May 26, 2011

AWI Bookshelf

Like most wargamers, I collect books. Between military histories, uniform books, historical fiction, and wargame rules sets, I have several hundred volumes from the Dark Ages to WW2. My family often buys me military books as gifts and one of my wife's cousins is the best - she is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the United Daughters of the Confederacy and her gifts always come from the American conflicts. On of my first steps on entering a new period is collecting a pile of books. When I made the decision to launch my AWI project I was actually surprised at how many books I already owned...

British Grenadier - David Brown - Nice rule set, but the real value is in the period information, both in the rule book and the three scenario books. There is a wealth of information for the newcomer, including organizing your forces, suggestions on uniforms, There is also a fairly active forum dedicated to these rules. The second edition is due out soon, though sadly it looks to join the terrible trend of the times: wargame porn with beautiful full color printing, lavish illustrations, photos of well painted models, and a massive four page quick reference sheet...

Of course, I am kidding - I ordered mine yesterday...

The American War of Independence - Greg Novak - This is a guide to the armies of the war and comes in a two volume set - one covering the North, the other the South - that provide orbats for almost every known action bigger than a bar-brawl. There is an insane amount of detail that goes through the armies from year to year. I can't recommend these highly enough!

Soldiers of the American Revolution - Art by Don Troiani and Text by James L. Kochan - This book features one of the best military artists around. There are more than 50 of Troiani's paintings in this book, including some great single figure studies that will be inspiring for model painters. In addition there are photos of period artifacts such as clothing, weapons, and equipment.

Standards and Colors of the American Revolution - Edward W. Richardson - This is the most complete source for flags of the American Revolution that I have seen. The The book covers both Colonial flags by state and national banners, plus those of the British, German, and French with photos, drawings, and color plates. It is currently out of print, but you can still find used copies on Amazon.

Soldiers of the Revolutionary War - Stuart Reid and Marko Zlatich - This is a reprint of five volumes of the Osprey titles: Men-at-Arms 273: ‘General Washington’s Army (1) 1775-75’, Men-at-Arms 285: ‘King George’s Army 1740-93 (1)’, Men-at-Arms 289: ‘King George’s Army 1740-93 (2)’, Men-at-Arms 290: ‘General Washington’s Army (2) 1778-83’ and Men-at-arms 292: ‘King George’s Army 1740-93 (3)’. This book examines in complete detail the uniforms and equipment used by the rival armies of George Washington and King George in the American Revolutionary War. Despite sometimes having inaccurate information, Osprey is always one of my first stops when getting into a new period.

Patriot Battles - Michael Stephenson - The result is a well-documented, entertaining and mildly revisionist military history in two parts. In the first, Stephenson examines "The Nuts and Bolts of War," answering basic questions about who fought, how and why. To analyze prosaic details like supply and transport, weapons and medical care, the author uses an array of statistics and technical data—muzzle velocities, shot weights, equipment lists, etc.—but wisely leavens them with anecdotes. In part two, Stephenson turns to an analysis of the major battles of the war, from the opening skirmishes at Lexington and Concord to the climactic showdown at Yorktown.

A Guide to the Battles of the American Revolution - Theodore Savas and J. David Dameron - This is billed as the first comprehensive account of every engagement of the Revolution, a war that began with a brief skirmish at Lexington Green on April 19, 1775, and concluded on the battlefield at the Siege of Yorktown in October 1781. Every entry begins with introductory details including the date of the battle, its location, commanders, opposing forces, terrain, weather, and time of day. The body of each entry offers both a Colonial and British perspective of the military situation, a detailed and unbiased account of what actually transpired, a discussion of numbers and losses, and suggestions for further reading.

A Devil of a Whipping - Lawrence E. Babits - The battle of Cowpens was a crucial turning point in the Revolutionary War in the South and stands as perhaps the finest American tactical demonstration of the entire war. On 17 January 1781, Daniel Morgan's force of Continental troops and militia routed British regulars and Loyalists under the command of Banastre Tarleton. The victory at Cowpens helped put the British army on the road to the Yorktown surrender and, ultimately, cleared the way for American independence. This was a gift from my wife's cousin five or six years ago and is the book that sparked my interest in collecting models for the period...

Battles of the American Revolution - Curt Johnson - There are better books about these battles on the market today, but this book is full of color photos of fantastic Hinchliffe Models from the collection of Peter Gilder. There are also sections on weapons, unit organization, and tactics of the period. This book is out of print,but you can still find used copies on Amazon.

Skirmish Battles - David O'Brien -This 40 page booklet contains seven great scenarios. Each are presented with historical backgrounds, notes on wargaming the scenario, troop grades and orders of battle, victory conditions, command decisions, and charming hand drawn maps. Also, while it's called 'skirmish battles', this refers to history rather than the tabletop - theses are not western style gunslinger games. While there are one or two scenarios that might be possible at 1:1, a scale of 1:5 or 1:10 will be more practical in 28mm. For instance, the Blackstock Plantation scenario pits 660 British (led by Tarleton!) against 1000 American Militia... Anyway, this would be a nice addition to a collection if you don't have it (and maybe the one book on this list you may not have seen before)...

Whew! There are more in my collection and I have a few more in the mail, but these are the best I have. Of course, the internet is another great resource and I'll have a post with links to my favorite AWI websites soon...


  1. Nice review, thanks for that. Shockingly, there are one or two I don't own yet.


  2. Good stuff, thanks. I've only seen unfavourable reviews of both Stephenson and Savas - so it's interesting to see an opposing view. My copies of Novak came from FreiKorps - A5, card covers, but (as far as i know) the same data, and much cheaper - out of print but not difficult to find.

    If you haven't considered Patrick O'Kelley's 'Nothing but Blood and Slaughter' series on the southern campaigns then you really should - they are the 'mother lode', absolutely essential.

    Incidentally that Curt Johnson book has been an inspiration for the last 30 years, and i purchased some of that Gilder collection a few years ago (one day i'll get round to putting them on my blog).

    Good luck with your AWI project.

  3. British Grenadier is a fantastic rule set. Thoroughly enjoy it. And I, like you, was impressed by the amount of history and information in the book.


  4. Already have all the British Grenadier stuff except the Delux which is on my list, and both the Troiani and Babits, but need to pick up the other titles you mentioned. Thanks for the info.:-)


  5. That's a very useful and informative list. Thanks for posting.


  6. Please note as far as reviews go that I am fairly new to the period and shouldn't be necessarily seen as an opposing view, though I did thoroughly enjoy the 'Patriot Battles' book. I'll look up the O'Kelly books as I haven't seen those!

  7. Great list. A couple books on the subject that I've really enjoyed over the last couple years are:

    'Fusiliers" by Urban
    "Almost a Miracle" by Ferling