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Entsiklopediya Otchesyvennoy Artillerii

Steve Zaloga

A. B. Shirokorad, Entsiklopediya Otchestvennoy Artillerii, (Minsk: Kharvest 2000), 1156 pages.

Shirokorad's long awaited history of Russian artillery is finally out, in the form of a massive encyclopedia from Harvest Publishers in Minsk. This book weighs in a 7.5 pounds, and is three inches thick! It also carries a hefty price tag going for $79.00 from Eastview, not counting postage (which is an added $20+ for air mail). Some Russian language stores in the States are starting to carry it, so prices might come down a bit. Shirokorad has been running a series of articles on Russian artillery in the magazine Tekhnika i Oruzhie, and this is the culmination of his work in this field.

The book covers Russian artillery from antiquity to the present. About half the book is pre-20th Century, the remaining 700 pages covering modern systems. The material is organized thematically, and then chronologically in catalog fashion. A total of 450 pages is devoted to army artillery, and 240 pages to naval, coastal and rail artillery. The coverage is limited to towed and fixed artillery. There is no comprehensive coverage of self-propelled artillery, though for some reason one of the super-heavy types is included. Although there are photos of multiple rocket launchers and tactical rockets like Luna, there is no coverage in the text. The book's size is in part due to the use of soft, thick paper. Reproduction quality is good, not great, and photo reproduction is adequate but not great. The book is not as heavily illustrated as one would hope for a book of this size, though there are some interesting photos and drawings included. The text is printed rather large, and the book could have been packaged to be easier to handle by using normal print size and better paper.

The contents are what one expects from Shirokorad: lots of technical detail, lots of detail on the history of the develoment of the system, and production data on many systems. There is little or no discussion of  how the weapons were deployed in theRussian/Red/Soviet army. Coverage thins out after World War 2. There is some discussion of prototype and unsuccessful projects after 1945, but not in the depth found elsewhere in the book. Coverage of recent systems is far weaker than historical systems. The book is an absolute must for any one interested in the history of Russian artillery, in spite of the price tag and excessive size.

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