Ron Gretton, Geoff Matthews and James Kightly. Bristol Boxkites at Point Cook: Commemorating the Centenary of Australian Military Aviation 1914-2014. Werribee: Project 2014, 2014. In 1995 a group of volunteers decided to build a flying replica of the first Australian military aircraft, a Bristol Boxkite. It first flew late last year, and flew again at the Centenary of Military Aviation 2014 Air Show held at Point Cook just last week -- appropriately, since the centenary being marked is that of the first Australian military Boxkite flight, which took place at Point Cook in 1914. This is a handsome and well-illustrated volume covering the origins and history of the Boxkite, including that historic first flight, as well as the construction and first flight of the replica, now part of the RAAF Museum's collection. You can order a copy from the Boxkite 2014 website; I got one for free because James Kightly AKA JDK was part of the project, and asked me to do some research on how the first flights were reported in the Australian press.
Richard Lamb. The Drift to War: 1922-1939. London: Bloomsbury, 1991. A narrative history, based on some archival research, of British diplomacy with respect to the German problem (there are only two or three chapters on period before Hitler, so don't be misled by the 1922 in the subtitle). Unsurprisingly unfavourable to Chamberlain, from the looks of it. A freeby.
Antony Taylor. London's Burning: Pulp Fiction, the Politics of Terrorism, and the Destruction of the Capital in British Popular Culture, 1840-2005. London and New York: Continuum, 2005. A conference purchase, and an instant one for me after seeing the title. Oddly from my perspective, as far as I can tell it omits almost the entire corpus of knock-out blow fiction; but I think this is explained by the focus on stories about terrorism carried out by non-state actors. So aerial anarchists in fact do get some attention, and the Blitz of course factors as inspiration. But then, Hugh Addison's The Battle of London (1923) appears only as a red scare novel, which it certainly is; but the massive aerial bombardment which does the actual destruction is not mentioned. (Admittedly, it only gets a few sentences plus an illustration.) But that is just my perspective; there's plenty of value in this approach, which also enables the incorporation of fictional attacks by fascist and Islamic terrorists.
Peter Rees. Lancaster Men: The Aussie Heroes of Bomber Command. Crows Nest: Allen & Unwin, 2013. I must admit to hesitating over buying this, mainly because of the presence of the word 'heroes' in the title. But I understand that the author didn't have a say in the matter and is a bit embarrassed about it, so I relented. It's largely anecdotal in nature, being largely based on interviews and memoirs. Nothing wrong with that, but hopefully one of these days somebody will write a more analytic study of Australia and Bomber Command.
Joanna Bourke. Dismembering the Male: Men's Bodies, Britain, and the Great War. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996. A now-classic gender analysis of the impact of the First World War on masculinity -- mostly in social and cultural terms, but the first chapter is entitled 'Mutilating' so sometimes the impact is quite literal. Other topics include the change in male identities occasioned by the much more intense official and public interest in the male body, and the postwar sanitisation of all the death and suffering in the form of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (which seems natural enough to us now, but supposedly the bones of the dead at Waterloo were turned into fertiliser only a century earlier).
Peter J. Dean, ed. Australia 1943: The Liberation of New Guinea. Port Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 2014. Having read Australia 1942 (2012), I'm keen to find out what happened next. As the title indicates, the perspective is Australian, but there are also chapters on Japanese and American strategy alongside the analyses of the land campaigns in New Guinea. There are also chapters on the RAN and the RAAF in 1943, but this is where I have reservations. The one on the RAAF is by the same author who did the corresponding chapter in Australia 1942, a simple narrative of the aerial campaign, the battles and losses involved. There's nothing wrong with this in and of itself, but the rest of Australia 1942 is much more analytical and pays much more attention to the strategic, logistical, administrative (etc) contexts. The chapter on the RAN was up to this standard; the one on the RAAF was not. Australian airpower history often seems to miss out like this.
Robert and Barbara Donington. The Citizen Faces War. London: Victor Gollancz, 1936. While certainly very sympathetic to pacifism, conscientious objection and war resistance, in the face of the knock-out blow from the air the Doningtons end up plumping for an international air force by way of internationalised civil aviation (and maybe the air pact). Robert later became a respected academic musicologist and early music expert; not sure about Barbara.
