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Snipers at War: An Equipment and Operations History, John Walter

Snipers are feared on the battlefield, known to live by the motto ‘one shot, one kill’. But is this really true or is this just a myth?

If you have ever read the book ‘How to make war’, you may already know that many bullets are needed for just one kill and the dominant weapon is often artillery. An exception to this rule is the modern sniper.

Snipers at War is a detailed history of snipers on the battlefield. it deals with many aspects of sniping such as equipment and tactics used. Snipers at war describes the start of snipers on the battlefield until the present day.

In this book you may find the stories of many famous snipers, such as Simo Häyhä, who is accredited with 505 kills in just hundred days during the Winter War between the Finnish and the Russian army between 1939-1940.

If you have seen the movie ‘Enemy at the Gates’ you know Vasiliy Zaytsev, who was accredited with 242 kills during the Battle of Stalingrad. The Russian army employed approximately 2000 women as a sniper during the Second World War.

Snipers were feared on the battlefield. Often they would strike against officers, in order to brake up the enemy command structure. One sniper would always shoot the number two soldier in the column, so there would be fear to fill this position, even leading to small mutinies.

You may also find information about Carlos Hathcock, known as the ‘White Feather’, who is known for killing an enemy sniper by shooting him through his own scope during the Vietnam War, which inspired a sniper scene in Saving Private Ryan.

If you are looking for a general, well written book about sniping history to present day and the development of sniping weapons look no further. The amount of details are impressive, but for the unseasoned reader they may be overwhelming at times. Given the extend of the subject you would expect few details of the snipers involved. This book includes many personal experiences which makes it an interesting book to read, I would however have loved to read more of these stories though.

If you are interested in the subject in detail (including calibre used), manufacturers, you’ve got the right book. Also, if you are interested in ‘story telling’ you may like the book as well. John Walker must have done massive research in order to be able to write this book. For this reason a five star rating would have been well deserved. Often, I read a personal story and wanted to read more about the person but then the story stopped. Since I would have liked to read more of these stories, I’ll rate the book with four stars only, but other readers may believe five stars would be fair.

The final verdict: A four stars plus!