We import a great deal from North America and a big chunk of it is language to mix up our lovely Old World vernacular. Some it, such as “like” I definitely do not, er…like. While other words, like, “awesome” have become so overused we find them applied to the intensely ordinary.

With this book I find myself in the position of having to reach across the pond for the apt use of the overused, for this book is most definitely awesome. Fair play.

A Stackpole Books product, it is a Canadian-US alliance bringing together a truly wonderful collection of images from the first months of madness of Hitler’s bonkers Barbarossa. The photographs are all entirely new to me, and the pleasure of browsing the pages is something you can enjoy again and again. The small colour section is, it seems, typical of American books, firmly aimed at collectors of militaria. There is absolutely nothing to criticise about this book from first to last and I would imagine it would offer inspiration to re-enactors and model makers alike. The captions are excellent.

The photos in this book all appear to originate from German cameras, official or otherwise. Some of the photos show an exuberance only offered by victory and some bring the sadness that we know comes from the clash of Titans. It’s easy to wax lyrical about the Great Patriotic War because it’s pretty much all been written and the influences and clever prose are all out there. It seems to me, however, that thousands of photos are still to be seen. The people who tease them out of hiding do us all a service.

The quality of reproduction is first class and the range of subject matter, broken down into infantry, armour, vehicles, artillery and so on, is so good that it could go on forever. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. My favourite chapter is the one for Soviet armour, inevitably showing abandoned or destroyed vehicles. The lumbering KV2s are my favourites, a link to Tamiya kits of a bygone youth. It brings on smiles and memories of a silly afternoon shooting a lot of knackered tank models up with a BB gun when it was time to put away “childish things” – as the rhyme goes. I digress…again.

Whatever way you sent your childhood models to Valhalla, this book will keep your grown up interest in military history in full focus. It is the best photographic book I’ve had for review since I got the gig with WHO. More please!

 Mark Barnes

By Michael Olive and Robert Edwards
Published in hardback by Pen & Sword Military £19.99
ISBN: 978 1 84884 867 2



Mark Barnes

Mark Barnes is a longstanding friend of WHO, providing features, photography and reviews. He has contributed to The Times of London and other publications. He is the author of The Liberation of Europe (pub 2016) and If War Should Come due later in 2020.