MHM Book of the Year 2023: Shortlist

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Military History Matters has curated a list of 2022’s best military history titles: the nominees for this year’s MHM Book Awards. Our selection includes some of the best-researched, most-insightful, and most-readable titles reviewed and featured in the magazine over the last year. But we need your help to select the winners!

Gold, silver, and bronze prizes are up for grabs in the race for MHM Book of the Year, which will be awarded to the title our readers feel has made the greatest all-round contribution to the study of military history.

Read the reviews of all 12 titles below.

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The MHM Book Awards are sponsored by The Cultural Experience, a leader in the provision of expert-led, world-wide historical tours on a myriad of themes from antiquity to modern, but especially military history.

Meticulously researched holidays are led by many of the world’s most renowned historians, during which clients enjoy excellent hotels, cuisine, and the company of like-minded travellers. To find out more about what The Cultural Experience has to offer please visit their website.

Blood and Ruins: the great imperial war, 1931-1945

Richard Overy
Allen Lane

Blood and Ruins is a magisterial attempt to place the Second World War in a new century-long context of empire-building and imperial collapse. It is full of insights from Richard Overy, a distinguished historian who has spent decades studying the war. Although readers may not get through this vast tome in one go, it should be in the bookcase of every serious student of the war.

Click here to read the full review.

Armour of the English Knight, 1450-1500

Tobias Capwell
Thomas Del Mar Ltd

The English armourers of the 15th century were great craftsmen, artists, and innovators. That is the essential conclusion of Tobias Capwell’s monumental study of the armour of the English knight in this period. On reading his book, it takes only a little imagination to be transported into the maelstrom of close-quarters killing at Towton, Barnet, or Bosworth.

Click here to read the full review.

The Searchers: the quest for the lost of the First World War

Robert Sackville-West

One of the most tragic consequences of the First World War was the idea and the reality of ‘the missing’. All earlier wars had victims of which no trace was ever found, but the world’s first global industrialised conflict created millions of them. This engaging book brings together a host of issues concerning the missing, and opens the door to a more detailed understanding of human loss in war.

Click here to read the full review.

The New Model Army: agent of revolution

Ian Gentles
Yale University Press

Created in 1645, the New Model Army was a truly formidable fighting force: crushing Royalist resistance across Britain and bringing about the execution of Charles I. Yet the purpose of this book is not to provide yet another military history of the wars, but to consider why the New Model Army was so formidable on the battlefield, and why it had such an impact on politics and religion of it.

Click here to read the full review.

Russia: revolution and civil war 1917-1921

Antony Beevor
Weidenfeld & Nicolson

This new and timely book by prolific historian Antony Beevor explores the course of the Russian Revolution and the subsequent Civil War. Informed by current scholarship, archival research, and a firm grip on the interlinkages between a broad catalogue of characters, it is truly military history at scale, in terms of political complexity, geographic scope, and human cost.

Click here to read the full review.

Resistance: the underground war in Europe, 1939-45

Halik Kochanski
Allen Lane

In this detailed study of resistance across Europe during the Second World War, Halik Kochanski takes readers from its tentative beginnings in 1939 to the large-scale partisan warfare of 1944-1945, exploring how resistance differed from country to country, partly due to varying ethnic and historical rivalries. Kochanski’s book deserves to become a standard reference on the subject.

Click here to read the full review.

The Restless Republic: Britain without a crown

Anna Keay
William Collins

In The Restless Republic, Anna Keay tells the story of the brief British republic of 1649-1660 through the lives and experiences of a number of contemporary figures, some at the centre of events, such as Charles I and Cromwell, and others on the peripheries. In so doing, she provides a perspective that is markedly enlightening. It is a scholarly work, but at the same time extremely readable.

Click here to read the full review.

The Lighthouse of Stalingrad: the hidden truth at the centre of WWII’s greatest battle

Iain MacGregor
Little, Brown

After a young Soviet sergeant called Yakov Pavlov led the capture of an apartment block in the heart of Stalingrad in late 1942, myths soon proliferated around what became a vital Russian stronghold. With new archive material, Iain MacGregor takes a critical look at the history of ‘Pavlov’s lighthouse’ and of the wider battle in this superb account.

Click here to read the full review.

Armada: the Spanish Enterprise and England’s Deliverance in 1588

Colin Martin and Geoffrey Parker
Yale University Press

The Spanish Armada set sail from Lisbon on 28 May 1588, tasked with eliminating the Protestant Queen Elizabeth and restoring Catholic worship throughout England. It was said to be ‘the greatest and strongest combination that was ever gathered in all Christendom’. And yet the Armada’s story was one of almost constant misfortune. Colin Martin and Geoffrey Parker’s major new history explains what really happened.

Click here to read the extract.

Conquer We Must: a military history of Britain 1914-1945

Robin Prior
Yale University Press

Strategic history may seem dry to some, but with Conquer We Must, Robin Prior has broken new ground. Not only has he tackled a huge subject in an engaging way, but his extensive footnotes, mapping, photographs, and bibliography make for an important contribution to our knowledge of Britain’s history in the first half of the last century.

Click here to read the full review.

Dünkirchen 1940: the German view of Dunkirk

Robert Kershaw

The ‘miracle of Dunkirk’ is lauded in British history, celebrated each year with a profusion of TV documentaries and memorial services. But Robert Kershaw argues that the lack of a German perspective means we have only a partial understanding of the famous moment of deliverance. In this riveting book, he explains what new research tells us about a battle that changed the tide of the Second World War.

Click here to read the extract.

Iron and Blood: a military history of the German-speaking peoples since 1500

Peter H Wilson
Allen Lane

Peter Wilson’s Iron and Blood is not restricted to ‘modern’ Germany but extends to cover more than 500 years of the history of the surrounding region. There is a wide range of information from right across the period, from Emperor Charles V’s exploits to the problems faced by the newly united Germany in 1990. Heafty, but a rewarding read.

Click here to read the full review.

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