William Shepherd joined Osprey in 1998 and was the Osprey Publishing MD until the end of 2008 when he theoretically retired. Except that William didn't really retire, he just crossed that dangerous, barbed wire infested no-man's-land that exists in publishing, making the sometimes fraught tranistion from publisher to author - his first Osprey book, a Campaign title on Salamis published earlier this year. From the sounds of things, it looks as if researching and writing his first Osprey book was almost as tough as keeping our office of renegades in line! William is still a welcome sight in the office - easy to spot when he pops in to raid our archives because he towers above everyone in the office by a good foot or so (at least that is how it feels to those of average height in the office!).
If you missed it, you should check out the series of blogs that William wrote about life as an Osprey author - it is a really interesting read.
When I asked William what his favourite Osprey book was, this is how he responded:
"Mike\'s invitation to write about a favourite Osprey book provided me with a welcome break from my next Campaign effort, Plataea 479 BC sequel to my Salamis 480 BC.
However, it presented a challenge of a different kind: what title to choose from rather a large range! Several ancient-world titles made early appearances on my shortlist but then I decided it would be more refreshing to fast-forward at least couple of millennia. I hovered over the medieval period for a while but finally settled for the very beginning of the 20th and Peking 1900.
I vividly remember picking this out of a pile of early copies in spring 2001 and being transfixed on my first flick-through by the weapons-grade moustaches sported by three of the leading Europeans. Best of them was Claude Maxwell MacDonald\'s, its waxed points reaching a good inch beyond each ear. He was the veteran soldier turned diplomat who successfully led “the strangely assorted international assemblage of military and civilians” - a multinational force of 392 marines and sailors (and seven Cossacks) and 125 volunteers - in the eight-week defence of the Peking Legation Quarter. General Sir Alfred Gaselee, who led the multinational relief column with equal distinction, opted for a magnificent walrus. Completing the trio with a massive and disciplined wedge of steel wool on his upper lip was the Allied Commander-in-Chief Count Alfred von Waldersee.These men and their moustaches were more than a match for the Society of the Righteous Harmonious Fists and the Dowager Empress Tzu Hsi\'s Imperial Army.
This is a great story, covering both the siege of the Peking Legations and the tense relief mission, full of characters and action.Its historical context is complicated and fascinating, nationalist struggle against European colonialism, the pressure closer to home of Russian and Japanese interests and, in the Boxer Uprising, the first wave of rebellion against the Manchu Dynasty. It was the Alamo, Mafeking, Lucknow and (fictional) Krishnapur definitely a top favourite!
But back to work: I have a few more questions for Herodotus...."
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