British Army Names Best Book of 2020
British Army Military Book of the Year 2020 Winners Announced
The British Army Military Book of the Year (#BAMBY) is the Army’s own annual literary prize. Each year, a shortlist of books is considered by ten judges from the Regular Army and Reserve.
Normally announced in October each year, this year’s BAMBY was delayed until December due to COVID-19.
The British Army announced Monday that the winner of the British Army Military Book of the Year 2020 (#BAMBY20) is Professor Anthony King for his book, Command: The Twenty First Century General.
The 2020 competition was the closest in years with only 3% of votes separating the top three books:
“… this book should be on the list of all serious students of our profession. For those who aspire to command as a general officer, it should be required reading.” William F. Mullen, III, War on the Rocks
A history of modern military command, from the individualist, heroic generals of the twentieth century to the highly-professionalised command teams of the twenty-first.
Anthony King is the chair of War Studies in the Politics and International Studies Department at Warwick University. His most recent publications include The Combat Soldier (2013) and, as editor, Frontline (2015).
He has acted as a mentor and adviser to the British Army and the Royal Marines for over a decade and worked as one of General Carter’s special advisers in the Prism Cell in Regional Command South, Kandahar, in 2009–10.
Alexander Watson is Professor of History at Goldsmiths, University of London, in the UK. He specialises in the history of the First World War, especially in Central Europe and on the Eastern Front. His books have won some prestigious prizes. Enduring the Great War won the Fraenkel Prize. Ring of Steel won the Wolfson History Prize, the Guggenheim Lehrman Prize in Military History, the British Army’s Book of the Year Award and the U.S. Society for Military History’s Distinguished Book Award. The book was named the ‘Sunday Times History Book of the Year’ for 2014.
Watson’s latest book, The Fortress: The Great Siege of Przemysl, tells the fascinating story of the First World War’s longest siege, and of the desperate struggle of a ragtag garrison of unfit, middle-aged Habsburg soldiers, drawn from right across the continent, to stop a Russian invasion of East-Central Europe. It reveals how the horrors which were to ravage this region in the twentieth century began already in 1914, with brutal fighting, strategies of starvation and vicious anti-Semitic ethnic-cleansing.
3rd – Dr Jonathan Fennell, Fighting the People’s War: The British and Commonwealth Armies in the Second World War
“[A] weighty, admirably uncomfortable account [by] an impressively diligent and thoughtful young historian … This is a fascinating and important book, which brings together a mass of information … never before assembled under one roof.” – Max Hastings, The Sunday Times
Fighting the People’s War is a mighty brick of a book, offering an unprecedented, panoramic history of the ‘citizen armies’ of the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand and South Africa, the core of the British and Commonwealth armies in the Second World War. Drawing on new sources to reveal the true wartime experience of the ordinary rank and file, Jonathan Fennell fundamentally challenges our understanding of the War and of the relationship between conflict and socio-political change. He uncovers how fractures on the home front had profound implications for the performance of the British and Commonwealth armies and he traces how soldiers’ political beliefs, many of which emerged as a consequence of their combat experience, proved instrumental to the socio-political changes of the postwar era. Fighting the People’s War transforms our understanding of how the great battles were won and lost as well as how the postwar societies were forged.
Jonathan Fennell was awarded a Doctorate from the University of Oxford in 2008 and is now a Senior Lecturer at the Defence Studies Department, King’s College London. Jonathan is a Director of the Sir Michel Howard Centre for the History of War and a Director and Co-Founder of the Second World War Research Group. His first book, Combat and Morale in the North African Campaign (Cambridge University Press, 2011) was shortlisted for the Royal Historical Society’s Whitfield Prize (for a first book written on British and Irish History). It was joint runner up for the Society for Army Historical Research’s Templer Medal (for the book published during that year that has made the most significant contribution to the history of the British Army) and it was selected as one of BBC History Magazine’s ‘Books of the Year’ 2011.
