Books


Ramblings

No club again this week, I had/volunteered to accompany the boss to a meeting at a local hospital, in between speakers the nurse made us all stand up and do some stretching etc., I hadn't signed up for physical abuse. Why is it that most speakers, despite their in depth knowledge of a subject, put you to sleep, I have been following several such on military matters on YouTube and I just give up the will to breathe.I have not mentioned the entertainment world in an age, mainly because I went through a patch where there was nothing to watch, then all of a sudden several shows turned up which I had been following, this sadly did not do me any good. "Van Helsing", nonsense about vampires obviously, this is now too ludicrous to watch, the same fate has befallen "Zombie Nation", I know it sounds daft but both programmes have lost the plot. In my defence these were 'to paint by' programmes, I would not actually sit down and watch one on its own. I did enjoy 'Curfew' and another dystopian piece 'Black Summer' the lat

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CSS Alabama vs USS Kearsage

I'm now reading this Osprey Duel book as a bit of light entertainment over the weekend. It's actually really good and full of fascinating details not just in relation to the famous encounter between the two warships but for the development of gunnery, ironclad construction technology and naval tactics in the age of steam powered screw vessels. There's also some excellent artwork, both contemporary and modern, with lots of line drawings, photographs and paintings. A good read!

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Up the Yalu

It's Friday and pay day, so I splashed out on the latest Osprey Publishing Duel, Chinese Ironclad Battleship vs. Japanese Protected Cruiser, which on first impressions is actually really good even after just a quick thumb through. Many years ago I took part in a big multiplayer game of the Battle of Yalu, using the A and A publishing Tsushima rules and 1/3000th scale Navwar ships. I ended up commanding the Matsushima for the Japanese but didn't cover myself in glory, as I think I blew up fairly early on in the game! I know Tumbling Dice have a very nice Chinese and Japanese range that covers the First Sino Japanese war but it's probably best if I leave that well alone, at least for the foreseeable. I have other plans underway!

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Dreadwing - David Guymer

A Horus Heresy novella from the "series 1" of books by Black Library, touching all of their lines.As a prelude to the Siege of Terra, this book follows the Lion and his Dark Angels, far away from the battle of Terra and the Imperial Palace.With the Ruinstorm broken and the forces of Guilliman and Sanguinius making all haste for Terra, the Dark Angels lead a bloody campaign of annihilation against the worlds of the Traitor Legions.  But as the Legion fragments and the tally of the shattered worlds between them and Terra grows, it falls to the Wing Lieutenants to question whether the Lion still wages a war he intends to win - or one he has already lost.The great thing of this novella, is that it also learns us some more about the other, now gone, wings of the Legion and their roles.  The Firewing, who provided long range and anti armour support, and the Dreadwing, a sort of infiltrator havoc causer troops.A nice little book, and it shows the pain of the Legion knowing that perhaps the best loyalist wa

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European Ironclads 1860-75

I pre-ordered this new Osprey a while back and it arrived as a digital copy yesterday, so I read it on the boat over from France. It's actually not bad and better than the companion volume on British Ironclads, at least as far as the artwork is concerned. It does jump about all over the place to begin with but then has clear sections on each of the main European nations and their ironclad fleets, with the French being my particular area of interest. It's in no way a detailed study but as a general introduction and for wargaming purposes it's fine. The best bit is probably the last section on the Battle of Lissa, which is a good wargaming explanation if a very brief one. I am going to use some of the artwork as a painting guide for my French ironclads too.

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The Siege of Tsingtau

This is turning out to be a very interesting read, as it doesn't just detail the actual siege but covers the establishment of the whole German Far East Asian Empire in the South Pacific and mainland China. There's a fascinating insight into the fundamental role of the Imperial German Navy as a driver and mechanism for colonial expansion, both to obtain coaling stations and naval bases but also to project power in one of the few remaining places that offered 'a place in the sun'. I have a long ferry journey tomorrow so plan to read further and pinch some ideas for a 'what if?' pre-dreadnought solo campaign.

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French Commerce Raiders

I have ordered a couple of Tumbling Dice armoured cruisers for my up and coming pre-dreadnought project, which is based in the Far East c1900-1905. These are two Gueydon class armoured cruisers, two of which, Montcalm and Gueydon, were deployed to French Indochina and the South Pacific to fly the flag in 1902-03. I've just started reading the Siege of Tsingtau by Charles Stephenson, in which he sets out the rivalries over the Philippines after the Spanish American War as well as the clashes between the various powers over China and Manchuria. There's loads of 'what if's' to be used as scenario and campaign 'hooks', so a couple of  commerce raiding French cruisers are a very handy addition to the set up. 