Margot A. Henriksen. Dr Strangelove's America: Society and Culture in the Atomic Age. Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: University of California Press, 1997. Argues that the American countercultures of the 1960s were primarily a response to nuclear weapons. Sounds like a bit of a stretch, but as the book covers everything from atomic bomb shelters as well as youth rebellion, it should be fun.
Spencer R. Weart. Nuclear Fears: A History of Images. Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press, 1988. This has some overlap with the preceding book, but lacks the contentious hypothesis, covers most of the 20th century (and at least glances outside the United States) and tries to be comprehensive with respect to the various concepts about and responses to nuclear weapons in the public sphere (including death rays and UFOs). In some ways this is reminiscent of what I attempted to do in my PhD/book for the (conventional) bomber -- it would have been useful to have had this, say, eight years ago, especially as Weart provides an appendix on his methodology.
Joan Beaumont. Broken Nation: Australians in the Great War. Crows Nest: Allen & Unwin, 2013. With the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War looming, it's high time we had a book like this: a synoptic overview of the whole of Australia's war, from the fighting overseas to the conflicts at home, from why we got into the war to what we got out of it. Sadly, no mention of mystery aeroplanes that I can see.
Arthur Marder. From the Dreadnought to Scapa Flow. Volume 1: The Road to War 1904-1914. Barnsley: Seaforth Publishing, 2013 . The classic account of the Royal Navy and the naval arms race with Germany before 1914. Dated now, no doubt, but still influential and still a good source for a lot of boring but necessary facts. Four more volumes cover the actual war years, if you like that sort of thing.
Holger Afflerbach and David Stevenson, eds. An Improbable War? The Outbreak of World War I and European Political Culture before 1914. New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2007. Sometimes the origin of the First World War seems overdetermined, there are so many theories to account for it. Other times, it seems like, as in the title of this book, an improbable war. Eighteen chapters examine the question from the point of view of the arms races, public opinion, socialism, culture, the non-European powers, and so on.
Scott Anthony and Oliver Green. British Aviation Posters: Art, Design and Flight. Farnham and Burlington: Lund Humphries, 2012. Who doesn't like aviation posters? Chances are, if you're a reader of this blog, not you. This book draws upon the collection of British Airways, but is mostly concerned with its predecessors, Imperial, BOAC and BEA. While there are are occasional excursions into related topics, the content is narrower than the title might suggest: there's next to no military content at all, and not much from manufacturers or other parts of the civil aviation industry. Still, a beautiful book.
Martin van Creveld. Wargames: From Gladiators to Gigabytes. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. Van Creveld takes a narrow definition of 'war', excluding economic and political simulations (though he would presumably concede that these are essential parts of warfare at the grand strategic level), but a broad definition of games, including things like gladiatorial combat, medieval tournaments, and duels. He also takes a narrow view of women and their role in anything relating to war, and a broad view of relevance and sometimes logic ('Italy, the land where dueling had been invented, was a special case, part European, part African (as adherents of the Lombard League argue to this day)', 131 -- what does this even mean?) Still, it's potentially useful to look at the history of the subject beyond hexes and miniatures.
Colin Cruddas. 100 Years of Advertising in British Aviation. Stroud: History Press, 2008. Complements British Aviation Posters nicely, being much more interested in the companies outside the BA lineage, including aircraft and some component manufacturers, as well as military aviation. It focuses more on print advertising rather than posters, too. On the other hand, the text is more of a gloss than a sustained narrative, and the reproductions less generous (smaller, also less colourful, though that may be because the originals were monochrome), though still perfectly adequate for research purposes.
Robert S. Ehlers, Jr. Targeting the Third Reich: Air Intelligence and the Allied Bombing Campaigns. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2009. As is well known, early in the war Bomber Command thought it was doing reasonably well in terms of accuracy and effectiveness in bombing Germany, but was really not. But what of later in the war, and what of the Americans? This should have the answers.
