Osprey's Big Reveal: Elite

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In 2022, we're adding six new books to our Elite series. Which of our newest ELI books is making your wishlist?

 

ELI: Armies of the Iran–Iraq War 1980–88

Driven by the Iranian Revolution of 1979 and the insecurities it provoked in Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi dictatorship, the Iran–Iraq War would become the largest conventional conflict of the period. Curiously little-known considering its scale and longevity, the struggle between Iran and Iraq was primarily fought along the 1,458km border in a series of battles which, despite both sides being armed with modern small arms, armour and aircraft, often degenerated into attritional struggles reminiscent of World War I. Such a comparison was underlined by frequent periods of deadlock, the extensive use of trenches by both sides, and the deployment of chemical weapons by Iraq. Fully illustrated with specially commissioned artwork, this study investigates the organization, appearance and equipment of the ground forces of both sides in the Iran–Iraq War, including Iraq’s Republican Guards and Iran’s Pasdaran or Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The war resulted in stalemate with some half a million dead and at least as many wounded. The financial costs incurred in waging such a long and debilitating war were one of the spurs that led Saddam Hussein to invade Kuwait barely two years later, setting in motion one of the defining currents of recent Middle-Eastern history.

 

ELI: Gladiators 400 BC–AD 14

Originating in funeral rites during the Punic Wars of the 3rd century BC, the Roman gladiator games have come to symbolize the spectacle and savagery of Republican and Imperial Rome. While many gladiators met a grisly end, some survived to achieve celebrity and make huge fortunes.

The revolt of slaves led by Spartacus and others (73–71 BC) underlined the threat posed by large bodies of trained and armed combatants amid the Empire’s population, leading to limits being placed on the number of gladiators that any citizen could keep in Rome. As the demand for gladiators came to exceed supply, the first emperor, Augustus, banned ‘sine missione’ gladiatorial contents (those in which the loser was certain to be killed) and forbade the direct participation of senators, equestrians or their descendants.

Despite the wealth of literary and archaeological evidence, many misconceptions about the gladiators and their violent world remain. Featuring photographs and drawings of key items of visual evidence and drawing upon the author’s wealth of experience and research, this fully illustrated account recreates the little-known and under-represented gladiators of the centuries leading up to the dawn of the Principate, correcting myths and casting new light on the roles, lives and legacy of these legendary arena fighters.

 

ELI: Roman Plate Armour

First named by Renaissance historians studying the reliefs on Trajan’s Column, lorica segmentata evaded successful attempts to reconstruct it until a series of important archaeological finds in the 20th century revealed how it worked the truth of its extended chronology.  The earliest finds date to the late 1st century BC shows how rapidly it was adopted. At the same time, discoveries in Spain and Britain showed that, despite its apparent fragility, it continued in use into the 4th century AD.

The spectacular find of six halves of cuirasses in a chest at Corbridge in 1964 has now been matched by the rare discovery of a complete set of this armour at Kalkriese. The Corbridge find provided the context to interpret and reconstruct earlier finds from Newstead, Eining and Zugmantel. There is now years of experience gleaned from re-enactors over the practical strengths and weaknesses of this form of armour. At the same time, scientific analysis has provided insights into the technology behind this revolutionary form of armour so characteristic of the Roman Army. Drawing upon the latest findings, this study lifts the veil on the formidable plate armour used by the legionaries of Imperial Rome.

 

ELI: Soldiers of Fortune

The phenomenon of mercenary soldiering has constantly recurred in the news since the 1960s and has always attracted lively interest. The concept of ‘mercenaries’ began in the former Belgian Congo during the 1960s when men such as Mike Hoare and Bob Denard assembled hundreds of military veterans to 'do the fighting' for a particular leader or faction. This idea soon evolved into small teams of individuals training and leading local forces with varying success. This picture then evolved again, as former officers with recent experience set up sophisticated commercial companies to identify and fill the needs of governments whose own militaries were inadequate.

