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Desert Dogs

by Russ Bryant and Amy Goodpaster Strebe



Published by Motorbooks International. Soft covers, 10 x 10-inches, 144 pages, 124 color photographs. MBI order number 138616AP. Price: $19.95 USD.

Since this is the first of what one hopes will be a number of books from this publisher regarding the ongoing war in Iraq, I approached this book, from a modeler’s perspective with high hopes. Sadly, I was disappointed. But, only on that particular level. The book is really a fine study of a particular group of US Marines at work and at rest in Iraq; it is simply not what I expected, and that’s nobody’s fault but my own.

The photographs in this book are all in full color and are of excellent quality. They concentrate upon the human factor in war, and for that reason they should be of value to students of warfare. But modelers will not find many photos of the “sexy” stuff such as tanks and other AFVs between these covers.

Captions are mostly brief and simply describe what the reader is seeing. However, I did note that someone was asleep at the switch regarding the captions of a destroyed AAVP7 hulk. On page 51 where we first see this vehicle, it is stated that “Marines lost their lives as a result of a direct hit to this vehicle by an Iraqi-fired rocket-propelled grenade”. Later on page 73, the same vehicle is (obviously) depicted, but the caption, in part, states “The fate of its occupants is unknown”. Which is it?

This book may not please some because the coverage is not of a combat unit, but of a service and support unit. So, aside from HUMMERS and trucks, as well as a destroyed M1A1 and AAVP7, there are virtually no photographs of use to vehicle and AFV modelers.

Most of the photographs cover male and female Marines at work and at rest, so perhaps figure modelers will find some inspiration. Other photos show such things as the more unusual ways in which the Marines adapted to the war. In one case, pigeons, purchased for $1,200 each for a pair, are used as early-warning sensors for gas attack. Other photos show examples of “wall art” seen in formerly Iraqi-held barracks and towns, as well as copies of letters sent to the Marines’ loved ones. There is a neat selection of K9 teams at work and at rest, which may prove interesting to builders of dioramas or vignettes.

So while I can’t give a high recommendation of this book to modelers, those who simply want a fine collection of photos may wish to have a look.

Recommended with reservations.

Frank De Sisto

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