About the Publisher

Osprey Publishing has been providing books for enthusiasts since 1968 and since then it has grown, evolved and taken on new challenges until it stands today as one of the most successful examples of niche publishing around.

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From the Publisher

Osprey Publishing has been providing books for enthusiasts since 1968 and since then it has grown, evolved and taken on new challenges until it stands today as one of the most successful examples of niche publishing around.

It was originally owned by Berkshire Printing, part of Brooke Bond, the tea company. The company was formed to publish Aircam Aviation, its first series, the brainchild of Dick Ward, the leading aviation illustrator. The series grew out of his work on the collectable cards which were then packaged with Brooke Bond tea. The first Osprey book was published in 1969: Aircam Aviation Series.1: North American P-51D Mustang in USAAF-USAF Service. This set the Osprey style of illustrated information books combining detailed and authoritative text, colour and black & white artwork, and photographs in uniform series formats.

With the success of Aircam, Dick Ward proposed applying the same approach to famous military units. Philip Warner, a distinguished historian from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, was appointed series editor and Men-at-Arms came into being. The first title, Foot Grenadiers of the Imperial Guard, was published in 1971. The earliest titles (originally unnumbered) were regimental histories rather than the studies of uniforms and equipment that now characterise most of the Men-at-Arms series, but the focus on uniforms and equipment was strong from the beginning. Osprey quickly became recognised as a leading publisher for military history enthusiasts.

Early in 1972 Martin Windrow, already working on Men-at-Arms as a freelance editor, joined Osprey full-time. Over the next 17 years Martin built Osprey’s series publishing, notably taking Men-at-Arms to its 200th title, having contributed a number himself. Back in 1974, no-one, Martin included, had imagined such a future. In the second half of the 1970s Osprey was acquired by the George Philip Group, the map and atlas specialists. Vanguard, now updated as New Vanguard, was launched in 1978 with an initial focus on armoured units. Elite was launched in 1984 with The Paras 1940–84 and now comprises well over 100 titles. In 1987 Martin Windrow left Osprey, but he would be back. At this time, alongside the distinctive and rapidly growing military and aviation series, Osprey published information and reference books in many subject areas and built a significant automotive list.

The fourth of the series that still form the core of Osprey’s publishing today, Campaign, was launched in 1990; Campaign 1: Normandy 1944 has been reprinted many times and the series now numbers some 200 volumes. Warrior followed in 1993, the early titles including Norman Knight AD 950–1204 and Confederate Infantryman 1861–65. Warrior 100: Nelson’s Sailors was published for the centenary commemoration of the battle of Trafalgar. The first New Vanguard, Kingtiger Heavy Tank 1942–45, published in 1993. In 2001 the range of the series was expanded to cover all types of war machine from all eras, in addition to 20th and 21st century armoured fighting vehicles. Two recent titles, Tudor Warships: Henry VIII’s Navy and Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk demonstrate this new scope.

Tony Holmes, who had been aviation editor since 1989 and taken photographs and written for Osprey prior to that, developed Aircraft of the Aces, a worthy descendant of Aircam, and it was launched in 1994 with Mustang Aces of the Eighth Air Force, an echo of Osprey’s first title. Combat Aircraft followed soon afterwards in 1997; and titles such as US Navy F-14 Tomcat Units of Operation Iraqi Freedom bring the series into the 21st century. Aviation Elite Units added a new perspective to the list in 2000.

In 1998, Osprey became an independent company and moved from London to Oxford, leaving Reed International, latterly Reed Elsevier, who had owned George Philip since 1988. The decision was soon taken to focus exclusively on publishing on warfare and military history in the established series, which had for many years been the business’s trademark product. Martin Windrow rejoined as Series Editor of Men-at-Arms, once again working as a freelance. A completely new publishing team was built, steadily increasing the output of new titles and adding many new customers to the loyal band gathered over the past three decades.

More new series were created – Essential Histories launched in 2001, Fortress and Osprey Modelling in 2003 and Battle Orders in 2004. Fortress and Battle Orders are firmly in the Osprey series tradition of providing detailed verbal and visual information on major facets of the history of war as a reference for hobbyists, academics and other professionals, and for study for the pleasure and fascination of it (whether as a lifelong habit or to satisfy passing interest). This was quickly confirmed by the welcome given to the first titles in these two series, which included Hadrian’s Wall AD 122–410 and US Marine Corps Pacific Theater of Operations 1941–43. Osprey Modelling (following on from the Modelling Manuals series) is different from the rest in that it offers ‘how-to’ books catering for one significant group of hobbyists. By contrast, Essential Histories, a multi-volume world history of wars and warfare, has introduced Osprey to a wider audience but is also valued by established customers for the overviews it provides.

