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Helion- The Chaco War 1932 - 1935 Fighting in the Green Hell

ISBN Number:
Saturday, November 21, 2020
Helion and Company
Retail Price:
Reviewed By:
James Spellmire


The Chaco War 1932-1935

Fighting in the Green Hell

by Antonio Luis Sapienza & Jose Luis Martinez Pelaez


This is the 20th installment of Helion & Company's Latin America @ War series, and complements the earlier published The Chaco Air War, 1932-1935.  This issue details the ground war between Paraguay and Bolivia that resulted in definitive boundaries of each nation regarding the Chaco territory that had been in dispute since each country emerged from Spanish colonial roots in the early 1800's. 

Vital Statistics:

Format - softcover, portrait format.

Size - 12.0" x 8.25".

Page Count - 72 pages of heavyweight, glossy paper.

Chapters: Seven chapters of well written text (in English) that includes: 246 black and white pictures, 13 color illustrations, and 11 maps.


Also included are ten appendices with detailed listings of Commanders, Army Units, Equipment and War Material Captured for each country.  

A brief look inside:


Table of contents


Typical page with text and period photos


Pictures of period illustrations


Color plates of vehicles


Color plates of combatants


Battle maps


Typical appendix page listing equipment


Acknowledgements and biographies of the authors.



As most books written about a military conflict, the authors present the events in chronological order with a brief introduction giving the reader a solid historical pretext of this war. All of the major characters are well described, as well as minor players:

"Everything had to be done on foot using a path in the thick forest that was no more than a metre wide.  This path had previously been patrolled by Sergeant Julio Sosa and his men to determine its suitability."

Each battle is well described, including planning and anticipated results, units and commanders involved, the order of battle, and actual results. Intermixed with the accounts are anecdotal notes that make reading lively rather than a dry recount of what happened:

"On 28 September, in the sector of the Paraguayan 2nd Regiment 'Ytororo' to the west of the fort, Captain Vasili Oregrief Serebriakoff - a volunteer White Russian serving in the Paraguayan Army - led what is considered one of the most epic assaults of the war: a frontal attack with the 3rd Battalion against the Bolivian fortified line.  Soldiers form other battalions also joined the fiercely executed charge.  Serebriakoff arrived a machine gun nest, pistol in hand, and fell mortally wounded.  His men remembered that he uttered some prophetic words that very morning, saying, 'it is a nice to day to die'."

For armor fans, there is a complete account of the five AFVs that participated in the war, all Bolivian.  Several period pictures are included, as well as three color plates. Post war history of the surviving tanks is also included (eg., one of the Vickers tanks captured by Paraguay was sold after the war to Republicans fighting in Spain's Civil War.)


I found this book to be very informative and enjoyable to read.  Unlike other books written by foreign authors, this text was not translated.   It was written originally in English with all the proper syntax.   The only annoyance, and it is a slight one, is that all of the battle maps are collectively located after the color plates and not on the pages describing each battle.  To fully comprehend the movements of troops, I had to flip pages back and forth between the text I was reading and the corresponding map.  However, there are plenty of pictures interspersed for those of us who enjoy visual references in addition to reading the typed word. 

Highly Recommended for all military historians, especially those  with an interest in the Americas or the pre-war years. 

Thanks goes out to Casemate for this review issue.

Reviewed by James Spellmire, SoCal AMPS


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