It’s amazing what little gems you can find dotted around the odd used book or charity shop. Take this book which I picked up for less than £1 in a charity shop in Caldicot (in researching the background of the book I stumbled across a used copy for sale on Amazon for £9.49). George Forty’s book documents the early experiments with armoured vehicles before moving on to discuss the formation of the first Royal Tank Regiments and then chronicling the maturation of British armoured units up to the 1980s (the date of publication).
What more could you want for less than a pound?
As the title implies this book is lavishly illustrated with many rare images from the early days of the regiment. This is perhaps one of the best books I have ever read when it comes to looking at this landmark period. The book takes an almost personal approach to describing what life was like in the early tank regiments and their experiences with taking the idea of armoured warfare and making it a reality.
What I will say however is that this depth isn’t maintained throughout the book and once the stories of the First World War are finished the chapters covering the inter-war years feel almost rushed by comparison. This is a shame as there were many interesting points which were brought up and then passed over such as British tanks in the Russian Civil War and the use of armoured cars by the Army during the general strikes of the 1920s. The depth returns during the Second World War chapters but teeters off once again in the post war years. I really would have liked more on the Korean War with the same quality as the earlier chapters.
Anyone looking for a technical book will be disappointed as this is a book about the people not the machines. This really is worth it just for the opening chapters about the birth of the tank.