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T he Franco-Prussian War 1870-71 Volume 1 by Quintin Barry     The Franco-Prussian War in 1870 set Europe on a course of dea...

The Franco-Prussian War 1870-71 Volume 1 by Quintin Barry The Franco-Prussian War 1870-71 Volume 1 by Quintin Barry

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Casemate Publishing

  The Franco-Prussian War in 1870 set Europe on a course of death and destruction for seventy-five years. The French loss engendered the revenge seen in World War I, which in turn brought on the vengeance of World War II. You might tie the Franco-Prussian War to the collapse of Europe from its dominant place in world politics, due to the above.

 In order for Germany to be united, the War had to happen. The smaller German states would never have rallied around Prussia if there was still a powerful outside nation to play them one against the other. The defeat in 1866 of Austria-Hungary set up Bismarck for his final challenge: to defeat France and then unify Germany over her prostrate form. Had Bismarck not taken Alsace-Lorraine as one of the spoils of war, maybe France would not have seethed so long and hard with the idea of revanche.

Helmuth von Moltke the elder

 The Franco-Prussian War was brought on by a telegram, helped by Bismarck's artful editing, before it was released to the press. The Ems telegram was made to look by Bismarck to be a French ultimatum for assurances that the crown of Spain would not go to a Hohenzollern.

 Mr. Barry, in this first volume about the war, goes into all of the different sticks laid on the proverbial camel's back from 1866 until the aforementioned telegram. He also goes into the building of the Prussian Army, and especially of its general staff under Moltke the elder. The book shows all of the different strengths and weaknesses of both the France and Prussia and her allies' armed forces. The technological superiority of the French Chassepot rifle had almost twice the effective range of the Prussian needle gun. It also explains how the French also misused their 'secret' weapon, the Mitrailleuse, which was the world's first effective machine gun, although it was much closer to a Gatling gun in its actual operation. The Prussian steel breech loading cannon, and their more effective use by them in 1870 compared to 1866, is shown to the reader.

Napoleon III

 The book goes into all of the battles on the frontier, and shows how the French gave better than they received through most of the engagements. The French, with a determined and centralized command structure, might have been able to at least bloody the Prussian nose enough to give Moltke pause. Unfortunately for them, the French soldiers' magnificent fighting was thrown away time after time by their generals. The near suicidal attacks by the Prussian and German soldiers on the French at Spicheren, Weissenburg, and Wörth pushed the French relentlessly back out of some excellent defensive positions. This was only after the French had inflicted large casualties on their attackers.

 The encirclement battles of the siege of Metz, and the final battle of the first part of the campaign Sedan are told to the reader along with all of the might have-beens had the French been able to work as an army instead of just as separated units.

 In the beginning of the book there is an interesting memorandum written by Moltke on the subject of the possibility of Austria entering into the war on the side of France:

  "If the political situation brings about a war of France against Prussia then the attitude of Austria will be either decidedly hostile or at least very doubtful. Should we oppose one half of our army to each of these two powers, we would be superior to neither. Therefore the first thing to be considered is: against which enemy will we in the start assume the defensive with minor forces, in order to advance offensively as strong as possible against the other?"

 Seeing that Schlieffen was tutored in the great general staff under Moltke, is it possible that this is where the 'Schlieffen Plan' actually comes from?

   The book was published by Helion and Company and distributed by Casemate Publishing. It includes seventy-four black and white pictures and also has seventeen maps of the campaign and battles.


Book: The Franco-Prussian War 1870-71 Volume 1
Author: Quintin Barry
Publisher: Helion and Company
Distributor: Casemate Publishing
Date of Review: 11/12/16

The White Sniper Simo Häyhä by Tapio A.M. Sarelinen   " I did what I was told to do, as well as I could. There would be no...

The White Sniper Simo Häyhä by Tapio A.M. Saarelinen The White Sniper Simo Häyhä by Tapio A.M. Saarelinen

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Casemate Publishing

The White Sniper Simo Häyhä

Tapio A.M. Sarelinen

  " I did what I was told to do, as well as I could. There would be no Finland unless everyone else had done the same" Simo Häyhä.

  We have had a number of books and movies recently about the exploits of snipers. None of the others even come close to Simo Häyhä. His record of 542 confirmed kills is head and shoulders above the rest, mainly because he used his own M28-30 rifle with only iron sites. If given a fifty caliber sniper rifle and a state of the art scope, he might have been able to shoot out Stalin's left eye from the Finnish border. The other fact that makes his kill record unbelievable is the fact that he was only in action ninety-eight days during the Russo-Finnish or Winter war. His daily average of kills was an astonishing 5.53. All of these facts are simply amazing. As the book points out, an American study found that 7,000 rifle shots were needed in WWI to achieve a combat kill. During the Vietnam War, this had risen to 25,000. Compare this to a professionally trained sniper who needs just 1.3 shots for a kill.

