion just as you were getting to a story it was ending. I would give this book a 4 out of 5 stars.