Book Review Bren Gun Carrier - Robert Jackson

Discussion in 'Books, Films, TV, Radio' started by von Poop, Nov 7, 2019.

  1. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Bren Gun Carrier.
    Britain's Universal War Machine.
    Robert Jackson.


    Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
    Series: Land Craft
    Pages: 64
    Illustrations: 200
    ISBN: 9781526746436
    Published: 7th October 2019

    Another in the Land Craft series hits the doormat.

    Not everyone has Nigel Watson's excellent 3 volume set on Carriers to hand he said, smugly, & they've apparently reached stratospheric second-hand prices, so there should always be a place for more publications on this frankly fascinating machine.
    I know the series is aimed specifically at modellers, and this one probably hits a mark on that, but it's a bit thin when compared to some others in the Land/Tank Craft series.

    Mr J seems to be a prolific author, mostly on Aviation stuff. Can't comment on the quality there, but this feels a bit like a jobbing writer being shipped in to make a book, rather than someone with a real appreciation of the subject.

    The history & variants sections are pretty sketchy (a page of the two pages on development devoted to the Bren Gun), and if it weren't for some very pleasing Computer-generated 3D views the 'In Detail' segment could be dismissed as 'Seven photographs & no real detail'.

    We've got those weird 'MS Paint' illustrations in the Camo & Markings section, which essentially tells you 'they were mostly green &/or black, though the Germans had more imagination & Caunter is possible'. How you can do a modelling book on Carriers & not have one illustrated anywhere in Malta Stone Wall is really quite puzzling.

    The 'In Service & In Action' section is more thorough, and quite well-illustrated, though there's nothing in the pictures to interest the dedicated nerd. (Had never seen a shot with a 'Wikipedia Commons' citation in a printed book before. Bit like saying 'Psst. Look on the Internet. There's a lot on this machine.')

    Where the book does get a chance to shine is in the modelling section. Very high quality of finished kits, and the individual manufacturer reviews are solid. He's either a modeller himself or has grasped the target market & put a lot more effort into this section.

    I like that international contemporary light machines are given a nod at book's end.

    All printing & photo reproduction is very high.
    We seem to be in a good age for physical print quality.

    I get it. I'm a nerd. And my modelling these days consists largely of getting a kit from the loft - staring at it for a week - then sheepishly putting it back while muttering 'need new glasses' or some other weak excuse.
    This title's not really aimed directly at me, but... a smidge more effort on the history & development of Carriers beyond this rather thin Wiki-ish soup could have saved the thing. Modellers like camo illustration inspiration too, and this falls short on that important score.
    It's a very heavily-illustrated magazine. Which might not necessarily disappoint if that's what you're after.

    For the Technical history crowd: If you have more money than sense, or a time machine - get Nigel Watson's books.
    If you want a pretty thorough survey of Carriers & such for a more acceptable price, try Chamberlain & Ellis's 'Making Tracks. British Carrier Story 1914-1972'. It's 46 years old, but remains very useful..

    Cheers to P&S for the review copy.

    Rich Payne and Chris C like this.
  2. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Having looked up 'Making Tracks' on Abe...
    Try not to pay c.£20 for it. Disappointment may ensue at an Osprey-sized (if densely-illustrated & solid) rather ancient book.
    It does turn up on ebay for more appropriate prices & I've see it on charity & secondhand shelves for a quid or two. Save that £20 for Mr Knight etc.

    Eg. Starting at c.£4.50.
    Making Tracks-British Carrier Story 1914-1972 P Chamberlain C Ellis | eBay
    The market rules, though. Intrigued as to whether it shoots up.

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