Previously published as 'A Collector's Guide to the History and Regalia of the SS - The Black Corps', this detailed look at the organisation and history of the 'general' SS is an indispensable guide which places their uniforms, ephemera and memorabilia in context.
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This soft back edition makes for a good quick reference guide as to the large "overblown" organization. It covers the origins and history but also gives the reader nice examples of uniforms & insignia. The majority of the book covers the organization of the SS, specially the Allgemeine - SS or General SS. Sections include: Conditions of service; uniforms; insignia, forging together the police force (SD, the Gestapo, the Orpo, SiPo and the RSHA); the racial concept; the relationship of the SS with education, the economy, and public life in Nazi Germany.
The weakest section is Chapter 12 on the Waffen-SS or Armed SS. It seems to be more of an afterthought. The space allowed its history is very minor and brief. It would have been better to either leave this section out or written an expanded separate work. In the end, the volume is comparable to Chris McNab's recent book: "SS DATABOOK: 1923-45", published in 2009 by Amber Books, Ltd. Although, this book does not have the handy charts and graphs like McNab's volume. Quick reference guides are popular these days, but Mr. Lumsden deserves credit for writing one of the earliest that still holds up well, overall.
Footnote: Almost all of the information put forth in the soft back volume herein is covered in Mr. Lumsden's other book, "Himmler's Black Order 1923-45", published by The History Press in 2005. If you buy one, there is no need to purchase the other, even though the book, "Himmler's Black Order" is somewhat expanded. Further, "Himmler's Black Order", has a clear error in the book when it states that in the closing days of the Berlin fighting, the Waffen-SS troops were under the overall command of SS-Obergruppenführer und General der Waffen-SS, Felix Steiner. In fact they were under the overall command of SS-Brigadeführer, Wilhelm Mohnke. Steiner never made it to Berlin. His refusal to counter-attack the Soviet Army (that outnumbered his forces 10 to 1) resulted in one of Hitler's most infamous outbursts.