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Best Military History Author

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  • Best Military History Author

    I have to say Richard Holmes is the best.
    'where da potato at?'
    The Irishman said during the 1845 potato famine

  • #2
    Good call.

    "Richard Holmes is a military historian. He has spent most of his working life as a lecturer and scholar, firstly at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst and latterly at Cranfield University, where he has been Director of the Security Studies Institute since 1990. He has written more than twenty books, mainly on the British soldier and his experiences, which have been well received by historians as well as proving extremely popular with the general reader. He has also presented seven series of programmes on BBC2. But Richard Holmes is more than an academic historian. He spent 36 years in the Territorial Army, joining as a private in 1964 and rising to the rank of Brigadier. He relinquished his academic post to command the 2nd Battalion of the Wessex Regiment, Territorial Army, full time for almost three years. To an extent which is exceedingly rare amongst historians he knows whereof he speaks, his wide experience being marked by his formal title of Brigadier Professor Holmes."


    • #3
      Holmes has the ability to communicate the complexities of warfare in a manner that is easily digestible without 'dumbing down' the important issues. It's a trick few authors manage - Ian Kershaw, for example, is a brilliant historian but tends to write for other historians (the use of latin terms is utterly unnecessary even if it looks good on the page - not saying Kershaw does this all the time, but it's something historians seem to like to do a lot).

      My vote would go to Richard Overy who, like Holmes, communicates his ideas in a digestible form. His 'Why the Allies Won' is essential reading for any student of World War Two and his other works are all worth investigating.
      Signing out.


      • #4
        Richard Holmes is also a JP (justice of the peace) and has a CBE (commander of the British Empire).

        I have four of his books:
        Redcoat: The British Soldier in the Age of Horse and Musket
        The D-Day Experience: From the Invasion to the Liberation of Paris
        Sahib: The British Soldier in India 1750-1914
        World War II in Photographs
        and read Wellington: The Iron Duke.
        'where da potato at?'
        The Irishman said during the 1845 potato famine


        • #5
          Peter Fitzsimons book about Tobruk is one of the best I have read. He gives credit where it's due and it is very well written. He includes letters and stories about the soldiers involved as well as their families. He also includes the German perspective with personal accounts. The whole book takes you in which is a good indicator. He also has one out about Kokoda but I haven't got that yet.

          One other author I have great respect for is Kenneth Macksey. In all his books he has been able to delve into the minds of those he writes about. There is no glorification in his books, they are warts and all affairs which I also appreciate.

          As to other writers, there are so many who are good. We are fortunate in that respect.


          • #6
            My vote is for Roger Spiller whose writings pierced the mystery of men in battle.
            You may recall Spiller identified unsubstantiated calculations for ratio of fire in SLA Marshall's Men Against Fire; his published in RUSI Journal Winter 1988.

            He wrote Shell Shock (American Heritage); Isen's Run: Human Dimensions of Warfare in the 20th Century(Military Review); My Guns: A Memoirs of The Second World War (American Heritage; In the Shadow of the Dragon: Doctrine and the US Army After Vietnam (RUSI); The Tenth Imperative (Military Review); The Price of Valor (MHQ).

            He published Sharp Corners, a study of urban warfare with Combat Studies Institute. And he is the author of An Instinct for War.
            Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.


            • #7
              I'm rather partial to Adrian Goldsworthy, since my prime area of interest is ancient times. He has written many books on Rome, Carthage and the Punic Wars. I especially enjoyed In the Name of Rome : The Men Who Won the Roman Empire, a fascinating collection of studies of Rome's greatest generals and his new biography Caesar : Life of a Colossus.
              All questions are valid, all answers are tentative.


              • #8
                Richard Holmes brings Military history to life, a great author and broadcaster, i am also an avid reader of Mark Adkin. Simon Schama sends me to sleep.
                Never Fear the Event

                Admiral Lord Nelson


                • #9
                  All outstanding examples but they too... know and appreciate Dr. David G. Chandler


                  • #10
                    Michael Howard for European history and particularly the 19th century.

                    Stephen Turnbull - in his element of Feudal Japan, which interests me personally.

                    Douglas Southall Freeman, whose study in command, Lee's Lieutenants, is the best ever written for any subject.


                    • #11
                      I'd go for Holmes as well

                      The '4 part trilogy' - Redcoat, Sahib, Tommy & Dusty Warriors are superb histories of the English soldier.

                      Tommy is the best single book I've read on WW1

                      Redcoat is the best single book I've read on the Brown Bess era

                      I've re-read both 3+ times, he's a great writer as well as a great writer of history

                      His Wellington book is good, I've not read the Marlborough yet

                      Plus be was my Battalion Commander way back when and a good, decent officer.

                      One of the very few general historians who also held senior rank it gives him a very rounded and knowledgeable viewpoint
                      Stay ignorant, watch FOX.



                      • #12
                        I personally love Keegan's style and new approaches to old subjects.
                        All warfare is based on deception.
                        Sun Tzu - Art of war - Chapter One - Laying Plans


                        • #13
                          Well in the naval arena I would suggest, the recently deceased David K Brown and Dr Norman Friedman

                          "You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life." Churchill

                          "I'm no reactionary.Christ on the Mountain! I'm as idealistic as Hell" Eisenhower


                          • #14
                            Dennis Showalter

                            Not to diminish anything from the authors already mentioned earlier, but I would like to break a lance for: Dennis Showalter, a paragon of insight and clear writing.

                            Anybody worth his salt here should be familiar with his: Tannenberg 1914: Clash of Empires. IMO as 'Tannenberg' can be quite an overwhelming book, his talents can be appreciated even better in his short work: Hindenburg: Icon of German militarism. No piling up of superfluous information here (the man's career indeed is unremarkable till 1914), but then Showalter succinctly provides all the needed information on his wartime (relation to Ludendorff) and post WW1 (his attitude to Nazis) career.

                            Apart from these titles Showalter wrote many more on military history, e.g.: 'Patton and Rommel, Men of War in the Twentieth Century' which expertly covers a very popular subject without doing any concessions to popular taste.

                            You may not be interested in War, but War is interested in You - Leon Trotski, June 1919.


                            • #15
                              I've become a big fan of Richard Holmes in recent years. Besides some of the books already mentioned, his "Unknown Soldier" and "Riding the Retreat", where he follows the ground where the British retreated from Mons to the Marne on horseback, are two of my fave WWI books.

                              And John Keagan is another one of my faves - some of his books can start a little stuffy and slow, but once you get into them they make for terrific and informative reads.

                              Mark Urban is another author I've come to enjoy, and I really like Michael Asher's "Khartoum". Great stuff.


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