First, many apologies for my absence from the blog. October has been a bit of an up and down month to say the least. I was very busy at the end of September at work, and as soon as I finished the project I was working on I caught ‘flu.
I’ve only had it once before, and I hadn’t remembered how awful it can be. It’s taken a good two weeks to get over the worst of it, and in the process I’ve had to miss a great weekend of gaming in Burton with a couple of very good friends, Simon Gaudin and Craig Ambler. Best laid plans and so forth – but all the same, I was deeply sorry I had to miss the weekend.
Laid up in bed, there’ve been few high spots of the last couple of weeks in wargaming terms. There’s not much you can do with the ‘flu other than lie in bed, as I am sure many of you know through similarly wretched experiences. However, over the last week things have been getting back to normal and I’ve been working (very slowly) on my pictish warband. More of that in the weeks to come.
I also finally managed to concentrate on a couple of books I’ve been saving for a while. One of them is Thomas Wictor’s “German Assault Troops of World War I”. This is a very lavish reference work, written by a very prominent contributor to various Great War online forums and follows his very well received first book on “German Flamethrower Pioneers of World War I”. I thought I'd take the oportunity to review it here.
As you may already have guessed, we are in somewhat specialized territory here, focusing on a numerically small but well-known part of the Kaiser’s Army. There have been a number of reputable and respected books on the evolution of the German stosstruppen in the Great War, focusing on the history and use of these formations. But few works have drawn together the volume of original photographs, extracts from contemporary military manuals and small-unit level tactical insights as Mr Wictor’s book has done. I therefore think that there’s a worthy place on the shelf for “German Assault Troops of World War I”, filling a niche that isn’t really covered by the other standard works by Professor Gudmundsson, Dr Samuels and Dr Bull.
The obvious drawback with the book is the price. As a very limited edition, the price of £55 is certainly steep, although you do get a very handsome hardbacked volume with 320 pages of genuinely new (at least to me) information and photographs. I was lucky enough to have an Amazon voucher for my birthday, which helped with the cost, but I would recommend the book for anyone interested in the subject or interested in more than the commonly available background works on the stosstruppen of the Great War.
All in all, an excellent book, if a little expensive. For those interested in the subject, a clear 5 out of 5 star-shells, with a strong recommendation for those building stosstrupp forces in 28mm.
There are some absences in the book, but these can mainly be supplemented with the other standard works on stormtroopers. One possible omission remains the interaction between the reality of wartime stormtroop operations and the immediate post-war Weimar period. I’ve been curious for some time as to the extent that a clear lineage can be traced from the stosstrupps of the Imperial German Army to the Freikorps which formed in early Weimer Germany. I’ve also thought that a study of the representation (and misrepresentation) of stormtroopers in literature, art, and propaganda in Weimar Germany would be a great subject for a book. Sadly, we’ll need to wait a little longer for such a volume. In the meantime, “German Assault Troops of World War I” should keep me busy.