Philip Sabin. Simulating War: Studying Conflict through Simulation Games. London and New York: Bloomsbury, 2012. Unlike van Creveld's book, Sabin's interest is squarely on wargames in the usual sense (though perhaps a slightly old-fashioned sense now, given that they are primarily intended to be played on tabletops rather than desktops). Also, it's not a history of wargaming, but an analysis of how wargames can be used to aid history students in understanding how wars are fought -- not only through playing them, but in designing them, as his own students do. As I'm entirely in sympathy with this idea and would to one day use wargames in my own teaching, I'm keen to read this. And maybe even play some of the eight games included with the book -- two of which are on air warfare, Big Week and Angels One Five.
Karl Baedeker. Great Britain: Handbook for Travellers. Old House, 2013 . As I said, I'm a sucker for facsimile editions, and this one has many nice foldout maps. As the cover doesn't fail to tell you, this is the version supposedly used by the Luftwaffe to plan the Baedeker raids. At any rate, if you were time-travelling back to 1937 Britain and could only take one book, you could take this, but really it would be a waste of luggage allowance because you could buy it when you got there.
Daniel Pick. War Machine: The Rationalisation of Slaughter in the Modern Age. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1993. One of those books I've seen referenced many times but never seen. Looks at the increasing appetite for destruction from the 19th century through to the First World War -- Clausewitz, 1870, the Channel Tunnel all get a look-in. May get a bit psychohistorical at times.
David Reynolds. The Long Shadow: The Great War and the Twentieth Century. London: Simon & Schuster, 2013. Did somebody say 'upcoming centenary of the First World War'? Probably, since the centenary of the the First World War is upcoming. Reynolds usually works on the Second World War period, but that probably makes him a good choice for this contribution to the literature, a reflection upon the effects of the war on the rest of the century, in terms of big themes like war and peace (obviously), democracy, empire and so on.
Bradshaw's International Air Guide. Oxford and New York: Old House, 2013 . I'm a sucker for facsimile reproductions like this. Bradshaw's are best known for their compilations of timetables for the Continental traveller, but beginning in 1934 they did the same for air routes. You also get airport information, hotel advertisements, standard air travel rules and regulations (you couldn't take arms on board, for example, unless they were for 'hunting or sporting' and 'packed in such a manner as to cause no danger to persons or things', 159), and a nice pull-out map showing the world's air routes (which clearly reveals the Anglocentric nature of Bradshaw's: it doesn't show any North American or Australian routes because they didn't connect with flights out of Europe).
Robin Holmes. The Battle of Heligoland Bight 1939: The Royal Air Force and the Luftwaffe's Baptism of Fire. London: Grub Street, 2009. The Battle of Heligoland Bight was a daylight raid on Wilhelmshaven on 18 December 1939 in which just over half the RAF force was lost, leading to the suspicion that the bomber might not always get through. This book focuses on the fortunes of one particular Wellington and its crew, but also takes in the wider story of the raid.
Richard Overy. The Bombing War: Europe 1939-1945. London: Allen Lane, 2013. This is a bit of a magnum opus. There are few people as well placed as Overy to write a deep summation of and reflection upon what we know now about strategic bombing in Europe in the Second World War (there's even a chapter on the Soviet experience), and by all accounts he has succeeded brilliantly. I've been waiting for this with some impatience and look forward to reading it (when I have a few weeks to spare -- with endnotes, it's just over 800 pages in length).
Picked up both of these at the Shrine of Remembrance, while visiting to see the new Bomber Command exhibition. Of which, more another day.
Don Charlwood. Journeys into Night. Warrandyte: Burgewood Books, 2013 . I discussed Charlwood's memoir of the war recently; this is a sort of collective memoir of the twenty men who formed his Empire Air Training Scheme class, three quarters of whom didn't survive the war. Charlwood himself made it, not only through the war, but until last year.
Bruce Scates with Alexandra McCosker, Keir Reeves, Rebecca Wheatley and Damien Williams. Anzac Journeys: Returning to the Battlefields of World War II. Port Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 2013. This is a history of the Australian memory of war, specifically in the form of pilgrimage to foreign battlefields, whether by veterans, family, or people without direct connections to war. Includes chapters on Bomber Command and Darwin.