The other night, I had a castaway-inspired dream: I was shipwrecked on a tropical island with no way of returning to civilization! Needless to say I was quite glad to wake up from this, but this Friday's list is inspired by that hallucination of hardship - I'm going to share with you the 5 Osprey titles I'd pick if I had to spend the rest of my life on a desert island!


Although the selection process began by picking my favourites - there were other things to bear in mind. You have to consider - these are the only books you would be able to read, for the rest of your life. So they have to have a certain level of longevity, and give you the sense that you can get something more out of them with each re-read.

So, here are my desert island Osprey titles, and I want to know yours!

1. Imperial Japanese navy Aces 1937-1945


 An obvious choice. Its' subject matter is close to my heart, packed full of anecdotes about the pilots' personal experiences as well as their combat careers. It's also generously long, which makes it especially precious because material available for the subject is fairly scarce.

  (This would be the one I'd read after building a palm leaf shelter.)

 2.) Little Bighorn: Custer's Last Stand


I've always been fascinated with the plains Indians and their conflicts with the US army. But this was the first treatment of the battle I'd read that really enabled me to create a vivid mental image of both the dimensions and manoeuvres of the battle. The Campaign format, with the expansive illustrations and crucially the chronologically marked maps was ideal for that.

(This one would be my reward for making a fire to try to signal to any passing ships on the horizon)

3.) The Collision of Empires



Prit Buttar's newest title, out next month. After 'Between Giants' and 'Battleground Prussia' but he proved me wrong with another brilliant book, which is not out yet, but will be very soon. It's not that I necessarily prefer this to the previous two, but the subject is one that has been overlooked for too long, and I am especially interested in it because of my German/Baltic extraction.


(To get me in the serious, focused mood necessary for trying to shave with pieces of flint, should I try to retain some semblance of smartness.)


4.) The Knight Who Saved England



This is such a great read. The Marshal's life was so rich in drama that it could easily be made into a novel or film, and this book is as entertaining as either. The history of Britain is fascinating - so many invasions, different many different cultures arriving, and this period was full of factional intrigue, violence and turmoil.


(The Marshal's shining example would hopefully inspire me with the courage to go and hunt for sustenance.)


5.) Roman Soldier vs. Germanic Warrior


I think the thing that draws me to this book so much is the time period of the conflict it covers. That’s not to say that I’m overwhelmingly interested in the 9th Century AD, but the sheer fact that the book can present such a close focus on fighting so long ago boggles my mind! Plus, on the desert island I could pay close attention to the Germanic warriors’ beard and Suebian knot combinations and develop my own ragged style accordingly.

(This one would be the treat after a hard day trying to survive, sipping on my attempts at home made fermented coconut juice.)


Now, I want to know which books you would pick if you were stranded on a desert island. Try and keep it to a maximum of five, remember - really, it'd be an incredible stroke of luck if even one washed up, plus, five would give you one for every day of the working week. On the weekends you could work on your raft.

Get in touch and let me know!