Friday 6 August 2021

Book Review: The Assault Platoon of the Grenadier-Company

The Assault Platoon of the Grenadier-Company November 1944 German Army Pamphlet - Merkblatt 25a/16 is the second book by Bernard Kast (Military History Visualized) and Christoph Bergs (Military Aviation History). Much like their first bookThe Assault Platoon of the Grenadier-Company is a translation of a German tactical pamphlet, but on a closer look it's a lot more than that.

Same as their first book, both the original German text and English translation are provided side by side. This book does not merely offer a translation, but also an interpretation of the original text. Since the German language and military terminology are not the same today as they were in the 1940s, footnotes are provided to notify the reader of the changes. There are also some concepts or terms that the original reader would have been expected to be familiar with, but a modern reader is not likely to know. Those are also explained either in the footnotes or in the glossary. Any potential ambiguities that could have arisen in a translation to English are also explained in footnotes. All diagrams were redrawn from the originals, and text is presented in both German and English. 

Even though the subtitle of the book is German Army Pamphlet - Merkblatt 25a/16, only one chapter of the book is dedicated to the translation of this pamphlet. The reader is also presented with a number of supplements mentioned in pamphlet 25a/16, including a similar pamphlet for the SMG platoon of the grenadier company, march and formation manual, battle plan, firing exercises, and instructions for close combat, all of which contain relevant excerpts from other German pamphlets. There are also several chapters written from scratch by the authors: legends for unit and map symbols, a glossary, an overview of the predecessors of the StG 44, and an illustration of the weapon and its components. The book ends with a lengthy bibliography, showing just how much effort was put into making sure that the reader had the full context when going through the manuals provided.

The book consists of 134 pages provided in both German and English as well as about a dozen pages for the introduction, acknowledgements, and bibliography, which are printed in English only. The result is some 280 pages of some of the most detailed content on German infantry combat that I've seen to date. This review is based on the hardcover Supporter Edition. The print quality is high and the binding is sturdy. I have no reason to believe that other versions of this book are not likewise high in quality.

A similar hardcover copy can be had for $47.30 USD, a softcover copy is available for $29.60 at time of writing.

Fans of this format can also preorder the third book by Kast and Bergs Stuka: The Doctrine of the German Dive Bomber here.

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