Yesterday marked the release of my second work of non-fiction, in the form of Battle Tactics of the American Revolution, a short-ish treatise on, well, the battle tactics commonly employed by the British, French, German and colonial forces during the American Revolutionary War. It follows on quite neatly from my first work of non-fiction, British Light Infantry in the American Revolution, which came out in March.
Both books are part of Osprey Publishing’s “Elite” series (numbers 237 and 238). Consequently, they’re something of a dream come true for me. As an avowed history buff, I grew up reading Osprey’s line of titles, a spread that covers every conceivable conflict and military force, from before the coming of the Pharaohs to the present day. The Osprey brand is probably the most famous military history publisher in the world, thanks to the combination of easy-to-digest information and the liberal use of maps and artwork (vital aids too often left out of more academically-focused publications).
I approached Osprey last year with my pitches, and was delighted when they took me on board. The process of writing history, rather than fiction, was certainly a learning curve – it’s safe to say that a great deal of work goes into not just the research and actual writing of the body of text, but also into the sourcing of relevant artwork, the procuring of the rights to use said artwork, the writing of captions and popup text and the briefing of the artist tasked with producing the pieces specifically commissioned for the book. Regarding the latter I was fortunate to work alongside two supremely talented individuals, Stephen Walsh and Adam Hook, both Osprey veterans. As a kid, the publisher’s depictions of soldiers, equipment and battles was engrossing, so getting to essentially commission, for free, my own high-end art depicting what I considered to be important or relevant historical scenes was exciting. I was also assisted by a number of re-enactment groups – all rigorous practitioners of historical accuracy – who provided photographic additions covering uniforms and kit.
The process was extremely gratifying, even more so now that I get to see the books taking their place on the famous Osprey bookstore turning racks. I certainly have plans for future non-fiction pieces, both with Osprey and with publishers further afield. Time will tell if they play out.