Osprey publishing breaks down its books into small high quality illustrated volumes, each focusing of a specific subject within a specific series. None are over 100 pages which allows their authors to really get to grips with the minutiae of a given military unit, piece of hardware or fortification. The nice thing about this is that you can create little compound collections of the different series’ (Historical combo meals if you will) which can give a shocking level of detail to your given area of study.
I’ll give an example with three mini book reviews, each of three different Osprey Series titles.
Campaign: Fornovo 1494.
Paperback: 96 pages
Publisher: Osprey Publishing (15 Sep 1996)
Campaign books give overview, scope, maps and full colour illustrations of battle scenes. They are perfect places to build up a picture from. Osprey’s own Medieval expert David Nicolle is at the helm of this relatively little known but highly significant Renaissance battle between France and the League of Venice. Nicolle takes a professionally even handed approach to this campaign, the format of these books makes it easy to do this, however Fornovo has always been a battle in which the French have been given the better end of the stick, and the author therefore is often at pains to fully clarify and explain the Italian side. The art inside is a special thing. The late Richard Hook showed consummate skill in packing this volume full of stunning full colour images.
Men At Arms: Italian Armies 1300 1500.
Paperback: 48 pages
Publisher: Osprey Publishing; First Edition edition (24 Mar 1983)
Having gotten a setting in mind, you might be more curious about that confusing array of Italian city states and their armies. Here again Nicolle gets into the nitty gritty. Men at Arms books discusses the nuts and bolts of armies and units. In this case, the progression of Italian armies from 1300 to 1500. Tactics, weaponry and a selection of choice battles (most of which will be new names to you) are included that beef out the “Opposing armies” section of the Campaign book. The excellent f
Warrior: Condottieri 1300 1500.
Paperback: 64 pages
Publisher: Osprey Publishing (4 July 2007)
But what if you want more? While reading the other two you might have puzzled about the Condottieri, and how they fit into the Italian military system. This title goes deeper than the MAA, focusing on a specific type of soldier, the infamous Italian mercenary who dominated warfare on the Peninsula during the height of the renaissance, and of whom you’ll have heard allot about from the other two,. Hitting all the high points, contracts, recruitment, tactics, and life on campaign beefed up by ground already covered in Nicolle’s work, it includes a list of famous Condottieri as well.
So there’s a very short demonstration of how you can build up compounds of composite series in the Osprey line to build up a comprehensive picture of an event. You can do with three or as many as four or five. This flexibility in resources is one of the reasons (the other is the pictures) why I have always loved Osprey.