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Sommers, Johann,Schiffer Publishing, Ltd.,2005 (English )

From the Publisher

This three-volume set provides the reader with an insight into the wide range of uniforms, weapons and field equipment used by the Imperial German Army during the First World War. The devastating and dramatic character of the war required many innovations in military clothing and equipment. New uniforms and adequate protection was a must, and steel helmets appeared on the battlefield, replacing the outdated spiked helmets. Even medieval-looking items, like steel breastplates and trench clubs, were produced, giving the soldiers a fearful appearance. The threat of poison gas caused the immediate development of gas masks. It was also the time of the tank, observation balloons, mine warfare, the Zeppelin, airplanes, flame-throwers, deadly machine guns, and other war machinery that saw service, sometimes for the first time. Using over 1,000 color and period photographs from private collections and museums, the author succeeds in showing a broad range of artifacts, together with full and to the point descriptions. This series is aimed towards the novice or advanced German World War I collector and enthusiast, military history student, modeller, researcher and re-enactor.

This is a very hard call. I like or maybe even love these books but I also have problems with them. Sommers tries to paint a huge canvas. with these volumes. He does things no one else does. I mean no one. His opening of Volume 1 is the best simply the best but it leaves you hungry for more. His is the only reference that ties age and service. He is the only author I know who runs errata on line.

He has about 500 pages and 1000 pictures in three huge heavy volumes. He covers everything. Perhaps he is too ambitious? While I can only address helmets it appears to be much 'showing examples'. There are lots of almost ramdom photos that I cannot determine the organization of. Simply great content but lacking Kraus' organization. The publisher could have cut this down to one volume had they better prrinting sense. I am always amazed at what I find in this work but nothing jumps at you from the organization. Just as you are about to despair Sommers' errata site enters to add more great info. Glad I bought them but you have to work for it.

There is a qualitative difference between the books published by Verlag Militaria and other publishers. Verlag Militaria books are so much higher quality. The books by Schiffers  are attractive but do not contain the quality in the narration, pictures, or research provided by Verlag Militaria.Perhaps the great lesson is this group suffered from the publisher.


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