“This is a hugely impressive book which makes full use of a lifetime of learning and experience. It is also rich in unexpected detail . . . Such an entertaining and engaging account.” – The Herald
In Sand and Steel, one of Britain’s leading military historians draws on a decade of archival research and thousands of interviews to offer a panoramic new account of the Allied invasion of France.
Peter Caddick-Adams masterfully recreates what it was like to wade out onto the carnage of Omaha Beach, facing the machine-gun fire that wiped out whole battalions of troops. He delves into how the Allied generals came to choose Normandy in June 1944, and describes the extraordinary subterfuge that went into keeping the decision secret. And he recounts how the operation transformed the lives of Britons back home, transforming sleepy villages in the Home Counties into bustling military outposts.
Sand and Steel is an authoritative and compulsively readable exploration of the most important battle in history. It will be the definitive work on D-Day for years to come.
Peter Caddick–Adams was born in London in 1960 and educated at Shrewsbury School, Sandhurst and Wolverhampton University, where he gained First Class Honours in War Studies; he received his PhD from Cranfield University. He worked in the House of Commons, then taught at Oxford and Birmingham Universities before being appointed Lecturer in Military and Security Studies at the UK Defence Academy in 1998, and Lecturer in Air Power Studies at RAF Halton since 2012. Concurrently, he pursued a second career in the UK Regular and Reserve Forces, was commissioned in 1979 and joined the Reserves in 1985. He has extensive experience of various war zones, including the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan. During 1996–7 he was the official NATO Historian in Bosnia, based in Sarajevo, and was also the UK Historian during the Iraq War of 2003, based in Qatar and Iraq, and has written extensively on the campaigns he witnessed, including Afghanistan.
“An important book. Roger Moorhouse has a wonderful knack of reminding us about the parts of the Second World War that we are in danger of forgetting.” — Dan Snow
The Second World War began on 1 September 1939, when German tanks, trucks and infantry crossed the Polish border, and the Luftwaffe began bombing Poland’s cities. The Polish army fought bravely but could not withstand an attacker superior in numbers and technology; and when the Red Army invaded from the east – as agreed in the pact Hitler had concluded with Stalin – the country’s fate was sealed. Poland was the first to fight the German aggressor; it would be the first to suffer the full murderous force of Nazi persecution. By the end of the Second World War, one in five of its people had perished.
The Polish campaign is the forgotten story of the Second World War. Despite prefacing many of that conflict’s later horrors – the wanton targeting of civilians, indiscriminate bombing and ethnic cleansing – it is little understood, and most of what we think we know about it is Nazi propaganda, such as the myth of Polish cavalry charging German tanks with their lances. In truth, Polish forces put up a spirited defence, in the expectation that they would be assisted by their British and French allies. That assistance never came.
First to Fight is the first history of the Polish war for almost half a century. Drawing on letters, memoirs and diaries by generals and politicians, soldiers and civilians from all sides, Roger Moorhouse’s dramatic account of the military events is entwined with a tragic human story of courage and suffering, and a dark tale of diplomatic betrayal.
“One of the most profound books I have ever read about the real nature of war and the abstract allure of the ideas and the bloodshed that fuels it.” — Jon Lee Anderson
An astonishing account of the nature of war from acclaimed novelist and decorated former US marine Elliot Ackerman.
In a refugee camp in southern Turkey, Elliot Ackerman sits across the table from Abu Hassar, who fought for Al Qaeda in Iraq and has murky connections to the Islamic State. At first, Ackerman pretends to have been a journalist during the Iraq War, but after he establishes a rapport with Abu Hassar, he reveals that in fact he was a Marine. The two men then compare their fighting experiences in the Middle East, discovering they had shadowed each other for some time: a realisation that brings them to a strange kind of intimacy.
Elliot Ackerman’s extraordinary memoir explores the events that led him to come to this refugee camp and what, unable to forget his time in battle, he hoped to find there. Moving between his recent time on the ground as a journalist in Syria and his Marine deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, he creates a work of astonishing atmospheric pressure, one which blends the American experience with the perspectives and stories of the Arab world, and draws a line between them.
