Book Review: Madcap Military Mayhem by Benedict le Vay

by Jonah Begone

Madcap Military Mayhem: 200 years of the bizarre, barmy, bungled, brave and bloody brilliant by Benedict le Vay
2017, ONE PARTICULAR HOUSE ("Easier to find than Random House"), London, Amazon and Kindle
Paperback: 321 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (July 28, 2017)
ISBN-10: 1537784471
ISBN-13: 978-1537784472

Historical reenactors of all periods will absolutely LOVE this book!

Where appropriate, the author's tone is witty and entertaining; the section about the Pastry War between France and Mexico was a special joy - I loved all the wry cooking references in the text - and there are parts of this book that are so amazing I had to read them aloud to my wife Honoria.

The section "The Shameful Hidden War Between France and England, 1940-1942" was especially eye-opening. I knew this episode from reading Churchill's multi-volume history of World War II, but found this an apt summary.

The author's account of the 1932 war between the Australian army and tens of thousands of emus must be read to be believed. I was also amazed to read about the proposed World War II aircraft carrier made of ice and sawdust ("Project Habakkuk") - I had to look that one up on wikipedia. Incredible.

The illustrations are often excellent as well. It's hard to believe that two bullets fired during World War I would hit each other in mid-flight and meld together, but the visual evidence is here! (One nit, however: At times the author uses what appear to be low resolution .jpgs gleaned from somewhere on the Internet. My publisher doesn't let me get away with this! Also, there is nary a photo credit anywhere... beware the lawyers.)

Reenactors need to read this very fun book - it will serve as conversational fodder for many campfire circles.

Assuming that reenactments are still being held these days, that is.