Thursday, May 2

Read n' reviewed: "War Photographer 1.0" from Tom Cockle & Peko Publishing

Prolific author Tom Cockle has a new book soon to be released under PeKo Publishing's banner, "War Photographer 1.0" features a photo essay of German Sturmartillerist of the Sturmgeschütz-Abteilung 189's wartime shots in the first of what looks to be a new series. See more in our review...

Read n' Reviewed: War Photographer 1.0
From: PeKo Publishing
Author Tom Cockle
English language
Hardcover/  A4 Landscape format
60 Pages 
Product Dimensions: 12 x 8.5 inches (297 x 210mm)
ISBN 9786155583193
Price: €18
Peko Publishing has sent us the first in their new series called "War Photographer". This book, penned by Tom Cockle is the first of a promised series of books that gathers together various subjects from World War Two in many different selections of rare and unpublished shots and supporting text. This book and each of the subsequent volumes to come will show the reader photographs from battles, operations, vehicles or complete photo albums from soldiers who fought in world war two. 

The book in its physical form:
This book arrived in a hard cardboard book box from PeKo, inside, was the book, wrapped in shrink wrap. It is a smaller book in page number than many of the other PeKo publications, weighing in at sixty pages, and the glossy card softcover format makes it feel even thinner when first reading it. The book's dimensions are A4 (297mm X 210mm) and the landscape format of the book allows for larger photographs in their natural alignment.
The Plot:
"War Photographer 1.0" features a photo essay of German Sturmartillerist of the Sturmgeschütz-Abteilung 189's wartime shots in this first volume - and the pictures are certainly the main focus here. There is at least one picture to a page in this book, often many more so than that, about half of the pictures in the book are a larger, landscape format the size of the whole page which complements this format quite well. 
The writing from Mr Cockle is informative and relevant but unobtrusive. This man sure knows his stuff when it comes to these armoured vehicles, and it is nice to see another expert in the field getting their private collections out to the public in this format. 

You can see in this two-page spread below showing the protagonist of the book how the publishers fully use the space of the format for both tall and wide photographs.
The book shows us our main protagonist straight away and we continue to see him notated through his journey. The unknown soldier is pointed out in the first of these pictures as he and his other comrades start off their military career as part of the Reichsarbeitsdienst (Reich Labor Service or RAD) for the first six months of his service. 

You see this man and his comrades, in fresh uniforms and with fresh faces, in parade drill, in very early versions of the vehicles that will form the backbone of the Wehrmacht, which our man is soon seen in the field grey uniform of the Sturmartillerie. From Schweinfurt in 1940 and into Russia in 1941 you can see the soldier and vehicles and guns in his unit training and heading into action as the time passes.
As the book progresses the Author takes time and gives us text telling us of the peculiarities of the uniforms, the people in the shot and the vehicles and weapons displayed in the photographs. Invaluable information to the modeller and history buff on types of weapons, often the batch numbers on where they were made is something that not all of us would know before reading a book like this.  

Mostly in this part of the book early StuG III's are captured. In single photographs and sometimes, like in the case of a stuck StuG IIID, there are small series of photos depicting an event worth the extra film stock. We see the vehicles and their crews, refuelling, resting in makeshift shelters and as 1942 comes around - suffering from the first Russian winter campaign from the cold and exposure as the sows cover the ground and the once grey vehicles are whitewashed and camouflaged in white. 
As warmer weather comes, the crews and their vehicles are seen in several photographs relaxing, cooking, staying away from mosquitos, loading their tanks, performing maintenance or simply posing for photographs. Although our man is mostly out of the pictures in these shots - the many pictures of his comrades and descriptions of the finery of their uniforms and awards holds the reader's interest. 

The support vehicles for the StuGs are shown also, with everything from ammo schlepping half-tracks, Opel 1t trucks to Zundapp motorcycles in evidence and discussed in the text as to their finer points. The picture of the StuG III.E camouflaged masterfully below caught my eye - not for the skilful way the author identifies a near-invisible tank, but for the commander sitting on a bloated dead horse! (watch out for explosions!)
As the war progressed  March 1942 sees the unit equipped with long-barrelled StuG.F's, and we learn about the changes in these vehicles and their changing roles from mobile artillery to tank hunters in several pictures combined with text. As well as this we catch up with our unnamed soldier who looks not only a little older but he has several medals and pins that are explained by the author also as to their origin and reasons for being worn. We also see his comrade crewmembers (or soldiers from other tanks). 
A bit of a jump now, as we see our soldier entering officer training during the latter phases of the book. The last six pages contain shots of our man and his officer cadet comrades training and learning to use officer's tools in the field. The book talks of the uniforms, and the hints at what these mean for our soldier by the end of the book in the captions that really do add so much to these otherwise context-less images.
This is a short book, but one that is to me, less of a study of a particular tank (although StuG III fans will love the pictures particularly) but in the mission to illustrate this unidentified German Sturmartillerist of the Sturmgeschütz-Abteilung 189's it gives us a view into his life like the reading of a scrapbook. The fact that the author can bring to life the pictures and points of interest in these photos adds context and a nice little fleshing out of the story of this soldier with no name.

The pictures are great and the text tells a neat story to compliment them - this book is great for anyone who likes to see everyday shots of men and machines of the Wehrmacht Sturmartillerie during WWII.

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to PeKo for sending me this book to read and review - It is now available from the PeKo Publishing website or from their distributors worldwide.