Close-up copy

Angus Konstam hails from the Orkney Islands and is the author of over 60 books, many of which are published by Osprey. This acclaimed and widely published author has written several books on piracy, including The History of Pirates and Blackbeard: America's Most Notorious Pirate. A former naval officer and museum professional, he worked as the Curator of Weapons at the Tower of London and as the Chief Curator of the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in Key West, Florida. He now works as a full-time author and historian, and lives in Edinburgh, Scotland.

His next book, Raid 17 The Great Expedition - Sir Francis Drake on the Spanish Main is out in February, and his most recent title, a Command title on Marlborough came out in November.

When I asked Angus what his favourite Osprey book was, he was actually on holiday in Geneva, but very kindly still managed to track down a computer and send me his thoughts:


"Choosing a favourite Osprey book is a tough call - so many to pick from, and so many great authors. I could pick one based on the authors whose writing I admire the most - those whose name on the cover is a guarantee of a good read or a well-researched book. David Nicolle, Martin Windrow, Philip Haythornthwaite. Mark Lardas or Gregory-Freemont Barnes are all great, but I have to put my friend Rene Chartrand at the head of the list. He writes well, which is surprising, as he speaks English like Pepe le Pew, with an outrageously thick French-Canadian accent! Not only are his books packed with information, but they include little nuggets that show real scholarship.  

I could also choose a book based on the artist. With over 50 titles under my belt I've worked with some of the finest in Osprey's stable - the likes of Dave Rickman, Peter Denis and Richard Hook. When I first began doing New Vanguard naval titles they hooked me up with Tony Bryan, whose work seems to have got better in each of the dozen titles we've collaborated on. Now that he's reached perfection he plans to retire - which is why good artists should never be allowed to set down their brush. Fortunately there's a new "Young Turk" in the field, and Paul Wright's battle scenes in British Battleships 1 and 2, or the forthcoming Bismarck 1941 are really superb.  I also had the opportunity to work with the late great Angus McBride. We collaborated on four Elite titles - Pirates, Sea Dogs, Buccaneers and Privateers. He really brought the subject to life, and his renditions of Francis Drake, Henry Morgan or Blackberard were trully fantastic. He even painted me into a scene from Privateers (in the picture above)  - something for which I'll be forever grateful.

Having said all that, I'm going to pick one of my own titles, mainly becuase I've had such fun writing them - or most of them anyway. For instance, the forthcoming NVG title Yangtse River Gunboats (Coming June 2011) was great fun to research and write. However, Campaign titles are probably the most rewarding. I've written about 10 or so, and all of them were a joy. A special mention has to go to Poltava 1709, which, together with my MAA titles on Peter the Great's Army came about thanks to a once in a lifetime opportunity - a museum research trip to the Kremlin Armoury in Moscow, with unlimited research access. Other books had covered the Swedish side in great detail. What I liked about Poltava was that it also gave the view from the Russian "side of the hill".  

However, my favourite Osprey book of all time has to be Pavia 1525. Like Poltava, it came about on the back of my museum work, and I was sent to tramp the battlefield with another military historian. We argued over the written sources, consulted old maps and prints, peered at the all-important fresos in the local church, and of course we "walked the ground" - that all-important ingredient when it comes to understanding the flow of a battle. As a result of all this I wrote a book which overturned Sir Charles Oman's theories about the battle - ones first laid out over half a century earlier. In the midst of our research in and around Pavia we had a "Eureka moment", and suddenly it all fell into place. Some 15 years later I'm still happy that we nailed it, but of course some 35 years down the line we might be proved wrong in our turn. In the meantime though, the fact that Osprey accepted our well-sourced arguments helped to show just how committed they are to historical accuracy. I've been a fan of Osprey ever since."