The Sniper Encyclopeadia...
...An A-Z Guide to World Sniping, from Greenhill Books
Title: The Sniper Encyclopaedia
Author: John Walter
Publisher: Greenhill Books
The subject of Snipers has been a popular one over the years, taking on the topic from a number of angles. The author had previous written 'Snipers at War: An Equipment & Operations History'. This new one grew from that, and the author gives a good explanation in his introduction.
The 306-page hardback is arranged in an A-Z sequence, so the various topics within it are mixed together. Entries go from the period of the American Civil War, when marksmen, or 'woodsmen' made their skills useful. Rifled guns that helped accuracy, and later the advent of one-piece ammunition all helped improve the accuracy of rifles for snipers. In the early days those rifles were largely selected from standard issue weapons, but particularly accurate one, or with slight adaptations. At the start of WW1 the idea of sniping was considered 'ungentlemanly' by many, but this faded as trench warfare was established.
So the book expands to look at a host of individual snipers from countries all around the world, the different manufacturers of sniping rifles, and just how good they were. These go back to the early British Baker Rifle and on to the modern weapons of the present day. They also include the heavier calibre Anti-materiel Rifles, capable of taking out a truck or lightly armoured vehicle. Other vital ingredients of the snipe role includes ammunition developments and of course the optics they are provided with. So all these topics are featured, along with training, tactics and the details of so many individual sniper specialists. Add a number of 'Top Twenty' lists, background to the many manufacturers as well as over 400 individual biographies and a lot of photos to illustrate the stories.
It can be hard to differentiate a 'sniper' and a 'marksmen', as no matter what the weapon/ammunition/optics being used, it still needs the skill of a man to be an expert shot. Aided by modern equipment, kills have been recorded at ranges of 2,000 yards and more. Sniping is a skill, but it can have severe psychological effects on some with PTSD, and I suspect there have been many who would never want to publicise their role. It reminded me of a story my father told me. He joined the army at the end of 1939. He had been a keen shot doing game shooting, an interest he carried on through to his old age. During basic training, he was on a rifle range and put the first three rounds from a .303 into the bull. The instructor commented that he would make a good sniper if he carried on like that. Oddly enough, every remaining shot missed the target altogether, so that was the last he heard of the idea.
An interesting encyclopaedia, and a very useful single reference not just for the many snipers who have excelled over the years, but the weapons, tactics, ammunition and optics that have been developed over the years by nations all around the world.
Thanks to Pen and Sword for this review copy.