Books about PPA, other Special Forces and related subjects


BOOKS ABOUT POPSKI'S PRIVATE ARMY

Proof copy of Popski's book with the original title Proof copy of Bob Yunnie's book MacGibbon and Kee 1954
Proof copy of Popski's book
with the original title
Proof copy of Bob Yunnie's book
with the original title
Proof copy of John Willett's book

Five primary books have been published about Popski’s Private Army, in various editions and languages, all listed here, with most known to be out of print. There are also several unpublished typescripts in the foPPA Archives, some embargoed for the time being.

This page is for the general reader and so does not attempt to provide a comprehensive bibliography of PPA references. There are many books and articles about Special Forces that refer to the Popski story but they generally only reproduce sections of Popski’s book without new material and sometimes introduce errors. For background context foPPA recommends reading any and all of the books by Long Range Desert Group personnel, as well as, of course, Lawrence and Doughty. All books are in English unless indicated otherwise, and all editions illustrated below are in the foPPA Archives.


PUBLISHED BOOKS

Lieutenant-Colonel Vladimir Peniakoff DSO MC

Only some editions have the original fold-out colour maps, photographs and index, while some others also have small illustrations and different photographs.

  • Private Army (1950). Jonathan Cape. Hardback. This was the original best-seller.
  • Private Army (1950). Thomas Crowell. Hardback.
  • Private Army (1951). Jonathan Cape. Hardback. Second edition with foreword by General Sir John Hackett and a few small revisions after comments from participants.
  • Popskis Privatarmé (1951). Natur Och Kultur. Hardback. In Swedish.
  • Geisterarmee (1951). Paul List. Paperback. In German.
  • Corsari In Jeep (1951). Garzanti. Paperback. In Italian.
  • Mon Armée Privée (1953). Librairie Gallimard. Paperback. In French.
  • Popski’s Private Army (1953). Reprint Society. Hardback.
  • Tseva’oh Ha-perati shel Popski (1954). Ma’arachot. Hardback. In Hebrew.
  • Popski’s Private Army (1955). Ayma SL Editories. In Spanish. [it's not known if this edition was actually published: no copies have ever surfaced]
  • Popski’s Private Army (1957). Yugoslav publisher unknown. In Serbo-Croat. [it's not known if this edition was actually published: no copies have ever surfaced]
  • Popski’s Private Army (1957). Pan Books. Paperback.
  • Popski’s Private Army (1965). Corgi. ISBN 0552072907. Paperback.
  • Popski’s Private Army (1975). Mayflower. ISBN 0583123821. Paperback.
  • Popski’s Private Army (1980). Bantam. ISBN 0553271709. Paperback.
  • Popski’s Private Army (1980). Nelson Doubleday. Hardback.
  • Popski’s Private Army (1983). Academy Chicago. ISBN 0583123821. Paperback
  • Tseva’oh Ha-perati shel Popski (1986). Ma’arachot. Reprint in Hebrew.
  • Popski’s Private Army (1991). Oxford University Press. ISBN 0192852388. Paperback. With index.
  • Popski’s Private Army (2002). Cassell Military Paperbacks. ISBN 0304361437. With new foreword by Captain John Campbell.
  • Corsari In Jeep (2005). Danilo Montanari Editore. ISBN-13 9788887440065. In Italian. Reprint of Garzanti edition with pictures of Partisans.

The book was originally going to be called "The Oryx and the Astrolabe" until Jonathan Cape persuaded Popski to go for the simple and obvious. The original manuscript is in Popski's private papers (now in IWM), with a copy in the foPPA Archives. Two annotated proof copies of the first edition are known to exist: one is in IWM whilst the other is in the foPPA Archives.

Jonathan Cape 1950 Thomas Crowell 1950 Natur Och Kultur 1951 Paul List 1951
Jonathan Cape 1950 Thomas Crowell 1950 Natur Och Kultur 1951 Paul List 1951
Garzanti 1951 Librairie Gallimard 1953 Reprint Society 1953 Ma’arachot 1954
Garzanti 1951 Librairie Gallimard 1953 Reprint Society 1953 Ma’arachot 1954
Pan Books 1957 Mayflower Books 1975 Bantam Books 1980 Nelson Doubleday 1980
Pan Books 1957 Mayflower Books 1975 Bantam Books 1980 Nelson Doubleday 1980
Academy Chicago 1983 Oxford University Press 1991 Cassell Military Paperbacks 2002 Danilo Montanari Editore 2005
Academy Chicago 1983 Oxford University Press 1991 Cassell Military Paperbacks 2002 Danilo Montanari Editore 2005

Captain Robert Park Yunnie MC

Captain Yunnie was Popski’s original 2nd in command and skipper of ‘B’ Patrol.

  • Warriors on Wheels (1959). Hutchinson. Hardback.
  • Warriors on Wheels (1961). Arrow Books. Paperback.
  • Fighting with Popski’s Private Army (2002). Greenhill Military Paperbacks. ISBN 1853675008. This is Warriors on Wheels but reissued and retitled, and with an Appreciation by Ben Owen and an Epilogue by Yunnie’s son, Don, regarding Bob’s death in the Congo in 1961.
  • Fighting with Popski’s Private Army (2011). Frontline Books. ISBN 1848326165.

A proof copy of the first edition is in the foPPA Archives.

Hutchinson 1959 Greenhill Military Paperbacks 2002 Frontline Books 2011
Hutchinson 1959 Greenhill Military Paperbacks 2002 Frontline Books 2011
Corporal Ben Owen

Corporal Owen was Captain Yunnie’s gunner.

