I know Nicholas Milton from quite a long way back and I reviewed, favourably, a previous book of his, Neville Chamberlain’s Legacy, here. When I get one of Nicholas’s books I tend to think, ‘I wonder whether I’ll be interested in that’ but it seems that I always am, and I think that’s partly because people are fascinating but also because the author shows me that I am interested in subjects that I might have neglected without his guidance. So, I’d say that’s a thumbs up for the way that he writes.

To be fair, there is a lot of wildlife in this book, as you might expect, and a lot about the lives of those famous ornithologists who were legends when I was young. So we meet James Fisher, Lord Alanbrooke, David Bannerman and Peter Scott as well as Joseph Stalin, Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt. But Carl Alexander Gibson-Hill and Sheila Allan were new names for me and I was interested in their times in Changi prison and the mixture of captivity, disease and birds, especially the Spotted Munia.

The cover? I like the cover a lot and it encapsulates the feel of the book – there is a large amount of wildlife, some military stuff going on and people that one would immediately suspect as living in the 1940s pictured with binoculars, and the back cover is good too. The Avocet actually has something in its beak too. As an attractive cover which hints well at what the book will contain – I can’t really fault it. I’ll give it 9/10. I would have given it 10/10 but that logo of ‘animals at war’ in the top left very slightly detracts from the overall look as far as I am concerned.

The Role of Birds in World War Two: how ornithology helped to win the war by Nicholas Milton is published by Pen and Sword Books.

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