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Every book, in our opinion, deserves a lengthy and studious review. Unfortunately, we're not able to review every book that arrives here, and of the ones we do review, we can't always provide as much detailed information as we'd like. The brevity of these notes is due to the shortage of man-hours here, not a reflection of any flaws in these four titles. All four are oversized (approximately 8.5" x 11"), heavily illustrated, and mostly focus on specific combat units.
Wikberg, Olli. Dritte Nordland. Helsinki: Wiking-Divisioona Oy, 2001.
Author Olli Wikberg collaborated with Kari Kuusela on Wikingin Suomalaiset in 1996. (The author tells us the original is "...sold out, and there are no plans to reprint it again. This [is a] totally new and more accurate book....") The topic here is the samethe Finnish volunteer battalion of the SS Nordland Division. The approach here is also much the same as the first book. The Preface and Introduction (in Finnish and English) amount to about five pages (in each language) followed by more than 200 pages of black-and-white photographs captioned in Finnish and English. Like the first book, these are not battle scenes. While some of the photos show heavily-armed troops at the front, for the most part these are casual snapshots of off-duty soldiers in quiet sectors, rear areas, training camps, and in transit. Soldiers are seen playing cards, boxing, eating lollipops, or just relaxing more often than they're shown holding weapons. For fans of the "photo album" genre of WWII history, this would make an interesting addition to any collection.
Munoz, Antonio J. (Editor) The East Came West: Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist Volunteers in the German Armed Forces, 1941-1945. Bayside, NY: Axis Europa Books, 2001.
Tony Munoz's Axis Europa Books has been publishing books and magazinessome of the material written by Munoz, some by other authorsfor many years, but this is his most ambitious project yet. With chapters written by five contributors (including Munoz himself) covering an array of fascinating and little-known forces, the sum amounts to a very hefty volume which in appearance and physical quality more than matches anything previously done by AE. Part One is "Muslim and Hindu Volunteers in German Service" by Oleg Valentinovich Romanko. Part Two contains "Hindu and Muslim Indian Volunteers in the Italian and German Army and the Waffen SS" by Martin J. Bamber, "Paper Tigers: The 950th Indian Infantry Regiment" by Munoz, and "Indochinese Volunteers in the German Army," also by Munoz. Part Three contains "Lebanese Volunteers in the German Army" by Moustafa Assad, "The Moslem Legion of the Sandzack" by H. L. deZeng, and six more chapters by Munoz on Kalmyck volunteers, the "Kaukasicher-Waffen-SS-Verband der SS," Tartar volunteers, Arab volunteers, the 13th SS Division, and "Albanian Collaborationist Militia." As might be expected with so many authors and so many topics, the quality and level of detail varies, but overall this will be welcomed by anyone with an interest in obscure Axis units.
Anzuoni, Robert P. The All-American: An Illustrated History of the 82nd Airborne Division. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Military History, 2001.
Turning to American forces, this unit history of the 82nd Airborne covers the division from its origins through the year 2000. WWII is treated in about 65 pages, while other chapters cover WWI and post-WWII action in Vietnam, Desert Storm, etc. Each chapter opens with a few pages of text, then offers a selection of photos (some in color) and captions. Most interesting for anyone who wants an overview of the division as a whole, or a glimpse of some of the more recent deployments such as Kosovo. Less useful for readers specifically interested in World War II.
Petty, Bruce M. (Editor) Saipan: Oral Histories of the Pacific War. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc, 2001.
Where the other books discussed here are basically unit histories, this one is a collection of oral histories about war in the Pacific. Despite the title, the book encompasses Yap, Tinian, Rota, Guam, and the Paulau Islands as well as Saipan itself. Almost forty contributors offer their memories, mostly in the range of 4-8 pages. The contributors include native islanders and American marines, soldiers, sailors, and airmen who assaulted their Japanese-held islands. Contributions from the islanders are divided into chapters according to the island on which they lived, while the American accounts are organized according to branch of service. The editor also provides historical background of the islands and their place in the war. Some very thoughtful and moving accounts, many with "then and now" photos. Nicely done and sure to appeal to anyone who likes oral histories.
All of these books are available from online booksellers, local bookshops, or directly from the publishers.
Reviewed 13 January 2002
Copyright © 2002 by Bill Stone
May not be reproduced in any form without written permission of Stone & Stone
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