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Book Review

"Masters of Mayhem: Lawrence of Arabia and the British Military Mission to the Hejaz"

 

By Patrick Keenan - Editor

 

 

Basic Item Information

Title

Masters of Mayhem: Lawrence of Arabia and the British Military Mission to the Hejaz

Author

James Stejskal

Publisher

Casemate Publishers (Sponsor of WarWheels.Net)

ISBN/Stock Number

978-1-61200-5744

Media

Hard Cover 

Number of Pages

219

Number/Type of Photos and/or Illustrations

Approximately 70 Photographs and Seven Maps.

Text Language

English 

Retail Price

$32.95 USD 

Reviewer

Patrick Keenan

Review Date

March 26, 2020

Review Summary

Review Type

Full Read 

Basic Positive Features

Detailed & comprehensive coverage of the WWI era British HEDGEHOG Force, and the associated individuals, events and operations.

Basic Negative Features

None. 

Recommendation

A "Must Have"

Photos

         

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

First of all, to be completely up front, the source of this review sample is Casemate Publishers.  They are a sponsor of WarWheels.net.  With that being said, we can start with the product review.

This review is of the book titled “Masters of Mayhem: Lawrence of Arabia and the British Military Mission to the Hejaz”, and authored by James Stejskal. As the Casemate promotional statement does a great job of summarizing the book, I’m going to use it.  The focus of the book is to cover “…the creation of the HEDGEHOG (British Military Mission) force, the formation of armored car sections and other units and focuses on the Hejaz Operations Staff, the allied officers and men who took T.E. Lawrence’s idea and prosecuted it against the Ottoman Turkish army assisting Field Marshal Allenby to achieve victory in 1918”.  In addition, the book also examines “…how HEDGEHOG has influenced special operations and unconventional warfare, including Field Marshal Wavell, the Long Range Desert Group and David Stirling’s SAS”

 

Based upon the synopsis as listed above, I believe Mr. Stejskal has penned a great book. His work is extraordinarily detailed and comprehensive in its approach.  The book is very well researched, and includes many primary sources such as unit reports and correspondence from individuals directly involved in the events. Also, as it relates to “linking” HEDGEHOG with contemporary special forces units and the use of combined arms tactics, he also succeeds on that account by providing numerous examples and comparisons throughout the book.

 

Second, Mr. Stejskal does a wonderful job by making what could be a bland subject into an exciting story.  He does this by interlacing a flowing narrative into the basic “who, what, where, why, when and how’s” related to events.  With Masters of Mayhem, you get two books in one.  You surely get a traditional educational reference if you want to learn “old school” history.  However, you also get an exciting and engrossing novel-like story as well. 

 

On a side note, as someone immensely interested in armored cars, I was specifically interested in Mr. Stejskal’s coverage of the creation, equipment and tactics of the Hejaz Armoured Car Battery/Squadron.  Well, I’m glad to report that aspect of the book was also at the same high standard as the rest of his work.  Specifically noteworthy is he provides very detailed descriptions of the Rolls-Royce 1914 Admiralty Turreted Pattern Armoured Cars and Rolls-Royce Support Cars (“Tenders”) used by the unit. 

 

Photos

 

Approximately 70 black/white photographs and seven (7) maps are included to assist the reader with understanding the story and narrative of the book.  The quality of the photos is fine in order to illustrate the author’s points and purpose, as well as to add a bit of visual appeal to the story.  On the other hand, their size and vividness are average at best as it relates to use for vehicle or hobby modeling reference. However, we must keep in mind that was not their purpose.  In my opinion the true value of photographs is their uniqueness.  Many of the photos included are from the author’s private collection and/or from the families of the actual participants and thusly have never been published before. It is great to have them made available to us by Mr. Stejskal.

 

Conclusion

 

With “Masters of Mayhem”, the author Mr. Stejskal provides the reader with a detailed and comprehensive reference covering the relatively unknown WWI era British HEDGEHOG Force, and the associated individuals, events and operations.  An added bonus is his meticulous coverage of the Rolls-Royce Armoured Cars and “Tenders” in use by the Hejaz Armoured Car Battery/Squadron.  If you are at all interested in World War One History in general, or T.E. Lawrence, HEDGEHOG and/or special/combined operations in specific, you will find this book informative, yet highly entertaining.

 

Recommendation: “A Must Have”

 

Thanks to Casemate Publishers for the Review Sample.
 
Copyright: Patrick Keenan March 26, 2020