I have to say here that I was not familiar with Concord Publications. When I received the book, it struck me that it was similar in concept to the old Squadron/Signal titles in concept, that is mainly photographs, with accompanying captions. Such material really stands or falls on how well the captions are written, as a vague or incorrect caption will to some extent negate the value of the photograph. The other thing I probably ought to mention is that I have a fairly large reference library of my own, built up over many years, which may colour my perceptions (I hope not!).
Details: (6513) SOLDAT (2) The German Soldier on the Eastern Front 1943-1944
is published within the 'Warrior' series and is written by Gordon Rottman with color plates by Stephen Andrew. The book consists of 52 Pages with 135 photos and 4 Color Plates. The ISBN is 962-361-104-8
. Those of you who are familiar with Concord Publications will probably know what to expect, for the rest of us I'll go through the layout of the book, which is a 52 page card-backed volume. The title suggests that there is a volume 1 presumably covering 1941-42, and possibly a volume 3 covering 1944-5.
The book starts off with a 3 page introduction which gives a (very) brief update on the situation on the Eastern Front in 1943. It then goes on to outline the organisation of a typical German Infantry Division, and a Grenadier Regiment during the period covered, including a listing of the heavy or crew-served weapons available, and their employment within the organisation. While this is of necessity quite short, and the information is available in greater detail elsewhere, I think this widens the book's appeal, and helps to set the scene for the following pictures.
Naturally, these make up the majority of the 52 pages, and appear two or three to a page. They don't appear to be in any particular chronological order, although the winter/snow scene ones are all at the front. I did recognise a few "old stagers", but to be fair that's hardly surprising, given the size of my library (or is it my age?), and it must be said that they are used to illustrate important items of uniform. On the other hand, most of them are new to me at any rate. As the title suggests, the vast majority of them show soldiers in action or at rest, so while there are some vehicles illustrated, there are very few, and those shown are really specifically infantry-related. Likewise, although there are a couple of pictures of the Waffen SS (one very well known), if you are specifically looking for SS photos, you won't really find them here.
All the important infantry uniforms of the period appear in one or more photographs, including the Special Winter Clothing, greatcoats etc. The main absentee is the M1944 "battle-dress style", but this is probably just outside the scope of the book. Surprisingly few show the "retreat gaiters" as the ankle boot and gaiter combination were termed by the Landser; or the Einheitsfeldmutz.
In terms of quality, generally the photos vary. There are a few slightly "fuzzy" ones but this is acceptable since these tend to be the "in action" shots. The majority are really rather good, and the captions are concise and informative (although the top two on page 44 are transposed!). I particularly liked the picture showing a team of men dragging a light ant-tank gun up a snow covered slope, and the canvas dummy tank - I'm confident these will appear shortly as dioramas, along with several of the other shots!
Something I really liked about the captions was the inclusion of the soldiers slang names for various items of equipment, very pithy in many cases. There's something very "human" about this, which dry histories tend to forget.
Four very well executed colour plates are in the centre, showing the standard M1942 uniform, the field grey assault-gun clothing, the Heer camouflage smock, and the Winter clothing.
Basically, you get what it says on the tin. If you are after photos of tank crews or SS troops, this is of little appeal. It doesn't list the ranks of "das Heer" or the Waffenfarbe etc (athough badges are explained where they feature in the photos), so it's not a primer on the Wehrmacht either. However, if you are looking for diorama ideas, or a general view of what the German soldier looked like in action, there is plenty for modellers.