World War II spawned some of the most famous - and infamous - fighting organizations the world has ever known. None was more feared by its battlefield foes or more hated by political enemies of the Nazi regime than the Waffen-SS. Six decades after the last SS unit capitulated or was annihilated, the facts about many aspects of this organization are still shrouded in legend and half-truth. Loathed by many as a criminal organization, yet admired by some for the esprit, resolve, and valor of its component units and individuals, the Waffen-SS was unarguably a highly-complex, multi-faceted phenomenon, unique among the military organizations of the world. Marc Rikmenspoel, author of Soldiers of the Waffen-SS: Many Nations, One Motto, has crafted the ultimate reference for those trying to understand the intensely controversial and complicated nature of the Waffen-SS. A comprehensive overview that will be useful to historians, buffs, wargamers, and re-enactors alike, no matter what your predisposition to the Waffen-SS, you will learn a great deal from this book.The book includes a concise history of every one of the major fighting formations of the Waffen-SS (those designated as divisions). Sections include: * Formations * Structure of Divisions * Germans * Germanics * Non-Germans and Non-Germanics * Leading Personalities * Weapons * Misconceptions and Controversies * Weapons Tables
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More of a Quick Reference Guide: I would not rate this book a detailed encyclopedia. This book gives the general reader an overview of the Waffen SS. Therefore, the volume is a good source of basic information. However, one can go online to Wikipedia for much of the same general information in articles that are easy to read (8th grade level) on the Waffen SS.
I agree that the best sections of this volume are the first two covering: the Waffen-SS unit formations, the history of the divisions and order of battle. The rest of the book is painted with a broad brush. The weakest sections are the later ones of short biographies of thirteen members/officers of the Waffen-SS and weapons of the Waffen SS (which is short and seems to have been included as more of a passing thought). I don't know how the author decided who should be included and not included as far as the biographies. Certain men one would expect to be included are not, such as: Wilhelm Mohnke, Joachim (a/k/a Jochen) Peiper, Kurt "Panzer" Meyer and Michael Wittmann.
For a long-time history buff or student of the World War II era, it makes a good quick reference guide. In the end, there are other books in combination that cover the Waffen-SS in greater detail and depth, such as:
J. J. Fedorowicz publications: "The Leibstandarte: (Volumes) I to IV/2", "Das Reich: (Volumes) I to IV";
R. James Bender Publishing (book): "Uniforms, Organization and History of the LAH: Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler"; R. James Bender Publishing (book series): "Foreign Legions of the Third Reich (Volumes) 1 to IV";
Paladin Press publication: "Forgotten Legions: Obscure Combat Formations Of The Waffen-SS".