The Making of the British Army.

By Allan Mallinson

Printed: 2009

Publisher: Bantam Press. London

Edition: First edition

Dimensions 16 × 24 × 5 cm

Language: English

Size (cminches): 16 x 24 x 5

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In the original dustsheet. Black cloth binding with gilt title on the spine.

  • F.B.A. provides an in-depth photographic presentation of this item to stimulate your feeling and touch. More traditional book descriptions are immediately available.

Edgehill, 1642: Surveying the disastrous scene in the aftermath of the first battle of the English Civil War, Oliver Cromwell realizes that war can no longer be made in the old, feudal way: there has to be system and discipline, and therefore – eventually – a standing professional army.

From the ‘New Model Army’ of Cromwell’s distant vision, former soldier Allan Mallinson shows us the people and events that have shaped the army we know today. How Marlborough’s momentous victory at Blenheim is linked to Wellington’s at Waterloo; how the desperate fight at Rorke’s Drift in 1879 underpinned the heroism of the airborne forces at Arnhem in 1944; and why Montgomery’s momentous victory at El Alamein mattered long after the Second World War was over.

From the Army’s origins at the battle of Edgehill to our current conflict in Afghanistan, this is history at its most relevant – and most dramatic.

Review: Can this be the same author who frequently tests the stamina of those of us who constantly hope that his fictional hero will take fire? This book is eminently readable. It is not an in-depth study of the history of the army, it is a series of episodes, if you like, covering mostly major events in its development. The writing tends to look on the bright side although some of the armies ‘failures’ are mentioned. In the main the quality of the British squaddy tends to shine through though recent events (Sept 2011) may have tarnished the (public) image slightly. One of the events where we did less than well (but better than most American authors would have it) was the war of 1812 and this is brushed aside with hardly a mention. A small affair in the scheme of things but deserves better in my opinion.

I am not sufficiently well informed to comment on Brig. Mallinson’s conclusions but will accept them until someone tells me different, though sometimes I catch myself thinking ‘really?’, this can’t be a bad thing if it makes you think.

I believe this book will appeal to a variety of readers. To the casually interested to whom the ‘further reading’ might tempt to further reading; to the interested in need of a refresher course and to the ‘buff’ to possibly provoke some new lines of thought.

My reviews of the author’s novels have tended to the negative, I still read them though. I am happy to go positive with this one!

A professional solder for thirty-five years, Allan Mallinson began writing while still serving.

His first book was a history of four regiments of British light dragoons, one of which he commanded. His debut novel was the bestselling A Close Run Thing, the first in an acclaimed series chronicling the life of a fictitious cavalry officer before and after Waterloo (The Tigress of Mysore is the fourteenth in the series). His The Making of the British Army was shortlisted for a number of prizes, while 1914: Fight the Good Fight won the British Army’s ‘Book of the Year’ Award. Its sequel, Too Important for the Generals, is a provocative look at leadership during the Great War, while Fight to the Finish is a comprehensive history of the First World War, month by month.

Allan Mallinson reviews for the Spectator and the TLS and also writes for The Times. He lives on Salisbury Plain.

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