Monday, April 23, 2018

Book Review: The Iran-Iraq War, Volumes 1 and 2

Pictures taken from Hellion Publishing Website

The Iran - Iraq War, Volumes 1 and 2, The first volume covers the period of September 1980 to May 1982 and the second covers June 1982 - December 1986. (There is a Volume 3 and 4).
Author: Tom Cooper, E. R. Hooton and Farzin Nadimi
Publisher: Hellion and Company, 2016
Dimensions: 8.5 x 11"
Cover: Soft Cover
Pages: 80pp

I really wanted to like these books. I did. While they are chock full of wonderful insights on the Iran-Iraq War in particular, and a good idea of what two nations unprepared for war with limited resources looks like in general, the books had a lot of issues that really overall, detracted from my reading experience.

First, the good. As I said, the insights found in the books are quite interesting. The extent to which Saddam really didn't have a plan as to how he was going to accomplish his war aims (and even have any really well-defined war aims to accomplish) was startling. It seems the Iraqis stumbled into this being the wider conflict it ended up being.

The Iraqi army wasn't really ready for war either, as it's way of taking an objective was a slow advance while blasting the snot out of a random portion of desert with copious amounts of artillery because said ground was the day's objective. Guderian they weren't.

Meanwhile, the Iranian army was even worse off in 1980 than can be believed, whole units were understrength, and the mullahs really didn't care, as they saw it as a means to prevent a coup, once the war broke out, it is well known they were grabbing military experience anywhere they could find it, including the jails (who were filled with politically suspect officers still loyal to the Shah).

Another interesting thing. The human wave assaults by Iran that we saw in the West became more nuanced over time. How much nuance that really was is arguable, but it seems that the Revolutionary Guards (who were the primary practitioners of said tactics) got better at their execution of such tactics.

Another surprise on the Iranian part, the slow response of the Army. While the Air Force, and even the Navy, as well as the Rev, Guards responded to eventually put up a ferocious defense Khorrmansharr, the Army was mostly not involved in the initial fighting in any real strength. It also had an interesting look at the fact both air forces spent more time either bombing the enemy homeland, or engaging each other, than supporting the army, which fell to the helicopter forces on both sides.

The not so good about these books? Well, for starters, Volume 1 was, from an editing standpoint, a train wreck. Often, when a range of numbers was quoted, like "500-1,000" the dash was often omitted so the numbers often looked like this "5001,000". It's a minor error, to be sure, but it was consistent throughout the book. There was several glaring errors with the photo captions, especially with regards to tank types, which, considering Hellion's status as a publisher of military history, should be a little bit embarrassing. Volume 2 does clean up a number of these errors, but both volumes suffer from the authors going off on tangential topics that at times had me going on like "What the hell was the point of this?"

Also, I think the MSRP for the books are a bit high at $35.00. I got mine at $24.95 in the bargain bin at a wargaming convention. It's taken me a year to read them properly for a review.

It's not so much that the books are's that they could have really been so much better.

But, where does it come into play for a Twilight: 2000 miniatures gamer? For starters? If you're doing an RDF based game or two set in the the area around Bandar-y-Khomeini - Khormansharr, and Avhaz, the terrain write-ups in the books are damn useful. It gives you an idea of what the terrain is like there, as well as the terrain further west in the Iraqi regions around the Shatt Al Arab.  This is also useful for roleplayers as well.

Also, if you're doing RDF based miniatures games, the color plates are useful, as it gives you an idea of what Iranian and Iraqi equipment would look like. The climate, and the terrain isn't the Arabian desert with unrelenting sand. It's more lots of hills and sand, with some marshland to the west, and that's going to a) create a different look to the vehicles, and b) be a very different war.

So, to sum up, I gotta give both books 3 out of 5 mushroom clouds, there's value there, but I gotta admit, they're a bit overpriced for what you get IMO, and the editing could have and should have been better, especially in the first book.

1 comment:

Featured Post

Twilight 2000, The Look on the Tabletop, Part 1, Vehicles

Twilight: 2000 is in some ways, a unique post-apocalyptic experience, it isn't quite Mad Max, it isn't quite Gamma World, or for tha...