The Soviet Armed Forces, 1918-1992: A Research Guide to Soviet Sources

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The Soviet Armed Forces, 1918-1992: A Research Guide to Soviet Sources by John and Ljubica Erickson. Greenwood Press, 88 Post Road West, Box 5007, Westport, Connecticut 06881, 1996, 224 pages, $75.00.

Professor Erickson's latest offering is an essential book for serious students of Soviet/Russian military thinking. It is a selected bibliography and research guide to Soviet sources, one which is a must for any serious student of the field. It is not a book to read; rather, it is one to use.

Professor Erickson's Soviet holdings and contacts are legendary. Part of his collection of Soviet sources had to be removed from his fifth floor office in an eighteenth century Edinburgh tenement because its weight compromised the structural integrity of the building; his home office resembled the Grand Canyon, with a single narrow path through the four-foot piles of books to his desk. His expertise dates back to the 1940s and his collection covers 200 years of Russian military art. He shorts himself by saying that his personal contacts are senior Soviet officers. He nurtured the junior and field grade officers decades ago and retained the contacts. And his wife, confidente, and harshest critic, Ljubica, herself an expert in the field, guided his course. The Ericksons never take anything at face value: they call it as they see it. At times they were severely criticized by the Soviets; at other times, they lectured the Soviet General Staff.

As a selected bibliography, The Soviet Armed Forces, 1918-1992 certainly meets its stated goals. It has 1,400 Soviet sources, plus a limited number of Western ones. The annotations are superb. The Ericksons identify where to find the original sources, and in many cases they point to English translations of the works. …