The growth of self publishing and print on demand has opened up the market to books that are so niche as to never be picked up by mainstream publishers. This can be a mixed blessing as there is certainly a lot of rubbish out there, made up of rehashed Wikipedia articles, being sold as scholarly works. Happily the subject of today’s review is not one of those and is a welcome addition to the bookshelves.
Daniele Piselli is an Italian author who has recently published “Mk II Helmets of the Second World War and their use in the Italian Campaign.” The Italian Campaign is largely forgotten today, but was a large, multinational campaign fought up the length of Italy to expel the Germans and Fascists from power. The remains of this campaign litter the country to this day and much of this book is based around helmets left in the country after the fighting ended.
Despite its title and definately having an Italian focus, there is much in this book that is of value to all collectors of British and Empire Mk II helmets including detailed analysis of the shells, liners, chin straps, nets and decoration that can be found on these helmets and this is the first time I have seen this level of detail included in a book- it will certainly make identfication of Mk II helmets much easier going forward. I found the analysis of different field expedient repaints of the helmets and how they could be tied into different, specific theatres of the Italian campaign fascinating and something I had not been aware of before- some excellent research has gone into this book.
If the book reminds me of anything it is of Oliver Lock’s book, British Painted Steel, however Daniele’s book feels like it has more ‘meat’ to it, there is more data, more analysis and a better explanation of the helmets in question- it is a far more satisfying book in every sense. Added to this the production values for a self-published book are excellent with full colour, heavy weight paper and glossy printing making it feel like a quality work.
It is worth noting that this book was first written in Italian and then translated into English. I don’t know if a translator was employed or a piece of software, but there are some odd and clunky phrases in the book where the translation has been a bit clumsy. These do not affect the readability of the book and certainly compared to some of the translations from French that Histoire and Collections have used in their books, this is nothing to worry about!
This book is certainly specialist and will not appeal to all, if you have a passion for helmets however then its an essential addition to the bookshelf. Copies can be ordered directly from the author himself by dropping him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and the book costs 36 Euros plus shipping.
My father served in the U.S. Army in WWII and was captured in Italy. He was then held as a POW in Germany for almost a year, not far from where I was stationed when I was in the army 20 years later. So, not only was the Italian campaign not forgotten, it was almost all that was remembered.
Regarding translations, I have noted similar things in a couple of book translated from French to English. I imagine there are words that don’t translate neatly because the terms are different.