A Helion Hit?

I have, on a few earlier occasions, had a go at Helion/Casemate due to the poor quality of their publications both in terms of proof reading and in terms of sub-editing. It has got me to the point where, even if a title sounds attractive, I'm a bit loathe to spend my hard earned cash on one of their publications, without a recommendation from a really reliable source.



When I was last looking at the Jacobite risings seriously I collected a few books on the subject, several of which were written by Stuart Reid. My view on warfare in the 17th/18th century and Scotland is that you can't really go wrong with Reid. I find him knowledgeable and reliable, and covers the things I want to know as a wargamer. It was back before COVID, at Partizan, I think, when Steven Ede-Borrett of the Pike & Shot Society recommended Jonathan Oates' book on the subject of the '15, and suggesting that he had rendered Reid's "Sheriffmuir 1715" obsolete. I harrumphed a bit, but thanked him for his thoughts.

What happened next I'm not sure. I don't recall buying the book, and then recently, when I decided to revisit the period, I ordered a copy as I found one discounted and the reviews did look good. When it arrived, I went to put it on the bookshelf, and discovered I already had a pristine, unread copy. B*gg*r*d if I know when I bought it. Any how, I thought, I'd better read it, especially as I now had two copies.

A few pages in and my suspicions that I had not read it were confirmed. Either that, or I've had a brain wipe or I'm really losing it. Also, it was becoming clear to me, quite quickly, that Steve had been right.

This is a proper good, well written, authentic history book. Not a book written by an enthusiast for the subject, but a book written by a trained historian who knows how to use sources, and use them well. It's a book that is thorough and packed with information and analysis. It isn't a lightweight read. There's a lot going on and the type face isn't the largest, but even without that it isn't a book you'd read from cover to cover in a single sitting. It's a book you have to think about and consider as you go along. It's awesome, and it breaks new ground.

In short, if you have an interest in this period you need to own a copy of this book, so thankyou Helion for making it available. 

But is it a typical Helion book? Is it wrecked by an absence of proofing or editing? Luckily it isn't. There are more typos than there should be (come on, "rank flank" for "right flank" for goodness sake), and there are quotations from historical documents that may have typos or may not (in summary, I would not quote from one of the source quotations, as I'm not sure if the words used are archaic or just mistyped), but it isn't like Warwick Louth's book which is rendered nearly unusable and incomprehensible by sloppy proof reading.

My only real compliant is the absence of a map of Scotland showing the campaign manoeuvring. There are several good maps of the battlefield, but a decent campaign map is sort of an essential on a book covering a military campaign but, hey, you know what, I'll forgive him that, because otherwise it's a cracking book.

To my mind this is the sort of book wargamers and people interested in military history need. It's a book written by a historian that cares about military history. As I said it's proper history book, the likes of which we should have more, if military history wasn't the career killer some academics think.

So buy this book. Then you'll be ready when my early 18th Century rules are published.

 

Comments

  1. Thanks for the review! I know little of the period so this may provide a useful primer for you rules. Besides, this offers up a chance to compare the actual battle to the tabletop battle we fought.

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    1. Ha ha! The book has a different set up to Reid's for the battle, so you'll end up being even more confused.

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  2. Thanks for the 'review' and I've added it to my list of books to buy, once I've waded through the pile of unread books that sits beside me... ;)

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    1. I'd keep your eye out on the price. It was originally £20, and I got it for just over £10 second time round.

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  3. Helion are a mixed bag. I have bought a couple where the author has obviously done a lot of research but then wants to share it all at the expense of in depth conclusions.

    Others like the Bosworth book and the one on Tudor rebellions are pretty good.

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    1. Yes. The name of the imprint is no guarantee of quality. The Bosworth book is excellent, as you say. I shall have to look out for the Tudor Rebellions one.

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  4. Two copies syndrome! It happened to me with one of Brent Nosworthy's books. I've got a copy of the Oates book too and I think it is fine.

    I don't think Reid ever really got what Highlanders did or how their society worked. Not to say that his books cannot be useful. It's just that he has a seeming blind spot when dealing with Highlanders.

    Speaking of Helion their recent Monmouth effort is remarkably poor. I'll check out the Tudor Rebellions one too.

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    1. Good to hear I'm not alone as Two-books Trebian. I'd say you are unfair on Reid. I think he was trying to be an antidote to the Highland hero worship that was prevalent in respect of Montrose and the Walter Scott like romanticism.

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