At once an intensely personal book about the terrible lure of combat and a brilliant meditation on the meaning of the past two decades of strife for the region and the world, Places and Names bids to take its place among our greatest books about modern war.
“The Internet will never be the same after you read Surveillance Valley. Yasha Levine has done a masterful job of research and reporting about the military origins of the ‘world wide web’ and how its essential nature has not changed in the years since its creation during the Cold War. I especially applaud his courage in unraveling the connections between the so-called ‘deep state’ and its economic allies in Silicon Valley with the big guns of the ‘privacy’ movement, who have scoffed at virtually every attempt at making their operations transparent to the public.”–Tim Shorrock, author of Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing
The internet is the most effective weapon the government has ever built. In this fascinating book, investigative reporter Yasha Levine uncovers the secret origins of the internet, tracing it back to a Pentagon counterinsurgency surveillance project. A visionary intelligence officer, William Godel, realized that the key to winning the war in Vietnam was not outgunning the enemy, but using new information technology to understand their motives and anticipate their movements. This idea — using computers to spy on people and groups perceived as a threat, both at home and abroad — drove ARPA to develop the internet in the 1960s, and continues to be at the heart of the modern internet we all know and use today. As Levine shows, surveillance wasn’t something that suddenly appeared on the internet; it was woven into the fabric of the technology. But this isn’t just a story about the NSA or other domestic programs run by the government. As the book spins forward in time, Levine examines the private surveillance business that powers tech-industry giants like Google, Facebook, and Amazon, revealing how these companies spy on their users for profit, all while doing double duty as military and intelligence contractors. Levine shows that the military and Silicon Valley are effectively inseparable: a military-digital complex that permeates everything connected to the internet, even coopting and weaponizing the antigovernment privacy movement that sprang up in the wake of Edward Snowden. With deep research, skilled storytelling, and provocative arguments, Surveillance Valley will change the way you think about the news — and the device on which you read it.
Yasha Levine is an investigative journalist and author. Born in Leningrad, he grew up in San Francisco and now lives in New York.
The prize-giving will take place in the New Year, with the British Army also announcing the long-list of books for the British Army Military Book of the Year 2021 (#BAMBY21).
Also consider this book from one of the defining characters of modern military history, Jim Mattis. Also published in 2019, Call Sign Chaos has scored 4.7/5 on Amazon with almost 3,500 ratings:
“Combining simplicity and thoughtfulness, Jim Mattis has produced a classic account of a lifetime of service. Call Sign Chaos is a lesson in leadership and an evocation of humanity in the cause of peace.”–Henry Kissinger
“In this magnificent memoir, Jim Mattis details many important events in his career, but he also does much more: He explains how he is informed by his experiences in a way that teaches you how to learn from your own. Read, enjoy, and learn.” –George Shultz
Jim Mattis served more than four decades as a US Marine infantry officer. Following two years as the Secretary of Defense, he returned to the Northwest and is now the Davies Family Distinguished Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. Co-author Bing West has written ten books about combat. He served as a US Marine in Vietnam and later as an assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration. He has been on hundreds of patrols in Iraq and Afghanistan, including many operations with General Mattis. He is a member of the Military History Working Group at the Hoover Institution.
Jim Matthews, Fighting Monsters: From British Armed Forces to Rebel Fighter, A First-Hand Account of Battling ISIS
Warfare.Today’s pick for book of the year is Fighting Monsters by Jim Mattews. Former British soldier Jim Matthews hit the headlines when he was arrested on terrorism charges – for fighting against ISIS. The charges were eventually dropped, but he continues to be a person of interest.
Jim gave up a lucrative career teaching English in Saudi Arabia, and headed to Northern Syria to fight ISIS. But why, after years as a left-leaning, anti-war protestor, did he find himself pulled once more into a conflict zone? Did he miss war?
What is the reality for those fighting ISIS in their own country, and for those like Jim who join that fight? This book attempts to explain, in his words, what it’s like there…
An intelligent and evocative memoir, Fighting Monsters explores the reasons for one man’s war, while bringing to life the twisted roads, broken border towns and dusty battlefields of Syria and Iraq.