Atlas of the European Campaign 1944-45
by Steven J. Zaloga
Osprey Publishing and noted military historian and prolific author Steven Zaloga have teamed up to bring World War II buffs this massive volume of maps that take the reader from the D-Day landings all the way into Germany at the war’s conclusion; 11 months of bitterly fought operations and battles that raged across Western Europe. The maps are accompanied by text by Mr. Zaloga, who is of course a very highly regarded and well known author, historian and modeler.
This book is a companion volume to Osprey’s Atlas of the Eastern Front: 1941-45, which was first published in January, 2016.
This large volume is contained within a sturdy cloth covered slipcase to protect it. The slipcase has a gold colored silk ribbon to assist in removing the book from the case, a nice touch. Overall, a very nice presentation.
What’s between the Covers?
Format - Hardbound ( slipcase included ) heavyweight paper, portrait format
Page count - 280 pages, heavyweight paper.
Size - 9.75” x 12”
Photos - Black and White full page images at the beginning of each chapter
Tables / Drawings / Diagrams - Maps.....lots of maps...a whopping 127 of them in fact.
Table of Contents
The Table of Contents shown in the three images above should tell you something...FOUR pages to list the contents of this volume!
As can be seen, the layout of this book is very simple and logical. The European Campaign of 1944-45 is broken down into an Introduction and followed by six chronological chapters; beginning with pre - D-Day covered in the Introduction ( with five maps of it’s own ), and then the chapters roll from the D-Day landings all the way into Germany at the conclusion of the war. Each chapter has varying numbers of maps contained within it, according to the actions covered by the chapter.
A legend is provided at the front of the book to assist the reader in interpreting what he’s seeing on the maps. This legend is simple but effective, covering types of units depicted, unit sizes, physical topography and other features such as unit boundaries / areas of operation.
Finally, another item conveniently located at the books beginning is a Glossary and listing of Abbreviations of Allied and German terms, which is quite useful in a book of this nature.
Above is an example of how the individual Chapters are opened, with a nice full page photograph appropriate to the chapter’s content. In this case, it’s a well known, stunning view of the Ludendorff railway bridge at Remagen. While the focus of this volume is clearly on it’s maps, great images like the one above are always appreciated.
All of the 127 maps throughout the book are accompanied by a facing page of text by author Steve Zaloga. This text gives the background on what the maps are depicting; being complete and thorough, while still being quite “readable”. The author’s ability to do that serves this book very well.
The maps contained in this volume are laid out in both portrait and landscape formats, with a majority being laid out in landscape format such as the one shown in the above image. This means that you’ll be rearranging the book on your lap from time to time as you examine the maps.
Above is an example of a map aligned in portrait mode ( and it just happens to be the final map in the book ).
The scale and scope of the maps varies of course, according to what is being shown. Some maps are depicting action at Corps or Army level, covering hundreds of miles, and some maps are depicting actions by smaller units on smaller areas. Above is seen a map of the western ( Omaha and Utah ) landing beaches on D-Day.
In my opinion, the scale of the maps in this volume are overwhelmingly well chosen to show what’s intended by the author, and the level of detail ( units, physical landscape / topography, etc. ) on the maps strike a very good balance between enough detail and too crowded.
For the most part, this book concerns itself mostly with land based units, although as seen in the above image, there are times when naval or air assets are shown as appropriate.
Above - one of the more “intimate”, smaller scale maps, this one showing the opening acts of the 101st Airborne division during it’s jump into Holland in support of Operation Market Garden.
Maps like the above can sometimes provide real “a-ha” moments. Such as my never really grasping that the 101st dropped NORTH of Eindhoven and moved south to it. This, despite my reading several books on Market Garden, and driving that stretch of road. So...lesson learned.
One final image of one of the 127 maps included in this volume, this one showing the southern flank of the Ardennes Offensive during it’s opening stages, showing the German surge across the Our river from Germany into US positions in Luxembourg. In the case of this map, units are shown down to company sized.
This book deserves a place in every single library of every single person with interest in the European Theater of Operations during World War II. It’s just that simple ( and that good ).
The physical quality of this presentation is of a very high standard. The slipcase to protect and preserve the book is a nice touch, as are the silk ribbons to pull the book from it’s case and serve as a place mark in the book itself. But those attributes aren’t the real reasons this book should be in every ETO aficionado’s library..it’s what in between the book’s covers.
THE MAPS - as mentioned above, these maps are uniformly scaled to just the right size to clearly show the actions at hand, with good detail and yet being clear and uncrowded. The maps are only as complex as needed to clearly show what’s going on, without confusing the reader needlessly. The maps give in some cases, a real feeling of a birds eye view of the action going on in them, provided the reader have just a bit of imagination.
THE TEXT - the accompanying text is clear, crisp and concise, just enough to give the reader a good, solid background on what’s being shown by the maps. Remember, many if not all of the operations or battles shown on the maps have been the subject of a great many books and articles. To boil down the pertinent information to a single page of text for each map, and make it better than “just basic, bare bones” takes a skilled author and historian.
Osprey and the author have done themselves proud with this volume.
Highly Recommended! ( A Must Have for WWII European Campaign fans )
Thanks to Osprey Publishing for the review copy
Reviewed by Chuck Aleshire, AMPS Chicagoland
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