- John Walter
- ARRSE Rating
- 5 Mushroom Heads
The very word conjures up a plethora of images – ghillie suits, ridiculously long rifles, Tom Berenger in the movie “Sniper” and high velocity bullets shredding organs or smashing skulls in glorious slow motion in the rather fun “Sniper Elite” games. Trust me, until you’ve shot a German soldier in the love spuds from half a map away, watching them ripped off by a 7.62mm round; you haven’t lived.
Has there ever been a realistic depiction of what an actual sniper does? No, probably because it would entail travelling at a speed that a snail would regard tardy, for miles on end, simply to pop up, take a shot and return to start point at similarly glacial pace. It would be too dull.
What isn’t dull, is this encyclopaedia; covering everything from Ammunition to Zaytsev and all points in between.
Some of the entries are a paragraph or two long, others have a few pages dedicated to them. I remember years ago, reading a biography on Carlos Hathcock, a US Marine who served in Vietnam, barely believing his exploits. One of which was the infamous “shooting another sniper through his telescopic sights” which was mirrored in Steven Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan.”
Imagine my surprise when I found out that it was all true. Also, imagine my surprise when I found out that Russian snipers, many of them women, racked up four times as many dead as Hathcock’s count of 93 confirmed kills and Simo Häyhä, a Finnish sniper called “The White Ghost” was credited with (arguably) around 530 kills, which is astonishing.
This book covers the greatest sniping heroes of all time. Stalingrad proved to be a target-rich environment for the Soviet snipers of the period.
I will admit it: I’m a bit of a sniper groupy (a snoupy maybe?). To my mind, there isn’t a single soldier on the battlefield that can influence an outcome as much as a sniper can. He (or she) is a force multiplier, pinning down entire platoons of troops or single-handedly decimating the command and control structure of the enemy with a few well-placed shots. I’m happy to say that John Walter has written a very well-researched and thorough encyclopaedia that is easy to read, yet immersive to get lost in for hours.
Tactics, ammunition, famous kills and snipers are all covered in this volume and you can dip into it for the odd article, or like me, read it sequentially. If you have even a passing interest in the military and/or sniping, this is an excellent addition to anyone’s bookshelf. Now I just need to get John Walter’s companion book, “Snipers at War: An Equipment and Operations History.”
Right, I’m off to set up my BSA Meteor and some figure 11s in my back garden and indulge in some sniping roleplay.
5 out of 5 Mosin Nagants