Wednesday 5 August 2009

Cruise reading

In my recent blog entry about my cruise to the Baltic, I did not mention anything about the books that I read.

Now sea days can be boring, but I find them very relaxing. I write wargames rules – hence the latest version of WHEN EMPIRES CLASH! – and read. Usually my reading is either military history or crime novels set in the nineteenth century (especially anything by Boris Akunin!).

On my last cruise I read CHURCHILL’S WIZARDS – THE BRITISH GENIUS FOR DECEPTION 1914-1945 by Nicholas Rankin …


CHURCHILL’S WIZARDS explains how camouflage developed during World Wars I and II from simple visual ‘tricks’ that hid things from view into the field of confusion and distraction, culminating in the creation of the totally mythical FUSAG (First United States Army Group) that the Germans still believed was preparing to invade France via the Pas de Calais weeks after the Normandy invasion had taken place.

BRITAIN’S FORGOTTEN WARS is the paperback compilation of Ian Hernon’s three hardback books about Britain’s colonial wars of the nineteenth century. The book covers:

Part One – Massacre and Retribution
  • The First Kandy War, 1803 – 5
  • The Falklands, 1833
  • The Flafstaff War, 1845 – 6
  • The Jamaica Rebellion, 1865
  • The Arracan Expedition, Andaman Islands, 1867
  • The Magdala Campaign, 1867 – 8
  • The Modoc Indian War, 1872 – 3
  • The Riel Rebellion, 1885
  • The Ashanti War of the Golden Stool, 1900
Part Two – The Savage Empire
  • The Capture and Loss of Buenos Aires, 1806 – 7
  • The First Burma War, 1824 – 6
  • The Black War – Tasmania, 1824 – 30
  • The Opium War, 1839 – 42
  • The Persian War, 1856 – 7
  • The Arrow or Second China War, 1856 – 60
  • The Shortest War – Zanzibar, 1896
  • The Benin Massacre, 1897
  • The Tirah Campaign, 1897 – 8
Part Three – Blood in the Sand
  • The Gurkha War, 1814 – 16
  • The Defeat of the Borneo Pirates, 1840 – 9
  • The Storming of Madagascar, 1845
  • The First Sikh War, 1845 – 6
  • The Second Sikh War, 1848 – 9
  • Eureka Stockade, Australia, 1854
  • The Defence of Kars, Turkey, 1855
  • The Fenian Invasion of Canada, 1866
  • The Battle of Orange Walk, Belize, 1872
  • The Hut Tax War, Sierra Leone, 1898
For a colonial wargamer like myself this is a mine of information about some of the more obscure colonial wars Britain fought, and is one of my recommended ‘best reads’ for likeminded wargamers.


  1. Hi Bob, Am I right in thinking that the Colonial title is one of those 'cheapy' paperback titles one comes across from time to time? I am sure I have seen this in a couple of remaindered bookshops in the West End. I have read it but do not own a copy as yet although it will be on the wants list!

  2. Ogrefencer,

    I bought mine in the Bluewater branch of Waterstone's for full price, although it may well be 'remaindered' in some shops, especially if the book is in an overseas version (i.e. printed for the US market).

    As I already have two of the three volumes I will put it aside for you and you can have it when we next see each other.

    All the best,


  3. Many thanks Bob - although I suspect that the inspiration may prove a little too tempting!!!

  4. Ogrefencer,

    My pleasure ... and don't forget, thaT temptation itself isn't the problem; it is giving in to it that is the problem!

    All the best,



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