Monday, 7 December 2009

Original review of Charles Grant's "The War Game", from Wargamer's Newsletter # 116, November 1971

THE WAR GAME by Charles Grant (10" x 7½”: 191 pages; 25 photographs; 28 maps and diagrams. Published by A. and C. Black £3.00).

I had read and enjoyed most of the contents of this book when originally published in "Tradition" magazine and now this most lavish and pleasingly presented book makes re-reading it a pleasure. My enjoyment was increased because I have actually fought with Charles Grant using the figures depicted in the beautiful photographs in the book and on the same battlefield. In that connection I am very impressed with the manner in which Charles Grant remains satisfied and loyal to his rules because those given in the book are exactly the same as we used on pleasant if argumentative Saturday afternoons and Sunday mornings some eight to ten years ago. I say this with some feeling because my own rules are constantly being changed or amended as some new situation arises that causes dissatisfaction.

It is a most pleasingly presented book presumably aimed at the beginner whom it takes in carefully explained steps through the mechanics of fighting that neglected but fascinating and colourful warfare of the mid-l8th century. Charles backs his theories with historical illustrations and, whilst there is nothing particularly new or original in the book, it admirably does what it sets out to do - to arouse interest in a pleasing period of warfare without once straying from the fact that it is an enjoyable game that is being described and not a highly technical and intense simulation of real warfare. It may be because the wargaming careers of Charles Grant and Brigadier Peter Young have been blended together for so many years and because both fight in the same period, but "THE WAR Game" most strikingly resembles "CHARGE!" by Brigadier Peter Young and Lieutenant-Colonel J.P. Lawford in that both are exactly the same size books, both beautifully presented with gorgeous and stimulating coloured jackets, the interior lay-out, style and standard of photographs and method of presentation is remarkably similar.

The principal difference lies in the style of writing where Charles lacks the whimsicality of the Brigadier and occasionally I found irritating his over-wordy, slightly old-fashioned style of putting words together as though they were directed at youngsters. However, this may be carping because after all Charles Grant's credentials for writing such a book arise from him being an experienced veteran wargamer and not a writer.

All-in-all, this is a most pleasing contribution to the ever growing literature of wargaming and, speaking with some experience, may I say that I think that Charles's publishers have done him proud!


Ross Mac said...

Interesting! I seem to share some opinions with the reviwer, do you know who he is?

Vintage Wargaming said...

Hi Ross, it was Don Featherstone. He seemed to have had a similar view of any book he hadn't written himself!



Ross Mac said...

I wondered if it was Don himself. I've always 'credited' him with my urge to always write my own rules but blamed my personality for the constant tinkering. now, I'm wondering.... Thanks -Ross