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The Persian Army, 560-330 BC (Elite)
The Persian Army, 560-330 BC (Elite)
by Nick Sekunda
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A missed opportunity?, 19 May 2013
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I have recently purchased this book and I am mildly disappointed. There is no doubting the author's credentials and much of the text is thoughtfully put together. Some of the black and white illustrations and photographs are useful, and to a much more limited extent so are the coloured plates.

My chief concerns lie with the coloured plates, and also the lack of any real analysis of the composition of Persian armies during the period. Granted, information is limited, but even so the market that Osprey MAA and Elite series books are aimed at is generally the military enthusiast, and these people are always on the look out for such information.

The plates first. Many of us purchase Osprey books on the strength of the plates. The style and quality of the artists and their work varies greatly, and some is superb, some much less so. In this case, the artist seems to have a style which appears to be trying to take the stylised view of pottery paintings, with an almost dreamlike or surreal view of men at war. It is the complete antithesis of, say, the work of the late and great Angus McBride. In my view, it just does not work. The figures are effete, in some cases just downright timid-looking, and much too clean and tidy for men engaged in military operations. The reference in the plates to two hunts - both of big cats, only the Lion of which looks at all aggressive, seems to miss the point that what buyers of this book are more interested in are pictures of the Persian army at war.

The overwhelming use of purple and saffron yellow, two of the rarest and richest colours of the ancient world, is explained by the author. Whilst it may have been the case that elite and bodyguard units would have been clothed in these colours, would it really have been the case that Persian armies on campaign would be clothed in fine and expensive materials in such a profligate and wholesale way. Do we think that, say, this would have impressed enemies like the Greeks at all? Probably not, so why do it? There is an element of practicality here which is missing, and is certainly missing from the extremely stylised plates.

Worst of all must be the picture of the 'Lycean Sickle Man' in plate D. Whilst this appears to be based on a relief picture shown on page 24, the way this has been interpreted is just poor. There is not attempt to interpret a stylised relief into a practical warrior, and what we have here is a rather childish piece of artwork that should not have been allowed through the Osprey editorial process.

Finally, the lack of real analysis of the structure of Persian armies, including the huge numbers and variety of levy races and troop types, seems not to have anything like the attention that could have been devoted to this aspect. Persian armies were extremely varied and this book could have been great, but unfortunately it is let down by the points set out above.


Desert Rat 1940-43 (Warrior)
Desert Rat 1940-43 (Warrior)
by Tim Moreman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Osprey's best efforts, 5 Dec. 2012
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This is one of the best Osprey books I have come across in recent years. Given that it is only 64 pages, there is a mass of information, some very well chosen photos, and some excellent original artwork in these pages. Tim Moreman as the author and Steve Noon as the illustrator have done a fine job with a big subject here. Particularly pleasing is the way that the content concerning weapons, equipment and battles is combined here and there with information about some of the more mundane yet essential aspects of everyday living and surviving in the desert. An essential addition to the book collection of anyone interested in the War in the desert 1940-43.


M3 Lee/Grant Medium Tank 1941-45 (New Vanguard)
M3 Lee/Grant Medium Tank 1941-45 (New Vanguard)
by Steven J. Zaloga
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good book let down by poor attention to detail, 2 Dec. 2012
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This is a good overview of this important tank, but it is let down by some sloppy type-checking which seems to have remained since the first impression, which was published in 2005. The dates for the battles of Gazala and El Alamein have 'shifted' a year and are now shown as 1943, and not 1942 which is what they should be. I was astonished when I opened the book and found these errors on the first set of plates I looked at. Therefore, the captioning on plate E is wrong, as are the notes for plate E, and also the reference to the Second Battle of El Alamein on page 18. Unfortunately, these silly mistakes cause the reader to question the reliability of other parts of the book - although it is certain that the error is with Osprey as the publisher/editor, and not Mr Zaloga, who has written some superb books on AFVs and armoured warfare.


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