Thursday, May 19, 2011

How Can I Possibly Keep Up?

Twenty-five years ago, the only Osprey Books that drifted on to the market were the Men At Arms series.  I'd wait anxiously every couple of months hoping they'd fill out their Napoleonic range, got really excited when they issued the two volumes on the Polish renaissance armies, and even bought a couple titles just for the pictures.  The two latter that come to mind are the volume on the Ottoman Turks and the Burgundian Armies of the late middle ages.  The first had a fabulous picture in the ruins of Constantinople of an Ottoman soldier about to be flambeed by a soldier with a Naptha projector.  The look in his eyes of one about to be barbecue is priceless.  The Burgundian MAA has an illustration of a bombardier measuring stone to be shaped into cannon balls for a bombard.  It' s a job I think I could do quite well, and probably make more money (and definitely have a higher status) than I do as a teacher.

 At some point, however, Osprey became a publishing empire.  Men At Arms was not enough.  First there was the warrior series, with more in depth examination of certain troop types.  I've picked up a few these, the ones I thought were quite useful-longbowmen, highlanders, Huns, those that coincided with my projects.  Battle books.  Some are very good.  I love the Hundred Years War battle books by David Nicolle and Matthew Bennett.  I've avoided the essential histories, even though they often are written by great authors.  For example, Anne Curry wrote the Hundred Years War volume. 

I also didn't get into the small but potentially interesting  Order of Battle Series.  With one exception.  Unfortunately there is also a sad story that goes with it.  Perhaps the most useful book ever published by Osprey was the Battle of Quebec OOB #1 in the series.  I bought it when American Eagles in Tacoma closed.  It was super.  Great history of the campaign, campaign histories and color plates of each unit that fought at Quebec.  Wonderfully comprhensive and practical.  I gave my copy to Dave Demick, who I thought could use it more than me because Dave is my friend.  I though I could pick up a copy easily enough. WRONG!!! It's out of print.  It was out of print when I bought it.  It was out of print when I gave it away. I see that decent used copies can be had for under twenty bucks, so that may have to be a summer investment.

In any case, as you can see, Osprey, the little specialist company, has morphed into the big, giant military history octopus, adding new series ad infinitum.  I have seen one book in the new Raid series, however, that looks pretty interesting. The Great Chevauchee will be published at the end of May and includes details of John of Gaunt's raid into central France in 1373.  It will include details of skirmishes and ambushes along the way and should be a useful source for some HYW scenario.  I'll be keeping an eye out for it.

It used to be there were those who simply collected Osprey books.  How can they possibly afford to do it anymore?


Peter Douglas said...


I agree with everything you've said. I especially will second your vote on the OOB for Quebec 1759. This is so much more than the OOB title would indicate, with fantastic maps, uniform info and a treasure trove of wargaming ides.


Ray Rousell said...

The Quebec book is a good one, it's the only one I bought from the series