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Book Review

"Special Forces Vehicles: 1940 to the Present Day-

Rare Photographs from Military Archives"

 

By Andy Renshaw- Archer, Florida USA

 

 

Basic Item Information

Title

Special Forces Vehicles: 1940 to the Present Day - Rare Photographs from Military Archives

Author

Pat Ware

Publisher

Pen & Sword (Images of War Series)

ISBN Number

978-1-84884-642-5

Media

Soft Cover Book 

Number of Pages

128 

Number/Type of Photos

150 Black/White Images

Text Language

English 

Retail Price

$24.95 

Reviewer

Andy Renshaw 

Review Date

October 31, 2019 

Photos

                          

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Detailed Review

Of all the military vehicles in existence, those used by Special Forces or para-military groups always seem to be popular subjects.  No doubt this is due to the diversity of vehicle types and legends surrounding each unit.  Add to that some of the unusual modifications, upgrades, plethora of weaponry fixed at every corner, and an overabundance of stowed gear during operations and a plain stock utility truck suddenly becomes a source of wonder and inspiration.  So when a book appears that attempts to tackle the subject of Special Forces vehicles, especially with a subtitle containing the words “Rare Photographs”, our expectations get set as high as the men who use the vehicles themselves.  However expectation should always be aligned with the mission, so beyond the cover, was the "mission accomplished" in 128 pages?

First Glance

First of all, the overall book is very well printed, with solid binding, clear photos, and its size is “just right” in overall dimensions without being a monster to lug around or have conveniently stashed at your favorite reading spot.  Spine text is very legible, and easy to spot, a must for those of us searching in the midst of an ever growing library collection.   Diving into the text, it is well written and easy to read, as one would expect from Pat Ware who has a good number of titles under his belt as well as being the founding Editor of “Classic Military Vehicle” magazine.  Photos are all in black and white, including more recent photos from various defense organizations, but serve the minimum purpose of illustrating the text. 

Content

Diving into the content itself, the author starts out with a brief background of the role of Special Forces in both current and historical conflicts.  This is then followed by short descriptions covering some specific Special Forces units.  Units from around the globe including Belgium, France, Australia, Great Britain, and the US are listed.  At this point I had to take a pause.  Among the SEALs, Green Berets, and SAS, the author tosses in the entire US Marine Corps as a “special forces” example.  Flattering of course, and many of us Marines would smile at the reputation formed, but it does a disservice to those Marines in United States Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC). That unit was formed in 2006, many years before this books first printing. So if the reader is hoping to see something covering vehicles within MARSOC over the last decade, they will be disappointed.  Some pass could be given if there was a mention of Force Recon or the reformed Raider Regiment, but they are not covered in the book.  This oversight continues within the photographic coverage, where the liberal application of “special forces” to the entire Marine Corps allows for the inclusion of photos showing any USMC vehicle, including M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank, LAV, and standard Humvees. 

After the overview of “Special Forces”, the author spends a few pages discussing equipment carried on the vehicle, specifically using a SAS “Pink Panther” Land Rover to note particular items.  He even provides a paragraph providing the history of the pink paint.  What is covered in the last half of the book is an overview of some other vehicles, with more pages spent on the Land Rover, including Series I and II, Defender, Wolf, Australian MC2 and MC2HD.  Others given several pages include the Chenowth LSV, Emerson FAV, Engesa EE-VAR, and Jackal among others.  Jeeps are covered with a few archival photos we probably have all seen before, mixed in with a couple from reenactors.  The AM General Humvee is given several pages, but only one photo shows special forces kit; the others covering standard issue vehicles, some with the later armor packages.  The last pages of the book wrap up with a few paragraphs for all the “other” vehicles which did not have photographs included.  This includes a mere few sentences mentioning the M151 FAV and use of Toyota 4x4 trucks.  With that, the book ends, the last photo being a USMC M1A1 Abrams.

Overall Impression

So, was the "mission accomplished"?  I honestly think this book fell a bit short of my expectations due to the allocation of photo space to covering non-special forces vehicles. As for “Rare Photographs from Military Archives” there may be a few rare ones, but most of the photos provided were fairly common.  In addition, out of the 128 pages, about half take the reader through specific vehicles, while the rest were used to provide overviews and histories of Special Forces units. A large proportion of photos are provided by vehicle manufacturers, or cover reenactors or training.  However, there is a sprinkling of ‘in theater’ pics of the various vehicles covered, but those are limited in number.  While the book has a nice broad overview, and hits on major types of special forces vehicles, the title is a bit of a letdown, especially as there is no photo coverage of many common or popular vehicles (e.g. 4x4 "Technicals", LMTV “War Pig”, etc.).   

Final Verdict

This book does photographically cover Special Forces vehicles to a large extent, and even provides some basic information about them. Thusly it is a good, general guide to this type of vehicle if that is what the reader is looking for.  However, if the reader has a specific vehicle, or nation in mind they desire to know about in great detail, this reference may not be to their expectations.

Thanks to 
Casemate Publishers for the Review Sample.
 
 
Copyright: Andy Renshaw - October 2019