The Osprey General publishing programme was launched in 2003. It has the same objective as Essential Histories of reaching out to the non-specialist reader with an active or spontaneous interest in military history. Some titles weave together new material with previously-published Osprey text and illustrations, others are completely new.

At the end of 2004 Osprey moved into new offices in Oxford and New York, and Osprey Publishing Inc, its newly formed subsidiary, started trading in North America at the beginning of 2005.

In August 2007 Osprey made its first acquisition, in the shape of the enthusiast history, heritage and collectables publisher Shire. Also in 2007 another new series, Duel, was launched. With the strapline ‘Engage the Enemy’, the series provides accounts of machines of war pitted against each other and the combatants who operated them. Readers are invited to step onto the battlefield and immerse themselves in the experience of real historic combat through a combination of technical detail, first-hand accounts and superlative illustration. The first volumes in this series have outperformed all sales expectations and we have to work very hard to reprint in order to keep up with demand.

The company continues to flourish. Early in 2008 Osprey moved into another new phase of its life, entering the gaming arena by publishing Field of Glory in conjunction with Slitherine Software Ltd. The rules are rapidly becoming the standard in ancient and medieval miniature wargaming. The reception for this product has been staggering, with fantastic reviews across the gaming world. Its production and design values, a hallmark of Osprey’s publishing, have been particularly praised.

Martin Windrow remembers that in 1974 he ‘was wondering if Men-at-Arms might last another year’. Three decades later, well over 400 titles have been published in that series, and the whole Osprey list now totals nearly 1,500. The central mission is unchanged. Osprey will continue to bring together expert authors and illustrators and military-history enthusiasts by delivering the information readers need to increase their knowledge and to enrich their leisure or professional pursuits. Osprey’s enthusiasm for military history is balanced by an equal enthusiasm for excellent publishing.

We thank all our contributors for making Osprey possible, all our readers for their interest and support, all our partners for the work we have done together over the years and all our retailers and distributors for making sure the right books end up in the right hands. We are always pleased to receive comments and questions about our publishing and future plans, and to be informed of our customers’ needs and wishes.

Book Reviews

The Last Viking, by Don Hollway
Harald Hardrada is one of the characters from history who has always fascinated me. I mean, anyone who goes by the moniker ‘Hard Ruler’ must have something about them, right? For the purposes of full transparency, though, I should point out that he has an all-too-brief cameo role in the first of my Huscarl’s Chronicles trilogy – Thurkill’s Revenge – pitching up at the battle of Stamford ...
The Reckoning, by Prit Buttar
The Reckoning is an engaging contribution to scholarship on the Second World War. Pivotally, Buttar rejects the Western-centric view of the ‘Eastern Front’ being a sub-event to the exploits of the Allies in seeking control over the West. Indeed, Buttar insists that the struggle between the USSR and Germany was ...
Churchill, Master & Commander, by Anthony Tucker-Jones
There are many published books about Winston Churchill, but this is not yet another one. It is a quite remarkable analysis of, and insight into, Churchill’s personality traits and experiences, as a young soldier and journalist during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and the impact and influence of those traits and experiences on Churchill when Prime Minister during the Second ...
Immortal Valor, by Robert Child
Out of the nearly 500 Medals of Honor awarded during World War Two, only seven black Americans received this award. Immortal Valor tells their stories.Charles L. Thomas, Vernon J. Baker, Willy James Jr., Edward Allen Carter Jr., George Watson, Rueben Rivers, and John Fox. Each have a unique story to tell ...
At the Gates of Rome, by Don Hollway
In less assured hands, this could have been a turgid and thoroughly bewildering read. Thankfully, Don Hollway knows his subject inside out and neatly picks his way through the convoluted history of the late Roman Empire. As the title suggests, the focus is on events leading up to the climactic fall of Rome, the so-called Eternal City, sacked by Alaric the Goth in 410 AD.Much of the ...
Crécy: Battle of Five Kings, by Michael Livingston
The Battle of Crécy is one of the most famous battles of both the Hundred Years War and the late Middle Ages. It made legends of many of its participants including Edward the Black Prince. It was a testament to the skill, daring and cunning of the English; to the wisdom and strategic brilliance of Edward III. It was a deciding victory.And almost everything we know about it may in fact be ...
A War of Empires, by Robert Lyman
There have been many accounts of the disasters followed by the triumph of the Burma campaign in the Far East war, but few with the detail and perceptive analysis of A War of Empires. Robert Lyman is of course a noted authority on the history of the region, and his biography of Bill Slim is a model of how such ...
Hitler’s Winter War, by Anthony Tucker-Jones
Having recently appreciated Tucker-Jones’ book about Churchill, his book, Hitler's Winter, about the German perspective of The Battle of Bulge did not disappoint. Tucker-Jones has a great knack of being able ...
Dünkirchen 1940, by Robert Kershaw
With the ability of British collective memory to turn abject failure into heroic myth, the 1940 campaign, which eventually saw the Royal Navy fulfil one of its traditional roles of removing a beaten army to be used somewhere else, has become the ‘Miracle of Dunkirk’.  Dunkirk has given rise to a great many books and films, some total nonsense propagating legends constructed at the time to ...
Meat Grinder, by Prit Buttar
In the Second World War Germany lost four million military dead. Three million of those were on the Eastern Front. From June 1941 onwards never fewer than seventy-five percent of German’s land and air assets were on the Eastern Front. In the whole of the war the United Kingdom lost 0.4 percent of her population, the USA 0.3 percent, whilst a conservative estimate suggests the USSR lost twenty