 Finland is one of those European countries that we take for granted.  Oh sure, we know where it is on a map, but the country's history, and especially its military history, is a blank page to many. Finland, much like Switzerland, is a country that no one thinks of when military ardor is thought of. The truth is the Swiss were the greatest mercenaries for a few hundred years of European history. Finland's martial history, while not as far reaching as the Swiss, is just as decorated either fighting for or against Swedish kings or Russian czars. The Winter War was Stalin's attempt to emulate Hitler. Stalin wanted to take some land from Finland, and he made sure the Finns understood "it was an offer they couldn't refuse". Much to Stalin's delight the Finns did refuse. So now Uncle Joe could show the world what the Red Army could do. The Russian bear attacked Finland assuming that after some fighting and a little objection from the free world, the Finns would roll over and play dead. Well, Finland showed what the Red Army could do; it could bleed, and profusely at that. Finland's heroic fight against its titanic neighbor was the center of the worlds attention in the winter of 1939. The British government was actually considering attacking the Soviet Union over the aggression. Imagine how different WWII could have been if that happened. All eyes were glued on plucky little Finland. In the end Russia won, of course, but the Red Army's dismal performance was one of the reasons that Hitler turned his rapacious eyes to the east.

 So now that we have some background information  we turn back to second lieutenant Häyhä. He was born on December 17, 1905. Unfortunately, he did not make it to one hundred years, dying on April 1, 2002 (if you weren't aware the Finns are a long lived race). He was conscripted into the Finnish Army in late 1925 and served fifteen months in different bicycle battalions. He then served a few weeks in the summer of 1938 and underwent sniper training. He was in Finland's civil Guard when his marksmanship came to his superiors' attention. He won numerous awards and championships with both a rifle and a machine gun. He was a hunter and trapper from childhood in Finland's vast forests. This he put to good use in the war. The Russians tried to kill him several times and even put a price on his head. Häyhä's luck ran out on March 6, 1940. He was hit in the face and head with an exploding bullet. The Winter War would have been over in just a few more days. He had to undergo twenty-six operations through his life due to the wound; the left side of his jaw was missing. He did go onto live a long and productive life as a farmer and continued his hunting for many years. 

 The book's author is a career officer in the Finnish Army. His expertise is in sniping and he has taught the skill for two decades to the new breed of Finnish warriors. The first part of the book is devoted to the life of Simo Häyhä, before and after the war. The second half goes into the secrets of Häyhä's success, his rifle, and using his techniques. The appendices are four in number and include a list of the top snipers in the world from 1939 to 2005.

 The book is what we have come to expect from Casemate. It is well made and is liberally supplied with photos, maps, and some diagrams.

 A question to the readers, what is a Molotov cocktail?


Book: The White Sniper Simo Häyhä
Publisher: Casemate Publishers
Review Date: 10/23/2016

                                                       Antiochus The Great by Michael Taylor  Antiochus Megas is remembered by histor...

Antiochus The Great by Michael Taylor Antiochus The Great by Michael Taylor

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Casemate Publishing

                                                       Antiochus The Great by Michael Taylor

 Antiochus Megas is remembered by history as the loser at Raphia to the Ptolemies, and at Magnesia to the Romans. his storied life has been overshadowed by these defeats. His anabasis to the east, which followed Alexander's foot steps and won back the majority of the Seleucid lands, is all but forgotten. Michael Taylor's biography brings Antiochus and his times to life again. Even Hannibal has a walk-on part in the tale of Antiochus

                               The rump of the Seleucid kingdom left to Antiochus III

 Antiochus III Megas inherited the Seleucid throne as a teenager, after his older brother Seleuces was killed by his own mutinous army. The Seleucid kingdom was a shadow of its former greatness. All that was left to Antiochus was a rump of a few states in nowadays Turkey, Iraq, and Syria. The kingdom under his great-great-grandfather Seleuces I ranged from Thrace in Greece to the borders of modern day Egypt and India. Being a second son, Antiochus was not groomed for the throne. It is true he was given some schooling in the ability to govern, but certainly not to the extent his older brother was. As a teenage king he was surrounded by armed foes on all sides of his small inheritance. It was plain at the start of his reign that his gifts as a warrior, general, and administrator put him into the highest echelon of Alexander's successors, along with Seleuces I and the greatest of them all, Antigonus. He fended off most of his rivals by his early twenties. It is true that he lost at Raphia to Ptolemy IV, but the peace treaty between them was still advantageous to Antiochus. After removing his cousin (the usurper Acheaus) from the field, his spear-won territory was at peace.

