Zeppelin vs British Home Defence 1915-18 by Jon Guttman, Jim Laurier, Gareth Hector
Published by Osprey Publishing on March 20, 2018
Genres: Equipment, Uniforms, Weapons
German Infantryman vs Russian Infantryman – 1914–15 by Robert Forczyk, Adam Hook
Published by Osprey Publishing on April 21, 2015
Editor’s Note: Osprey Publishing’s “versus” books cover many historical eras and weapon systems, from ancient Roman Legionary versus Carthaginian Warrior (Combat #35) to F-15C Eagle vs MiG 23/25 (Duel #72). Each of these splendid studies contain 80 pages, photos, color illustrations and often color maps, a bibliography that sometimes includes foreign language sources, and a useful index despite their small size. The authors include PhD historians to veterans familiar with the weapon systems.
These publications should not be dismissed as something for “specialists” or hobbyists. These excellent books provide a unique view of soldiers, aircraft, or tanks, detailed images and notes on equipment and organization, plus show how tactics actually worked on the battlefield.
For World War One, two of the titles of this series are shown here. They include a study of Zeppelins over England by noted aviation historian and author Jon Guttman, research director for History.net, and U.S. Army veteran and National Security PhD Robert Forczyk’s book on German and Russian infantrymen on the Eastern Front, reviewed below.
Robert Forczyk’s book on combat in East Prussia in the opening months of the war is a thorough and illuminating work on a subject commonly misinterpreted or ignored. The sources reveal never-before-seen photos, detailed battlefield maps, and artist renditions of what the combatants looked like.
Forczyk provides a superb analysis of tactics and combat performance at three battles: Gumbinnen (20 August 1914), Göritten (7 November 1914) and Mahartse (16 February 1915). He examines the evolving nature of infantry warfare on the Eastern Front. Central to the tactical portrayal of the battles fought are Russian- and German language sources rarely seen in the West. The accounts on the battle of Gumbinnen alone make the book worthwhile.
Abridged from review by Terrence Finnegan in RoadstotheGreatWar-ww1.blogspot.com/
Instrument of War: The German Army 1914–18 by Dennis E. Showalter
Published by Osprey Publishing on November 22, 2016
Winner of the 2016 Tomlinson Prize Award
This is not a chronological presentation of campaigns and battles with maps and combat statistics, yet it is perhaps one of the most important books written about the German Army in the First World War.
Dennis Showalter, author of Tannenberg: Clash of Empires, 1914 (Brassey’s, 2004), was recently chosen for the Pritzker Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing. He has spent more than 50 years researching and teaching military history. This book represents his fresh perspective on the German Army during WW1. It explores that army’s internal dynamics and operational strategy, showing how both the army and nation were changed by war.
By 1916 the German Army had proved itself as “the Great War’s most comprehensively effective fighting force….” But “Strategic planning was not its forte. Its high command’s record was at best questionable.” And “after eighteen months, without any reasonable doubt fighting a war of attrition … [it] could not win.” Showalter concludes “the kaiser’s army … existed not to serve state and society but to sustain [itself]…. A recipe for defeat and dissolution.” Highly recommended.
Reviewed by Dana Lombardy, publisher of WWOI
The First Blitz: Bombing London in the First World War by Ian Castle
Published by Osprey Publishing on October 20, 2015
Ian Castle tells the story of the Zeppelin, Gotha, and Giant air raids on London in WW1. It is one of the best overviews in print, devoting a fair amount of attention to the raids’ effects on the populace but also covering well all the other aspects of the topic.
The maps are beautiful and very helpful in guiding the reader. This reviewer walked the route taken by Heinrich Mathy’s Zeppelin L13 on its devastating September 1915 raid and visited a number of other sites described in the text. The combination of Castle’s descriptions, maps, and Christa Hook’s paintings get the reader quite close to being on the sites themselves.
Osprey reprinted and updated two of Castle’s earlier works to create this single volume. London 1914-17: The Zeppelin Menace and London 1917-18: The Bomber Blitz. If you have neither or only one of them, however, this book is well worth reading. The use of footnotes would have improved this history, but that is a small complaint about this work that is otherwise exceptional.
Reviewed by Steve Suddaby, past president of WW1HA