Most recently, the aftermath of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has seen such contractors taking on some of the burden of long-term security off major national armies, while the subsequent rise of ISIS/Daesh has added a parallel strain of ideological volunteers. The author is well placed to describe how the face of mercenary soldiering has evolved and changed over 60 years. Using first-hand accounts, photos and detailed illustrations, this book presents a compelling snapshot of the life, campaigns and kit used by mercenary operatives engaged in fighting within both larger and more specific conflicts around the world.

 

ELI: Soviet State Security Services 1917–46

The Bolsheviks’ seizure of power in Russia in late 1917 was swiftly followed by the establishment of the Cheka, the secret police of the new Soviet state. The Cheka was central to the Bolsheviks’ elimination of political dissent during the Russian Civil War (1917–22). In 1922 the Soviet state-security organs became the GPU and then the OGPU (1923–34) before coalescing into the NKVD. After it played a central role in the Great Terror (1936–38), which saw the widespread repression of many different groups and the imprisonment and execution of prominent figures, the NKVD had its heyday during the Great Patriotic War (1941–45). During the conflict the organization deployed full military divisions, frontier troop units and internal security forces and ran the hated GULAG forced-labour camp system. By 1946, the power of the NKVD was so great that even Stalin saw it as a threat and it was broken up into multiple organizations, notably the MVD and the MGB – the forerunners of the KGB. In this book, the history and organization of these feared organizations are assessed, accompanied by photographs and colour artwork depicting their evolving appearance.

 

ELI: The Dutch Resistance 1940–45

The Nazi occupation of the Netherlands in World War II followed a complex course, whose scope is not widely understood. It was a great deal broader and more varied than the much-reported German counter-espionage success against Dutch agents parachuted in by the Special Operations Executive. From spring 1943 onwards, three Dutch Resistance organizations gained momentum: the Order Service (OD), the Resistance Council (RVV), and the National Assault Teams (LKP). In response, the Germans raised collaborationist forces to counter the Resistance, including the much-feared Landwacht. In September 1944 the OD, RVV and LKP amalgamated into the Netherlands Interior Forces (NBS), while Allied troops began to liberate the southern provinces. This allowed NBS forces in the south to form Stoottroepen, uniformed and armed by both the British and US armies. These assisted the Allied advance, while a bloody underground struggle continued in the occupied north until final liberation in April/May 1945. Illustrated with rare photos and new colour plates, this book gives a comprehensive account of one of the lesser-known struggles of World War II.

Post Comments

Cicerius posted on 8 Aug 2021 01:10:54
Elite series has some strange titles no error.
I will be getting the Dutch Resistance book for sure. I found several years ago that one of my uncles was in the resistance. Shows how old I am. Good that the Dutch have featured in several recent titles. Another uncle was in the Dutch army in Indonesia post WWII.
PAUL W posted on 7 Aug 2021 10:31:27
I see painty's point re elite, being a dumping ground for almost miscellaneous titles, but at least they get published, so I'm not complaining.

I'm actually looking forward to most of these. Will be interesting to see what new material is added to the gladiator book as we already have a warrior and general military titles on the subject. The plate armour sounds odd but enjoyed the roman shields book, so I'll be adding this one to my collection.

As will the others, just wonder if the Soviet State Security Forces and soldiers of fortune are trying to cover too much in one book?
kuvaszsleepybear posted on 5 Aug 2021 19:23:34
Every thing but the Romans/Gladiators for me.
Hessy Field posted on 5 Aug 2021 14:04:51
I quite like this list - always like to see a few ancient titles. Particularly looking forward to the Iran-Iraq War (delayed from this year) - the bloodiest conventional conflict since the Korean War.
KenA posted on 5 Aug 2021 12:45:54
Soviet State Security Forces and The Dutch Resistance are on my purchase list The latter mightn't strictly speaking be an elite force but I have an interest in that part of the WWII conflict.
Paintybeard posted on 5 Aug 2021 10:51:40
Elite continues to be bedevilled by being the dumping ground for all the subjects that don't quite fit into any other category. Despite that there are some pretty good books here. Soviet Security forces and the Iran - Iraq armies will be definite purchases for me.

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