Ballantine's Illustrated History

Between 1968 and 1975 Ballantine Books published an extensive series of military history books. This guide gives a brief background to the series, and lists all the titles and authors.

Ballantine's Illustrated History of World War II, later re-titled Ballantine's Illustrated History of the Violent Century, was a series of paperback books printed in both the USA and UK. The series deals with all aspects of Twentieth Century conflict, and each volume has a wealth of detailed information and illustrations. Many of the titles were written by well-known military authors, including Anthony Farrar-Hockley and Peter Young.

The Ballantine Publishing Group is a major American book publisher, now part of the Random House group. It was founded by Ian Keith Ballantine (1916-1995), a pioneering American publisher who had set up the distribution of Penguin Books in the United States during the Second World War. In 1945, with his wife Betty, he was involved in the formation of Bantam Books, becoming the first president of Bantam.

The Ballantines formed Ballantine Books in 1952, and quickly gained a reputation as one of the leading publishers of paperback science-fiction and fantasy. Their military history series Ballantine's Illustrated History of World War II/the Violent Century consists of 156 titles. Each book is a 5 by 8 inch volume with around 160 profusely illustrated pages.

Editor-in-Chief for the series was journalist, author and editor Barrie Pitt. After active service in both Europe and the Middle East during the Second World War, Barrie had written several successful military history books. He had also edited, under the overall editorship of Sir Basil Liddell-Hart, Purnell's History of the Second World War. This was a 96-instalment mass circulation series launched in 1966 at the Imperial War Museum. Barrie was therefore ideally qualified to become Editor-in-Chief of the Ballantine's Illustrated History series, and proved an unfailing source of support for the younger historians on the series.

The 156 books in the Ballantine's Illustrated History of World War II/the Violent Century themselves are organised into six different colour-coded groups: the Campaign Series - Beige/khaki; the Battle Series - Red; the Weapon Series - Blue; the War Leader Series - Purple; the Politics In Action Series - Black; the Human Conflict Series - Yellow, plus two Special Colour Series titles.

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