MMP Books, On Camera Vol.23
Staff Cars in Germany WWII, Vol. 2
MMP Books is back with another in their series of "Camera On" photographic studies of machines of war, mostly German, mostly Second World War subjects. This series of books covers a wide range of interesting subjects, and are largely made up of previously unpublished, privately taken photos sourced by the author. The books in this series are all of a similar size and format, with good production qualities seen thus far. The books all share a distinctive green colored spine, making them immediately recognizable on a book shelf.
What is interesting in particular about this series of books, is that the images are not your usual official, propaganda type photos, but were taken by the soldiers themselves. As explained by the author in his forward, this is a bit of a double edged sword, as along with interesting, fresh images, there can be some less than perfect images included as well. That said, the occasional less than perfect image of a rare or interesting subject is certainly preferable to no image at all.
The subject of this volume is Staff Cars in Germany, WWII, although to be perhaps more accurate this volume could easily have been named "Opel Vehicles used by Germany as WWII era Staff Cars" This book is wall to wall coverage of Opel cars in German service from the mid-30's through the end of WWII. To be sure, there are several different Opel models that were used, and they are to be found in this book.
Format - softcover, portrait format
Page Count - 80 pages
Size - 11.5" x 8.5"
Photos - all black and white period images
Tables / Drawings / Diagrams - none
All text and photograph captions are in English.
What's in the Book?
This volume opens with a short forward by the author describing the nature of the photographs contained in this book; that they are largely previously unpublished, sourced from private collections, and taken by regular soldiers rather than by Army photographers. He also discusses that these largely "souvenir picture for the folks back home" type of image can sometimes be less than perfect, and that imperfect images of interesting subjects are preferable to no image at all.
The forward is followed by a slightly longer introduction, where the author discusses the origins of the Opel company and its many models. There's much interesting information in this introduction, including the fact that by 1931 General Motors owned ALL shares of the Opel company.
This volume has no table of contents, but the pages (seen above) located immediately following the author's single page forward / introduction gives the reader an idea of what's covered in the book, as well as thumbnail descriptions of each of the Opel models that are covered by this book. These short blocks of text convey a good amount of information on these vehicles, in a clear, concise manner.
Although not termed as "chapters", the various types of Opel cars are grouped together, with all photos of the individual models kept together. Thus, all of the images of the P-4 model are together, all of the images of the Kadett model are together, and so on.
Above - a very interesting "chapter" covers the use of Opel P-4 cars as mock ups of tanks, something that enabled the German Army to learn how to use armored formations in late 20's and early years of the 30's without actually using tanks (that they didn't have anyway). This was made necessary by the constraints of the Treaty of Versailles. There are some really fascinating images of these pseudo tanks in this section of the book.
Above - the book has a wide range of varying images of these cars, quite a large number are similar to the standard souvenir type image where the soldier poses in a heroic stance in front of his trusty steed.
In addition to the posed souvenir style images, there are also many images of these staff cars in convoy scenes, axle deep in mud, battle damaged and many other situations.
Most images in this book are reasonably sharp and clear, and reproduce well for use in this volume. Some are not quite as sharp, perhaps a bit grainy or a bit dark. Due to the nature of this book, and the private sources for the images, it's unavoidable.
Above - Photo sizes range from quarter page sized to full page sized. The larger photos enable good study of details.
As with any book that's primarily a photographic study where text is limited, good work with photo captions is essential. The captions found in this volume are really pretty good. Most of the captions provide a good range of information on the what's, where's and when's, along with special details in the images pointed out as applicable. These captions are well written and informative.
This book is focused on the Opel staff cars in use by Germany, so don't expect to see coverage of other makes of vehicles within. For those with interest in the Opel cars, this book is a visual gold mine of images.
The photographs contained in this volume are generally of good quality, with a few being slightly less so. However, they are all of good interest.
The text and photo captions are uniformly well written and informative.
Those with particular interest in wartime Opel cars or WWII German staff cars will enjoy this book, and gladly add it to their book shelves.
Thanks to Casemate and MMP Books for the review copy
Reviewed by Chuck Aleshire, AMPS Chicagoland
AMPS 2nd Vice President, Midwest Region
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