Military Archive Research
by Dr. Stuart C Blank
Member of the Orders and Medals Research Society (OMRS)
Member of the Royal Air Force Historical Society (RAFHS)
Member of the Naval Historical Collectors and Research Association (NHCRA)
Member of the Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS)
Member of the International Bank Note Society (IBNS)
Member of the International Bond and Share Society (IBSS)




Review of
Soviet Uniforms and Militaria 1917 - 1991
By Laszlo Bekesi and Gyorgy Torok
ISBN 9781847972606
Published by The Crowood Press (
RRP GBP £19.95

Since the fall of the Iron Curtain there has been an influx of Soviet uniforms and militaria from Eastern Europe to the West. As a result of this there has been a growing need for reference books on this subject to guide historians, new collectors and to aid the more experienced researchers / collectors. Undoubtedly the market for Soviet items is going to increase and this excellent reference book will amply serve this market.

It is a superb pictorial guide to Red / Soviet uniforms and militaria and features many outstanding pictures. The pictures illustrate costume components and close-ups of many items such as clothing labels and smaller items such as rank insignia etc.

The book is principally divided by the chronological order of Russian history. Prior to 1917 Russia was an Imperial state until it was overthrown in the Revolution. The book starts with the uniforms of period from the 1917 Revolution up to the start of World War 2. Then it progresses to those for the Great Patriotic War (the Russian term for the war known as World War 2 in the West) and it concludes with the post-World War 2 Cold War regalia. Each of these eras is sub-divided accordingly to land, sea and airborne forces. Also there is a chapter on the Cold War Air Assault Forces which are roughly the equivalent to the British Parachute formations. Indeed the Russians were one of the fore-runners of airborne troops and these were elite troops used during the Prague action (1968) and during the Afghanistan invasion of 1979.

Each of the chapters is lavishly illustrated and there are detailed explanations in the text. The coverage includes uniforms and specialised clothing, arm and branch of service badges, orders and medals, personal equipment, rank insignia (collar badges and shoulder boards), and qualification insignia. Basically all the major costume components are considered and so too are the various badges and insignia denoting rank and specialised trades.

If you are interested in the uniforms and insignia of post revolutionary Russia then this outstanding reference book will be a “must have” addition to your library. It is a pictorial guide and the explanations accompanying the pictures are admirable – as they give the details to look for. As such the pictures will help you distinguish between original costumes and insignia and those which are not “genuine” or “fantasy”.

It is a lovely book to read and it is very enlightening on the subject matter. The quality of the book has left a good impression about the eminence of the author’s work and this book is therefore highly recommended.

August 2011