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Tsushima

I've just quickly read this new(ish) book on the Battle of Tsushima to refresh my pre-dreadnought project ideas, although in typical Osprey fashion it includes an overview of the whole Russo Japanese naval war. It's not bad at all, despite the strange cover art and limited scope for a detailed historical account. It's not as good as the two volume coverage in the MMP series by Piotr Olender, both of which are excellent from a wargaming perspective, but it's useful as a basic overview, with some good maps and illustrations.

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Dervish

 I'm re-reading this now, having originally read it years ago, so that I can brush up on the Suakin Field Force campaign amongst other interesting things. It's a bit long in the tooth and nowhere near as good as Mike Snook's Go Strong Into the Desert, which is superb. It will do for the moment, however, and will give me some inspiration for my The Men Who Would Be Kings 1884-85 Sudan skirmish project.

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The Black Devil's March

A second hand book added to the library yesterday, once again from the Oxfam charity shop in town, this time being an illustrated history of the First Polish Armoured Division in NW Europe, primarily from D-Day to the occupation of Germany. The author is from Winchester, so I suspect that's why it ended up in the local bookshop, but it's a valuable addition to the collection either way. There's lots of black and white photographs, some of which I haven't seen before, as well as an overview of the campaign, so very useful for scenario development and scale modelling, with obvious relevance to What a Tanker!, IABSM and Chain of Command, amongst other things.

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The Key to Lisbon: The Third French Invasion of Portugal, 1810-11

This study details the preparation, planning and execution of the invasion of Portugal in 1810 by the French Armée de Portugal under Marshal Massena, and the defensive measures taken by the British and their Portuguese and Spanish allies.It also covers the practice of all armies involved during this campaign, working from original sources. These sources provide a different interpretation of some key aspects of the campaign to those which are generally accepted.The work focuses on the strategic, operational, and tactical planning undertaken by both sides in preparation for the invasion, and the actual progress of the campaign. A narrative of the battles and sieges, with analysis at the tactical-level, also brings out the differences in planning and intelligence gathering. This particular campaign is important as it has attracted little attention from historians, and was crucial as a turning point in the Peninsular War.This was the last time that Portugal was invaded by the French during the Peninsular War, and

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Tank Destroyer: Achilles & M10, British Army Anti-Tank Units, Western Europe, 1944-1945

In this heavily illustrated volume in the TankCraft series Dennis Oliver focuses on the Achilles - the British variant of the American M10 - which was one of the most important Allied tank destroyers of the Second World War.It played a key role in the armoured battles fought on the Western Front, in particular in France, the Low Countries, Germany and Italy. Built on an adapted Sherman chassis, with sloped armour, an open-topped turret and powerful 17-pounder gun, it was designed to counter the threat posed by the formidable panzers deployed by the German army towards the end of the conflict, in particular the Panther and Tiger tanks.The book covers the design and operational history of the Achilles in close detail, using rare archive photographs and meticulously researched colour illustrations, as well as a detailed, authoritative text. A key section displays available model kits and aftermarket products, complemented by a gallery of beautifully constructed and painted models in various scales.Technical deta

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Book Review: The Professional Creature Design Handbook by Jordu Schell

The Professional Creature Design Handbook (Part One) by Jordu Schell, $5In an effort to re-invigorate my sculpting work I picked up this ebook the other day. It has just been released and I am really glad I spotted it.The focus of the book is on creature design for the film industry, however, after having a quick scan through it, it will prove invaluable to anyone who plans to design fantasy, alien or supernatural creatures, whether they be for film, illustration, kit collectors/painters, or the wargaming table.Jordu Schell has worked on a huge list of movies over the years ranging from Avatar and Hellboy through AvP: Requiem and Evolution to Babylon 5, Batman Returns and Alien: Resurrection. He has amassed a great deal of experience in designing and sculpting fantastic creatures.This book is the first instalment in a series (as the "Part One" in the title suggests) of ebooks that will eventually cover every aspect of creature design.It gives a little bit of insight into the author's career and motivatio

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Warhammer 40,000: Vigilus Ablaze – Review

Simply put, it feels as though Vigilus Ablaze sets out and accomplishes most of its goals. Whatever happens after the events of this story, this is one book I'm not too disgruntled to be carrying around to most of my games. I foresee it getting plenty of use as it brings further life to my games. [...] The post Warhammer 40,000: Vigilus Ablaze – Review appeared first on Tabletop Games UK.

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