Articles

Bill Slim: a Master of both War and Words
In 1956 a military biography became a publishing sensation in the United Kingdom with the first edition of 20,000 selling out almost immediately. This was unusual, as only nine years after the war the public appetite for books on the recent war remained limited. It was even more unusual given that Defeat into Victory was written by a general in ...
Remembering a Giant: Uncle Bill
Even the most sketchily educated Briton today will nevertheless recognise in the murky depths of their consciousness the name of that great British general of World War Two, Montgomery of Alamein.  To an older generation perhaps another name resonates equally and perhaps more strongly, the name of a man Montgomery airily dismissed as a mere ‘sepoy general’, and yet someone whose military ...
Mantinea: When the Spartans Actually Won
The ancient Spartans enjoy an undeserved reputation as history’s biggest badasses - peerless warriors who never surrendered, never ran from a fight, and never backed down. It’s total nonsense. The Spartans were human beings first and foremost. This doesn’t mean they were any worse than other people, only that they were no better. And it is to this mission - of seeing the ...
The Last Viking
King Harald Sigurdsson of Norway, called Hardrada, the Hard Ruler, was a Viking hero straight out of fantasy: an outcast prince who won a fortune, romanced empresses, married a queen, and carved a kingdom for himself with his own blade. He launched the last great Norse invasion of England and died like a Viking: laughing, sword in hand. Fantasy heroes, however, are just fiction. ...
The Red Army and the Wehrmacht: Bludgeon and Rapier?
It is a widely held point of view that history is usually written – or at least distorted – by the victors. The history of the war on the Eastern Front between the Red Army and Wehrmacht, in the English speaking world is almost unique in that it does not conform to this belief.In the years that followed the end of the Second World War, western interest inevitably focused on the campaigns ...
Churchill and Mustard Gas
While researching my latest book Churchill Master and Commander, one of the more bizarre things I discovered was Churchill’s undying enthusiasm for the use of mustard gas. Britain at the start of the Second World War had 500 tons of the stuff, by the end Churchill had seen to it that this had risen to 41,000. The ...
Edward A Carter: Medal of Honor Winner
The soldier that graces the cover of Immortal Valor, Sergeant Edward A Carter, epitomized the courageous warrior. His look of iron-willed determination was not forged during the battles of the Second World War but from an early age. Little did he know when he returned home to Los Angeles from the war that his ...
Alaric at the Gates of Rome
It took little more than a single generation for the centuries-old Roman Empire to fall. In those critical decades, while Christians and pagans, legions and barbarians, generals and politicians squabbled over dwindling scraps of power, two men – former comrades on the battlefield – rose to prominence on opposite sides of the great game of empire. Flavius Stilicho, the half-barbarian general ...
The Battle of Crécy: A Great or Diminished Victory?

King Edward III’s victory over the king of France at Crécy in 1346 is without a doubt one of the great battles in the history of England. It’s the subject of countless books from absolutely brilliant historians. So if you’d asked me two decades ago if I thought I’d ever write about the Battle of Crécy, I’d have told you I would not. I ...

