Sunday, 13 August 2017

Guest Review: Battlefield Britain by Peter and Dan Snow

Here's the next part in my guest review series covering history and sport!

For much of its long history, Britain has been bloodily ravaged by war and internal strife: foreign invasions have devastated British society, bitter battles have been fought over social and political rights, and brutal warlords have torn the country apart in their struggles for dominance. 

In Battlefield Britain , father and son team Peter and Dan Snow tell the story of eight decisive battles that have done much to shape the Britain we know today: Boudiccas revolt against Rome (AD 601); the Battle of Hastings (1066); the Battle for Wales (140010); the Spanish Armada (1588); the Battle of Naseby (1645); the Battle of the Boyne (1690); the Battle of Culloden (1746) and the Battle of Britain (1940). 

For the first time, ground-breaking computer graphics are used to recreate the ebb and flow of these famous battles in dramatic and vivid detail. Peter Snow, as well known for his strategic analysis as his swingometer, and Dan, a young military historian, combine their skills to form a unique writing team. In addition to explaining the battleplans of the great military commanders they also reveal what it was like to be an ordinary soldier on the front line, where the battle was at its fiercest. Spanning nearly two thousand years of British history, Battlefield Britain takes us into the heat of each battle as it unfolds to bring alive Britains turbulent past as never before.

Review: This book is an accompaniment to the BBC series of the same name, first shown in 2004, presented by the journalist and broadcaster Peter Snow and his historian son Dan Snow. It tells the stories of eight battles that occurred over the course of approximately two millennia in Great Britain and Ireland. It is not just land battles that are described, but also a battle at sea (Spanish Armada in 1588) and in the air (Battle of Britain in 1940). The eight battles described start from Boudicca's revolt against Roman occupation in AD 60-61 and end with the Battle of Britain.

Of necessity, the choice of the battles had to be selective and not everybody will agree with the selection. For example, although Owain Glyndwr's struggle for Welsh independence at the beginning of the 15th century is covered, the Scottish Wars of Independence, led by William Wallace and Robert the Bruce, a century earlier are not.

The television series used what, at the time, was the ground-breaking technology of computer generated graphics to illustrate the broad view and the ebb and flow of each battle. The book incorporates these images amongst its many illustrations.

Each chapter begins with the background circumstances to the battle and describes the various leaders, the weapons and the tactics involved, as well as giving a detailed account of the battle and its aftermath. The authors also describe their first hand experience of facing the conditions experienced by the troops and using some of the weapons, for example, being trained to use an 18th century musket in order to fire three shots in a minute.

Given the broad timespan covered and the necessity of choosing a limited selection of battles, I found the book to be a useful reference guide. I also felt that the layout of the book, with its use of illustrations and notes about the conditions and weapons, gave a sense of immediacy to the descriptions of the battles.

To order your copy now, click the link: UK or US

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