                          The extent of his kingdom in 191 B.C.

 It was then that he set his sights on the east, and the lands that had broken away from Seleucid rule. In a testament to his rule, no enemy or usurper attacked the kingdom while he was away for almost a decade in the east. Polybius speaks of his personal bravery and generalship. Unfortunately, Antiochus' early years coincide with the second Punic War between Carthage and Rome. If this had not occurred at that time we might have much more information about these years from ancient authors. Mr. Taylor does an excellent job of piecing together the various snippets we do have to make a coherent tale of his life.

 Antiochus returns from the east to finally conquer Palestine and its environs from the Ptolemies. He next returns most of Asia Minor back to the Seleucid fold. With his invasion of Europe and the capture of Thrace, he now is king of almost all of the lands Seleuces I left to his descendants. Unfortunately, Antiochus now involves himself with Grecian politics, which arouses the ire of Rome. After a long campaign he is defeated by Rome and forced to give up all of his territories in Europe and Asia Minor. Not too long after, he is killed in Elam while despoiling a native temple. He was, however, able to leave his son a much stronger kingdom than he himself had inherited. 

  The author goes into the Seleucid kingdom in detail. He shows us its history up until Antiochus III, and describes the army and naval forces. The Seleucid economy and its dealings with the other countries on its borders are also gone into.

 The battle of Magnesia was much closer than is usually depicted. Antiochus was able to crush the left wing of the Romans and allies, before losing on his own left flank. The battle also is the first in which large numbers of armored cavalry, cataphracts, were first used. Some ancient authors have them riding down a Roman legion during the battle.

 Michael Taylor's biography of this all but forgotten conqueror is a well done and needed work to shed the light of day on this era of the Hellenistic kingdoms. 


Book: Antiochus The Great 
Author Michael Taylor
Publisher: Pen & Sword
Distributor: Casemate Publishing
Date of Review: 9/15/2016

                                                           Team Yankee by Harold W. Coyle     The historical fiction genre is not...

Team Yankee by Harold W. Coyle Team Yankee by Harold W. Coyle

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Casemate Publishing

                                                           Team Yankee by Harold W. Coyle


 The historical fiction genre is not one that I am well versed in. I usually like my history dry and full of actual facts, and not filled in with extras. However, there are a few historical fiction books that have really had a grip on me, and that I still reread from time to time. Allan Eckert's series of books on the colonial era are one example. Another was a book released in 1985 and is called 'Team Yankee'. It is a fictionalized account of World War III through the eyes of U.S. tankers in Germany trying to stop the Soviet onslaught. This is a review of the revised and updated version just released by Casemate Publishing. The book uses the strategic scenario from Gen. Sir John Hackett's book 'The Third World War'. 'The Third World War'  is another excellent historical fiction book.

 I will start with one caveat: this is a review of the physical book. There seems to be a lot of problems with the Kindle release of the book and its transcribing. Amazon has been working on trying to correct the issue.

  In this book you will see the war through the eyes of Captain Sean Bannon, and what he and his team experience through the first two weeks of WWIII. Bannon is in charge of Team Yankee, which is a tank company attached to the 3d battalion of the 78th Infantry. 

  The book starts with a Soviet attack in Europe. It really doesn't go into the background at all, but it doesn't need to. This book is really about low level combat, not sweeping strategic plans and options. It even goes into the effect the Soviet attack has on the wives and families of the American troops stationed in Germany. It was written by an actual VMI graduate who attended staff college and served with the tanks in Germany in the 1970s. 

  Captain Bannon is faced with the Soviet and Warsaw Pact invasion of Germany that loomed over the US forces in West Germany for forty-five years. It is a tale of military muscle versus finesse. The Soviets would have a much larger force to use in their invasion, while Nato's available forces were much smaller. It shows (as do non-fiction books) that the US equipment and training was very advanced compared to the Soviet of the time. The different real wars around the world have always shown this when Nato and Soviet tanks, etc. have been matched up by other countries. The book provides maps of the different engagements to help the reader get his bearings on what is happening in the story.

  It is not only about warfare, but also shows the human side of war. The book shows the casualties, and sometimes the human frailties, that may not show up until put under a mountain of stress. You actually care about the characters and are proud of their exploits and saddened by their losses. The book has a few moments of seeing the war from the other side. You will not see many, but the book is really about the lives, battles, and sacrifices that the US company goes through.