  • With Popski’s Private Army (1993). Janus Publishing. Paperback.
  • With Popski’s Private Army (1996). Astrolabe Publishing. Hardback. Privately published by Ben.
  • Poems for the young and not so young (1998). Astrolabe Publishing. Paperback. Privately published by Ben.
  • With Popski’s Private Army (2007). Astrolabe Military Paperbacks. Paperback. Additional chapter about ‘Trooper X’. This edition was produced by foPPA after taking over Ben Owen’s Astrolabe imprint. Buy it now from the foPPA Shop.
  • With Popski’s Private Army (2009). Janus Publishing. Paperback. Unauthorised reprint of 1993 edition.

Much original material for Ben's book is in the foPPA Archives, as foPPA is now the publisher. Included is Ben's delightful book of poetry.

Janus Publishing 1993 Astrolabe Publishing 1996 Astrolabe Publishing 1998 Astrolabe Military Paperbacks 2007
Janus Publishing 1993 Astrolabe Publishing 1996 Astrolabe Publishing 1998 Astrolabe Military Paperbacks 2007
Lieutenant-Colonel John Willett

This is Popski’s biography by his friend Lieutenant-Colonel John Willett, an Eighth Army Intelligence Officer. It gives a view of his life before and after PPA, so is very informative about Popski's family and upbringing, as well as his postwar life up until his death.

  • Popski: A life of Lt Col. Vladimir Peniakoff (1954). MacGibbon and Kee. Hardback.

A proof copy of this book is in the foPPA Archives.

MacGibbon and Kee 1954
MacGibbon and Kee 1954
Signalman Les White

Signalman White was a signaller in Lieutenant Reeve-Walker’s ‘S’ Patrol.

  • From the Workhouse to Vienna. Posthumously published privately by his daughter-in-law Anne Whyte. It's a British 20th Century social and miltary history that tells us about Les's coming-of-age in service, how he joined the Army and about his wartime service in PPA. Buy it now from the foPPA Shop.
Self-published
Self-published
Captain Ricky Rickwood

Captain Rickwood was skipper of ‘R’ Patrol.

  • The Khaki Sheep. FoPPA understands that only 100 copies were ever printed in Germany, publisher unknown, just after the war, and knows of only one copy in a private collection. In 2010 we discovered Ricky's daughter and son, who have the original typescripts, but we haven't seen those yet. They differ in one or two chapters.
tbc
tbc
Signalman Hamilton Tyler

Signalman Tyler was one of a small team drafted in with their powerful transmitter from 8th Army HQ in the Summer of 1944 to support Operation Astrolabe - also known as Operation Pipsqueak to the 9 Commando unit that supported PPA on their Adriatic coast landing behind the German Lines.

  • One of the D-Day Dodgers. This self-published book is about all of Hamiton's war, but includes a chapter about his time while attached to PPA.
Self-published
Self-published

UNPUBLISHED BOOKS

Captain John Campbell CVO CBE MC and Bar

Captain Campbell was the last of the “big four” officers of PPA and skipper of ‘S’ Patrol after Lieutenant Reeve-Walker. He went on to a successful career as a diplomat in Italy and Canada, and was the chairman of foPPA until his death in 2015, overseeing the creation of the PPA Memorial.

  • Snakes and Ladders. This typescript was thought lost in the 1970’s but was rediscovered in 2005. John did much work to revise it since, but was too frail to complete it. The original typescript and a transcribed digital copy are in the foPPA Archives.

SOURCES

Most of these books can be found now only secondhand on the Internet. FoPPA suggests looking at :-

Ben Owen's and Les White's book are available from the foPPA Shop now


BOOKS ABOUT OTHER SPECIAL FORCES AND RELATED SUBJECTS

xxx Operation Salam: László Almásy's Most Daring Mission in the Desert War
Kuno Gross, Michael Rolke and András Zboray


Hardback. Belleville, January 2013

This large, very detailed book tells the tale of Count László Almásy's (see "The English Patient") operation to infiltrate German agents into Cairo via the Western Desert, in a complete reversal of LRDG operations across the same vast desert wastes. It is written by three experienced desert explorers who mounted an expedition to follow exactly in Almásy's footsteps, taking photographs to match the original wartime ones, and finding artefacts from his operation.
xxx Tales from the Special Forces Club
Sean Rayment


Hardback. Collins, February 2013

This great book includes a chapter on foPPA Chairman Major John Campbell, Skipper of 'S' Patrol.
Light Car Patrols 1916-19: War and Exploration in Egypt and Libya with the Model T Ford
Russell McGuirk and Captain Claude H Williams


Paperback. Silphium Press, July 2013
A thorough story of the Light Car Patrols of the Great War - the first time this has been told. Read more...
xxx Special Operations in World War II: British and American Irregular Warfare
Andrew Hargreaves


Hardback. University of Oklahoma Press, October 2013

A comprehensive analysis of British and American WWII Special Forces, including PPA.

Copyright © 2017 foPPA
30 June 2017

Further information
Context: 

List of Context Codes, regardless of edition (see About this website)

  • VP = Vladimir Peniakoff: Popski's Private Army
  • RPY = Robert Park Yunnie: Fighting with Popski's Private Army (Warriors on Wheels)
  • BO = Ben Owen: With Popski's Private Army
Notes: 
  1. ^ The latest edition of Ben's book is only available from foPPA, and all revenue goes to the PPA Memorial Fund