Sniping in the Great War.
A helpful little book filled with technical details on the guns, scopes, practices and personalities behind the performance of sniping among various Commonwealth and Regular troops of the BEF. The German side of the story is given generous, if not as thorough, treatment as are the British. An overview of the history of wartime rifle use in other times and places is included.
It’s well enough written, with few grammatical errors, but it’s obviously been padded with a great deal of repetitive, almost literary, verbiage, without which it would have been a much shorter book. There are detailed photographs of the arms, and pictures of proponents of the skill.
My big gripe with the book is that although published in hardcover with a fine, glossy dust jacket, the pages started falling out – and it was purchased new.
Otherwise, not a bad investment for those who want some in-depth, albeit brief, background on this aspect of trench warfare.
Three Armies on the Somme: The First Battle of the Twentieth Century.
The size and presentation of this volume, along with the back cover hype and the author’s credentials, promise much more than they deliver.
What this writer tells about the French army has been equally well told elsewhere; what he contributes about the German army is less than substantial, and he has nothing new to say about the role of the BEF, except to wax snarky about other historians’ work; indeed, he often descends to ad hominem attacks against those authors, a distinctly unprofessional behavior.
Most of the nine maps are drawn to a scale that puts them on the too-busy side, with a plethora of lines and arrows superimposed on a background of largely unnecessary topographical features. The separate sections of photographic plates are printed on glossy paper, which improves their visibility, but several photos have been over-used in the genre, and the photos are minimally credited on the plates, when better identification could have been provided in a separate section. In the back matter, the author indulges in a bit of redundant discussion of military organization, and he includes a list of abbreviations (actually acronyms) at the beginning of the extensive end notes section. An additional section includes remarks about sources and reading recommendations. The index seems to be adequate.
Disappointing, despite its heft.
Uniforms of the German Soldier: An Illustrated History from 1870 to the end of World War I.
A very nicely presented hardbound collection of many photographs with informative captions.
The Introduction provides a historical summary of the evolution of German military costume. The illustrations are divided into three sections: pre-war; colonial and overseas uniforms; and World War I. There is an extensive Bibliography and a German glossary.
The book includes a small section of colored and colorized portraits, but the uniform plates in the appendices are, disappointingly, in shades of grey, as well as being reproduced two to a page, which makes it difficult to distinguish the finer details that would be necessary to help identify photographs one may encounter during other research.
It was of limited utility for me as an amateur seeking to learn more about the photo of the young German that appears in the right sidebar of this blog (in which the shoulder boards, buttons and cuffs are difficult to see, and the accompanying scrawl is illegible even to the Germans who have looked at it).
Although no substitute for consultation with an expert when confronted with difficult identification cases, this book still makes a good addition to a research library.