Although I'm merely interested in the V2 and didn't read the author's previous work "Hitler's Rocket Soldiers," this book still seriously impressed me. I purchased my copy to try to get a better understanding of the technical details of the missile and its place in the overall context of 20th-century rocket development. Although it doesn't quite deliver in that regard, it more than makes up for it by providing an excellent overview of the construction, testing, operational use, and effects of the V2.
Finding balance in this sort of book is often difficult, and many authors choose to focus on one aspect of a particular aircraft or weapon at the expense of all others. Murray Barber has pulled off the near-impossible - providing an exceptionally well-rounded portrait of the V2 which focuses on multiple aspects of the missile without letting any one element overwhelm the other. There are chapters focusing on design and testing, how the allies slowly learned of the missile's existence and attempted to develop countermeasures against it, its use against targets in England and continental Europe, and what it was like being on the receiving end of the V2. A separate chapter focuses on the design and inner workings of the rocket. We get the perspective of the scientists and engineers at Peenemünde, the Fernraketen (rocket troops) who fired the V2 in the field, the Allied intelligence officers and aircrew tasked with unraveling the rocket's mysteries and defeating it, and of ordinary civilians in places like Antwerp and London. The use of concentration camp labor, the horrific conditions at Mittlewerk, and the SS's machinations in taking overall control of the V2 are all mentioned, but not really dwelled upon. There are, however, some disturbing images of dead bodies in the last third.
Except for a couple of spots where the text gets somewhat bogged down in extraneous detail, the book flows remarkably well despite the frequently shifting perspective. The production values are immaculate. The pages are printed on heavy, glossy paper, and there are hundreds of photographs (some in color), maps, diagrams, and organizational charts. There are a number of excellent "photo essays," one depicting each step of an operational V2 launch from railhead delivery to the moment of firing. There are also numerous specially created computer models by Mark Alloway depicting the interior arrangements of the missile and its engine, various camouflage schemes, and some of the transportation and launching hardware.
Complaints? Although the photo essays are excellent, they tend to break up the flow of the text somewhat, and probably would have been better off at the end of chapters rather than in the middle. There are some typos here and there, but nowhere near as many as have plagued some Crecy titles in the past. Some of the computer models look a bit soft, with small details like rivets and access panels hard to make out. Seriously though, these are all minor gripes. I'm not sure if this is the definitive, end-all book on the V2, but it's certainly a fascinating, lavishly illustrated labor of love, and if you have a serious interest in the subject, probably worth the somewhat steep asking price.
- Hardcover: 296 pages
- Publisher: Crecy Publishing (9 October 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1906537534
- ISBN-13: 978-1906537531
- Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 2.5 x 30.5 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 1.6 Kg
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 66,830 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)