Book in Review: September 2019

Author:
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Heroes in Our Midst, Volume 4, by LTC (Ret.) John R. Angolia (military consulting services provided by George A. Petersen, NCHS, Inc.) (ISBN 1-932970-34-7; R. James Bender Publishing, P.O. Box 23456, San Jose, CA 95153-3456; 408-225-5777; www.bender-publishing.com. Hardcover, 526 pages, 1,679 photos (most in color), $94.95

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This is the final volume of the acclaimed series on the U.S. Airborne and elite forces in World War II. In this volume, author and collecting icon, John R. Angolia, examines the First Special Service Force with an extensive study of the Force V-42 knife; airborne weapons and equipment (with an in-depth study of the M-2 knife); Airborne Engineers;Aviation Engineer Battalions; Airborne Anti-Aircraft Battalions & Batteries; Special Allied Airborne Recon-naissance Force (SAARF); and the Philippine Airborne. The final two chapters covers awards and decorations (featuring many original citations) and Airborne flags and guidons.

Like the three volumes that preceded, this edition is a perfect blend of original photographs, extant artifacts, historic research, and professional analysis — the latter provided by both the author and one of the world’s most esteemed WWII material culture experts, George Petersen. Working together, the two have woven together the intricate details that tell the story of elite forces beginning with the commandos who made up the First Special Service Force.

What follows are hundreds of pages packed with mouth-watering uniforms, insignia, headgear, weapons, and personal items — all documented and attributed to various American elite forces.

In many instances, the narrative is accompanied by extant official documents ranging from patch specifications to specialmission rosters, making this volume not just a testament to the elite forces, but also a reference on which further research can be built. This is a hallmark of Angolia’s previous writings. He provides the military scholar with concrete information on which to further the exploration and study..

While the nearly $100 price of the book might — at first blush — appear to be expensive, it is just a small investment to arm yourself with the information necessary to critically evaluate any of the desirable and costly artifacts attributed to these elite forces. Just as any carpenter worth hiring must invest in quality tools, so, too, does a collector need to acquire the best reference materials. And volume 4 of Heroes in Our Midst is one of the best references a collector of WWII US material can have at their disposal. It, along with the three previous volumes, has opened up the world of US WWII elite force collecting to a whole new generation.