Saturday, March 23

Dennis Oliver's book - "Viking Summer: 5.SS-Panzer-Division in Poland, 1944" review

When I think of a Viking summer I think of a movie from Sweden in the 70’s with funky music and…. Hang on - This is something different altogether! This book - "Viking Summer: 5.SS-Panzer-Division in Poland, 1944" is about the SS Viking Division and their desperate battle to stem the red army advance in Poland in 1944. Filled with pictures profiles and a whole lot of text let’s look at what comes in this book in our review.

Viking Summer: 5th.SS-Panzer-Division in Poland, 1944

Written & Illustrated by Dennis Oliver
Format: Softcover A4 portrait
34 pages
Price: £14.99
Distributed and available directly from ADH Publishing and your local (good) book seller.

Knowing a little of Dennis Oliver’s other works through his publishing company and knowing as well how highly they are prized by their owners (many are sold out and expensive on the aftermarket circuit) I was really happy to have gotten this in the post today. Sent to me by ADH publishing who now distribute Dennis’ books, it is called “Viking Summer: 5.SS-Panzer-Division in Poland, 1944”

The book is a glossy softcover in portrait A4 size. It is broken up into four main small chapters, then several coloured profiles in the middle of the book and then period pictures of these Wiking soldiers and their charges in action. I was curious to know just how do you fit this all in to such a small page count...
Though the book physically contains only thirty four pages the text in these first four chapters has got to be the most densely packed text I have seen in a book – packed in there it all is but being still able to be read by myself who is slightly visually impaired, that is a test that most everyone will still be able to read it as well. Not only is the text plentiful it is interesting as well – there are several phases in the book where actions like the 400 Soviet armoured vehicles that clashed with the Wiking division with no losses to the Panthers at Maciejow, or the many defensive battles around Warsaw. You really get to understand the nature of how these battles were fought. Thought there is a lot of detail in the writing we do not go too deep in to soldier's accounts as there is a lot of ground to cover,

The book covers the period of March 1944 till the final months of that year. The author takes us straight into the action of the Wiking division fighting around Kovel in south-eastern Poland... there are five pages packed with text of the battles the division fought. I was just getting into the story before it continued on page 10 - I suppose to aid in the layout of the book. Though if that was the only thing you could pick out that you thought was odd – well… need to get out more. The inclusion of two maps in the book are a great help - they let you understand the geography that these battles cover. In a book with many foreign words this is a good thing to include.
There are two other chapters in the book – one on the defence of Warsaw and one detailing the break-up of the machinery of the group. Again although these are small in page count they are like mini chapters in themselves. You never really go away from this book thinking you haven't enough to read.
The part that a lot of modellers will love is the section with profiles of Wiking’s machines,  there are small portrait and large landscape view profiles of not just the Panthers of Viking but also of other interesting vehicles in the Division, Stug’s, Panzer IV’s, halftrack SdKfz 251’s and even a Fieseler Storch is captured here in skilfully drawn artwork. Most of the vehicles are whether shown in pictures and in the text of the book in their crew’s exploits.
In this thirteen pages in the middle of the book there are over forty vehicles on show. This is a brilliant resource for modellers as often the pictures of the actual vehicles are next to the profile. The best type of reference there is. This style gives you some perspective of how the vehicle looked at the time and maybe – just maybe giving you some inspiration as well.
The other ace of this book is the section of nine - sometimes full size pages of pictures from this period of the summer months of 1944 in Poland. There are some rare and unpublished period photos all in black and white. Most of these I know I haven’t seen before. The pictures are great in detail for their age and the conditions they are taken in, and there are some intimately close pictures of the soldiers that are amongst the best. The text to accompany the pics is an informative and welcome addition.
Near the end of the book something for the “train spotters” - we have some tables showing vehicle types and allocations of each of the two tank battalions during 1944. These show tanks in use and in repair by type and time period.

Lastly there are some more profiles and on the last page even a model made up by a talented builder to match one of the vehicles in the book. There is your inspiration and your wakeup call – right there in print on the back!

This is the first book from Oliver publishing I have owned – and I assure you it won’t be the last – chock full of detail and great profiles and pictures – it is incredibly rich in information for a book so small but as well not too dry or dull with all of that. Well done to the author!

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to ADH Publishing who distribute this book for sending it out – it is now available from their site