India’s Victory
Both in India and Britain, the war in the Far East has for a long time been considered part of a colonial conflict between the competing armies of the Japanese and British Empires. In a new book on the subject, Robert Lyman has made a compelling case that the war was for the defence of India, by Indians. Here he outlines that view.What do you think of when someone mentions the war in ...
Hitler’s Winter
One cannot but marvel at Adolf Hitler’s quite remarkable audacity when he launched four major operations in the winter of 1944. This was at a time when the Allies were relentlessly advancing on all fronts and his exhausted armies were in a complete state of disarray after a series of devastating defeats. The destruction of Nazi Germany appeared only a matter of time. Yet all was not as it ...
God Save the King!
God Save the King!Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II had a special place in the hearts of every serviceman and woman of this country. This isn’t mere sentimentality, but a fact hard rooted in our constitution. All servicemen and women owe their loyalty not to a particular group or class, or to the political group that happens to have a majority in Westminster at the time, but to the monarch ...

Interviews

Robert Lyman
Robert Lyman, what first attracted you to the period or periods you work in?I have been a voracious devourer of history since a child, reading everything I could from an early age, before studying history at O and A level and at university. I am not exclusively a military historian, in that my interests range widely. I studied ...
The Last Viking: Paul Bernardi Interviews Don Hollway
Don Hollway, Harald plays an all too brief part in the history of these isles but there is so much more to the man. What led you to want to write about him?I first read Hardrada’s story as a boy and thought, “Wow, what a life that guy led!” I always wanted to tell his tale, but a magazine article wouldn’t do him justice. When my agent said to me, “Vikings are hot right ...
The Reckoning: Prit Buttar Interview
Prit Buttar, you’ve written about the defeat of Army Group South (AGS) in 1944. Why write about this theatre, and this stage of the Eastern Front?This was the year when the Red Army completed its evolution from the ‘stumbling colossus’ of 1941 to the war machine capable of defeating the Wehrmacht. It was the end of a long, painful learning curve, and not enough credit has
Master & Commander: Anthony Tucker-Jones Interview
Anthony Tucker-Jones, it seems early on in his life Churchill had big ideas. His paper on invading Russia impressed his school master at Harrow. Did he always have grand strategic plans?To start with no, he struggled to apply himself and was unhappy at Harrow. It was not until he joined the army that he became more focused. Foremost was his desire to impress Lord Randolph
Immortal Valor: Robert Child Interview
Robert Child, how did you come to write the book? After all, it is an important story that needs to be told.I had written and produced a film for National Geographic called, The Wereth Eleven, about black soldiers in World War II which subsequently became a co-written book I produced with Penguin Random House titled, The Lost Eleven. Writing about black ...
At the Gates of Rome: Don Hollway Interview
Congrats on your latest title, At the Gates of Rome. In the introduction to your book, you mention Edward Gibbon’s seminal Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire. How influential is Gibbon, both historically and to your own work, and do we need to move on from his title?In my opinion, nobody can write a history of Rome without at least a tip of the hat ...
Michael Livingston on The Battle of Crécy
Michael Livingston, congratulations on the new book, Crécy. We have a few questions. Jonathan Sumption called Crécy a political catastrophe for the French. Just how big a defeat was it, after all the 100 Yrs War had only begun in 1337, and would continue to be fought for another century ending in French victory?Crécy was a bloody, awful event. And, yes, it was a ...
Patrick Bishop on Operation Jubilee
Patrick Bishop and Robert Lyman discuss Operation Jubilee, the subject of Patrick’s new book, costing over 6,000 men, mostly Canadian. Louis Mountbatten played a key role in planning the operation, and it was claimed that lessons were learned for D-Day nearly two years later. You’ve ...
Anthony Tucker-Jones on Hitler’s Winter
Anthony Tucker-Jones, the Battle of the Bulge (or Ardennes Offensive) is one of the most famous clashes of the Second World War, and you’ve chosen to write about it from the German perspective. Why do you think we’ve not heard Germany’s side of the story?Well, I think the primary reason for that is the Battle for Bastogne. The heroic and defiant defence of the town by the
Robert Kershaw on Dünkirchen
The British view of Dunkirk is that of an iconic battle, a hugely important morale boost snatched from the jaws of what really was a catastrophic defeat. How is Dünkirchen viewed by the Germans?Dunkirk was viewed by German soldiers as simply a sign-post on the way to Paris. Some 29 French and 22 Belgian divisions were destroyed in the Northern Flanders pocket, ...