Saturday, September 12, 2015

Review: Soviet Cold War Weaponry - Tanks and Armoured Vehicles






































So Pen and Sword have sent me a new book to review focusing on Soviet tanks and other AFVs of the Cold War period, my favorite subject! At 159 pages, Anthony Tucker-Jones' effort is quite hefty and chock full of color and black and white photos of the subject matter, many of which were new to me.






























The book is broken up into twelve chapters, each dealing with a different area of Soviet armour design: T54/55, T62/64, T-72/80, PT-76, BTR series, BMP series, airborne combat vehicles, BRDM series, SPGs, ATGM, attack helos and a general assessment of Soviet equipment in combat. Overall, I found these chapters fairly logical in their structure and the grouping decisions. I really would have preferred more time given to individual tanks, as putting the 62 and the 64 in a single chapter is a bit heretical in my humble view.






























Each chapter provides a general overview of the vehicle family it is addressing, including a light smattering of technical details, internal vehicle layout and key features and flaws. There is a brief discussion of combat history and areas of deployment. Chapters are around 10-15 pages each and heavily padded with images, so the discussion never gets overly-complicated and largely remains at the entry level to the topic throughout.





























My major critique of the book is its relative simplicity. The general approach of the book is to say a little about a lot, rather than vice versa. As such, you can be left with a feeling that a lot more could be said and that it hasn't brought much new to the table, apart from the compilation of data itself. Here, its important to note the caveat that I am likely not the target audience for it, however, as its clearly designed as an 'introductory' text to the byzantine subject of Soviet armor design. If you pick it up expecting a Zaloga, you will be disappointed. If, however, you are new to the topic (say, you are getting ready for Team Yankee) and want a nice, concise overview of the kind of new toys you will be fielding in the next few months, then this is the book for you.


5 comments:

  1. Interesting review thanks- don't think the book is for me... I'll go for the Zaolga....

    Do you think that there is a market for this entry level kind of book still (obviously Pen and Sword think that there is) given how much 'basic' info is very easily available through the 'net?

    Cheers,

    Pete.

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    Replies
    1. Yea, its an interesting dilemma. I think there will always be a place for hard copy stuff, but the text in this certainly feels mostly like regurgitated Wiki articles. Its trying to feel a niche that is already very crowded. At the same time, its nice to have a basic compilation all in the one place.

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  2. I think books like this will be killed off by wikis and the like; though it's not military related at all I've noticed far less genre film books being brought out these days than in my youth in the '90s... it has mostly gone now... miss my old horror film zines

    Cheers,

    Pete.

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    Replies
    1. As an old fashioned academic-type I still love me a good book :)

      I do use E-readers a hell of a lot these days, but I find for proper research, there's something about a physical object that really helps with the process.

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    2. In my mostly failing attempt to become an academic type I feel exactly the same as you. E readers make journal articles more useful as you don't have to print them or spend ages in the library photocopying them....

      Cheers,

      Pete.

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