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River Gunboats – An Illustrated Encyclopaedia

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£32.00
RRP: £40.00
River Gunboats – An Illustrated Encyclopaedia by Roger Branfill-Cook.

The first recorded engagement by a steam-powered warship took place on a river, when in 1824 the Honourable East India Company’s gunboat Diana went into action on the Irrawaddy in Burma. In the 150 years that followed river gunboats played a significant part in over forty campaigns and individual actions, down to the Portuguese and American ‘Brown Water’ fighting in Africa and Vietnam respectively at the end of the twentieth century. They proved to be the decisive factor in operations against the Maoris, with Gordon’s Ever Victorious Army in China, during the river campaigns of the American Civil War, in the French conquest of Indochina, during Kitchener’s advance on Khartoum, and on the Rufiji and Tigris during the Great War. River gunboats fought for the Paris Commune, on the rivers of South America, against the Bolsheviks, and during the Second World War in the open waters of the Mediterranean, while armoured Soviet gunboats fought German Panzers, and a pair of ‘Girls’ attacked the Japanese on the banks of the Irrawaddy.

This lavishly illustrated encyclopaedia describes vessels of every nation designed as river gunboats, plus those converted river steamers which took part in combat. Maps of the river systems where they operated are included, together with narratives of the principal actions involving river gunboats. Their story is brought up-to-date with data on current riverine combat vessels in service today.

Cold War Spymaster – The Legacy of Guy Liddell, Deputy Director of MI5

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£20.00
RRP: £25.00
Cold War Spymaster – The Legacy of Guy Liddell, Deputy Director of MI5 by Nigel West.

Guy Liddell was the Director of MI5’s counter-espionage B Division throughout the Second World War, during which he wrote a confidential personal diary. Within its pages details of virtually every important event that had any intelligence significance during the conflict were recorded.

Those recently declassified diaries, which were edited by Nigel West, have been followed by a post-war series which cover the period from the German surrender until Liddell’s sudden resignation in May 1953. These eight years of the early Cold War contain many disturbing secrets, such as the cache of incriminating Nazi documents which was supposed to be destroyed by the SS. When these were recovered intact the British government went to considerable lengths to keep their contents from being disclosed, for they provided proof of the Duke of Windsor’s contact, through a Portuguese intermediary, with the enemy during the crucial period in 1940 when the ex-king declared himself ready to fly back from the Bahamas and be restored to the throne. One of Liddell’s first tasks, at the request of Buckingham Palace, was to retrieve and suppress the damaging material.

Liddell’s diaries were never intended for publication and are therefore filled with indiscretions that shed new light on MI5 investigations that he supervised after his promotion to Deputy Director-General.

Many in Whitehall anticipated that Liddell would become Director-General but, as these pages reveal, he had employed Anthony Blunt as his trusted personal assistant, had found it hard to accept the evidence of Kim Philby’s treachery, and had maintained an unwise friendship with Guy Burgess. Nevertheless, despite Liddell’s manifest failings, and his reluctance to believe in the disloyalty of men he regarded as friends, he was probably the single most influential British intelligence officer of his era.

Air War Northern Ireland

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£15.99
RRP: £19.99
Air War Northern Ireland – Britain’s Air Arms and the ‘Bandit Country’ of South Armagh, Operation Banner 1969-2007 by Steven Taylor.

Famously dubbed ‘Bandit Country’ by a UK government minister in 1975, South Armagh was considered the most dangerous part of Northern Ireland for the British Army and Royal Ulster Constabulary during the years of violence known as the ‘Troubles’ that engulfed the province in the last three decades of the twentieth century.

This was also true for the helicopter crews of the RAF, Royal Navy and Army Air Corps who served there. Throughout the ‘Troubles’ the Provisional IRA’s feared South Armagh brigade waged a relentless campaign against military aircraft operating in the region, where the threat posed by roadside bombs made the security forces highly dependent on helicopters to conduct day-to-day operations.

From pot-shot attacks with Second World War-era rifles in the early days of the conflict to large scale, highly co-ordinated ambushes by PIRA active service units equipped with heavy machine guns, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and even shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), the threat to British air operations by the late 1980s led to the arming of helicopters operating in the border regions of Northern Ireland.

Drawing on a wide range of sources, including official records and the accounts of aircrew, this book tells the little-known story of the battle for control of the skies over Northern Ireland’s ‘Bandit Country’.

Return to Isle of Man Transport

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£24.00
RRP: £30.00
Return to Isle of Man Transport – Manx Electric, Snaefell & the Buses and Trams of Douglas Corporation by Martin Jenkins and Charles Roberts.

This is the second book by Martin Jenkins and Charles Roberts about transport in the Isle of Man.

The first volume – described in Classic Bus as a “splendid book [which] takes you on a wonderfully nostalgic journey all round the island in lovely photographs” and by one Amazon reviewer as “a captivating book of beautiful and well-reproduced colour photos” – covered the steam railway, shipping and Road Services buses.

This book, using many previously unpublished rare early colour pictures, completes the coverage by looking at the Manx Electric and Snaefell Mountain Railways, as well as the buses and horse trams of Douglas Corporation.

The authors have managed to collect together some truly interesting and often stunning pictures, from a period when colour coverage of transport subjects was almost non-existent.

Further reading: Isle of Man Transport – A Colour Journey in Time

Napoleon Victorious – An Alternative History of the Battle of Waterloo

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£15.99
RRP: £19.99
Napoleon Victorious – An Alternative History of the Battle of Waterloo by Peter Tsouras.

It is June 1815 and an Anglo-led Allied army under the Duke of Wellington’s command and Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher is set to face Napoleon Bonaparte near Waterloo in present-day Belgium.

What happens next is well known to any student of history: the two armies of the Seventh Coalition defeated Bonaparte in a battle that resulted in the end of his reign and of the First French Empire.

But the outcome could have been very different, as Peter Tsouras demonstrates in this thought-provoking and highly readable alternate history of the fateful battle.

By introducing minor – but realistic – adjustments, Tsouras presents a scenario in which the course of the battle runs quite differently, which in turn sets in motion new and unexpected possibilities. Cleverly conceived and expertly executed, this is alternate history at its best.