  This book has been updated and re-released, with attention given to the historical plans and strategies that are now available to the author after the fall of the Soviet Union.

  Join me in reading about Captain Bannon and his troops' exploits during this 'what if' moment in time. Thankfully, most of us were completely unaware of how many times during this era that the ball  did almost fall. 

 The book is a product of the 1980s and shows it. It was a time that the people in the US started to have pride in the nation and the armed forces again. Therefore, the book might be a little 'gung ho' for some peoples' tastes. It is not meant to be a blueprint for history, but a plausible outcome for what might have been. In this the author succeeds wonderfully, and actually makes you care about Team Yankee and its soldiers.


Author: Harold W. Coyle
Publisher: Casemate
Date of Review: 9/1/2016


                                                                                   Sulla                                                  ...

Sulla: A Dictator Reconsidered by Lynda Telford Sulla: A Dictator Reconsidered  by Lynda Telford

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Casemate Publishing

                                      A Dictator Reconsidered

                                          By Lynda Telford 


 Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix; his self written epitaph reads "no friend ever served me, and no enemy ever wronged me, whom I have not repaid in full".

  The truth about Sulla's life and exploits has always been there to be seen. It took a brave person like Lynda Telford to put it all down in writing. Swimming against the stream is hard enough. Fighting your way through two thousand years of history is quite another adventure, although the author's membership in the Richard III society may have helped her prepare for this struggle.

 Sulla: the name exudes anathema to most historians. All stories have to have a villain, and to most he fits the bill admirably. But does he? A soldier and general of the highest caliber, he was a dictator of Rome, the first dictator in Rome's long history not to have a time limit on his authority. He killed, outlawed, and even murdered. So he must be the demon we have read about. As I said, every story needs a villain and a hero. History has chosen the hero in our play, Julius Caesar, a man who refused to bow down to Sulla's will and divorce his wife. Technically true, but there is more to the story. Only two men bearded the old lion that was Sulla. Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus and Caesar. Of the two, Pompey stayed in Rome, whilst Caesar ran to the edge of the Roman world after his slight tug on Sulla's mane.

  He was one of only eight Romans to win the coveted Grass Crown before it was sullied with Octavian's honorary one.

 To me, Lynda Telford's book is a milestone. It brings to life a principled man who should have had the acclaim of the Roman world in which he lived. Instead he was, and is, vilified for his choice of friends and lovers. He was principled, and he did have a reason for what he planned and carried out. He was a patriot who saw Rome falling from a republic to chaos in front of him. He was born just before the upheaval of the Gracchus brothers. The Gracchus brothers also had a plan, a good and true one. Their problem was that they were willing to flaunt all of Rome's laws to see it through. From their lives and deaths you see the fall of the Roman republic. Demagogues, money, and violence became the way of  politics in Rome. Sulla was trying to put an end to this, and to strengthen the senate, and return Rome to a land of its laws.

 The author has picked an incredible man for her work. She has also picked a huge fight with history. If Caesar is a hero, then Sulla must be a villain.

  Sulla is not only vilified for his actions, but also for his way of life. He is the only openly bisexual person in all of the famous men of Rome's historical record before the empire. I say openly because he himself stated that the male actor Metrobius was the love of his life. I think it is high time (as does the author) we look at his life without the blinders of previous centuries prejudices. 

 That I agree with the author's premise is very much a given. To me, Gaius Marius and Caesar were both heading Rome so that it might be ruled as a personal empire, naturally with them or their family as emperors. Sulla tried to put a stop to the violence and chaos of the last forty years. He wanted the republic back in all of its glory, and strong within its laws. The author shows Sulla warts and all. She does not make excuses for him, but tries to explain his actions. There are many people who disagree with her portrait. Caesar finally conquered in the end. His own plaudits of his career have been used to teach Latin for two thousand years. While Sulla, who became a dictator and then voluntarily gave up that power, is reviled instead of being praised as another Cincinnatus. Readers, please try and keep an open mind about the author's portrait of the life of the colossus that was Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix.

 The author brings his life and times to us in it's full panoply. I heartily recommend this book to anyone who has even the slightest interest in the history of the later Roman republic. Hopefully, she is hard at work on a biography of Pompey. In the meantime join me on every Ides of March, and raise a toast to Sulla and Pompey.


Book: Sulla: a Dictator Reconsidered
Publisher: Pen and Sword
Distributor: Casemate Publishing
Author: Lynda Telford
Review Date: 8/21/16