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Amateur Armies (Hardback)

Militias and Volunteers in War and Peace, 1797-1961

Military > Pre-WWI > American History Military > Pre-WWI > Boer Wars P&S History > By Century > 18th Century P&S History > By Century > 19th Century P&S History > By Century > 20th Century

By Dr Stephen M Cullen
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 224
Illustrations: 20 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781526734433
Published: 15th September 2020



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Amateur Armies examines the military and social history of volunteer armies around the western world from the failed French invasion of South Wales in 1797 to the disastrous anti-Communist invasion of the Bay of Pigs in Cuba in 1961.

It brings together some fascinating military actions across more than a century and a half of history and explores the social and political context in the countries involved. Stephen Cullen’s absorbing and original book is the first general survey of the role of amateur armies during the period.

Included are chapters on a series of wars in which militias played critical parts. In each case, their actions and effectiveness are described as is the background from which they came, and the social and political circumstances in which they operated. This pioneering study offers a valuable insight into each of the amateur armies covered and opens up an important and hitherto neglected aspect of military history.

I was interested in the City Imperial Volunteers (CIV), where a total of 1,260 served in South Africa drawn from 47 different units having been deemed fit for overseas service. As for the CIV, the South African campaign in 1900 was a harsh environment, shortages of food and extremes of heat and cold. Not to mention long periods of nothing happening, never quite knowing when it was to be broken by heavy artillery action.

Loopholes; Journal for the Pillbox Study Group

"It is a most enjoyable and enlightening book, with a decent index and a good bibliography. Highly recommended."

Hexham Local History Society (Hexham Historian) Newsletter - Autumn 21

This is a topical read, and a fascinating examination of the military and social history of ‘Volunteer Armies’ and their employment around the
western world.

Royal Anglian News, May-June 2021

Review by Jason Hubbard

...this book is well worth grabbing, as I did nd it an interesting read, and there’s lots of scope for the war gamer to pull out some great background informa- tion for creating amateur units as well possible scenarios to replay such as Fishguard. This will appeal to many military historians out there and most would not be disappointed if they found this wrapped up under the Christmas tree.

Irregular magazine, issue 14 Volume 2/Winter 2020

Amateur Armies are a phenomenon I have never ever considered needing further information on, but Stephen Cullen's superb book has changed all that, with considerable research and fascinating facts.

Books Monthly

This is an interesting insight into the creation and role of militia and ‘home defence’ units and how they became relevant and important to various conflicts. Maps would have been useful in delivering a better and complete understanding of some of the actions used as examples.

Michael McCarthy. Battlefield Guide

Michael McCarthy
Dr Stephen M Cullen

About Dr Stephen M Cullen

After studying at the universities of Edinburgh and Oxford, Dr Stephen M. Cullen taught economics, history and politics at independent schools.  He has published many papers and articles on twentieth-century history, in particular on the world wars, fascism, Jewish political activism, and the Home Guard. He is the author of In Search of the Real Dad’s Army: The Home Guard and the Defence of the United Kingdom 1940-1944 and World War II Vichy French Security Troops, and is a senior research fellow at the University of Warwick.

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