Uniforms Osprey Publishing Men-at-Arms books, hate them or love them?

7thWisconsin

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 21, 2014
That's also one of my main problems with Osprey's Men-at-Arms series ... but I guess it all depends what you're looking for. I actually haven't read too many of Osprey's books on the Civil War, but one that I did and can recommend is "Confederate Artilleryman 1861-65" from the Warrior series. Years ago I participated in a Civil War reenactment as a CSA artilleryman, and reading that book was interesting because it gave a look not only at what the guys were wearing and carrying, but also things like their recruitment/training and the conditions of their daily life on campaign. When it comes to Osprey books I much prefer the Warrior series over Men-at-Arms for this reason, because Warrior books cover both equipment and service history, as opposed to just uniform details.
I think all Osprey publications are hit and miss. The Warrior and Elite series are better than the Men at Arms series.The French Resistance Fighter and The Soviet Infantryman are both excellent sources that aren´t treated in a single volume for gamers very often. The very best Campaign series book I ever read was ¨Tarawa: The Turning of the Tide.¨ It´s actually exciting to read and has an excellent bibliography. The best of the Essential Histories series that I´ve read is The Spanish Civil War. The rest of the Osprey titles I´ve read are information heavy but stylistically tepid.
 

7thWisconsin

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 21, 2014
Anyone ever checked out the books by Liliane & Fred Funcken? I have the 2-volume set on Napoleonic Wars which are nice. However many of the other books looked more like sketches than nice drawings.

It appears they made two volumes on US uniforms. I think this is a Funcken book. It looks like they cover a broad period of history. It also is likely not in English.

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All of us uniform mavens owe the Funckens a debt of gratitude. They were illustrating uniforms when almost no one else was. Some of their medieval armor recreations are laughable from the modern standpoint, but no one else was trying to recreate what they loked like when they did them. They were giants; we only see anything because we stand on their shoulders.
 

1950lemans

First Sergeant
Joined
Jun 23, 2013
Location
Connecticut
The views of Osprey's CW uniform books are very interesting. I have some of their CW naval books. Overall I would say Osprey does a very good job as a starting point for uniforms and armies. I'm pretty sure most of you will agree. They're like a "pictorial Wikipedia" if you're looking to find out about some uniforms or weaponry. I've picked up some off-the-wall books from Osprey covering Islamic armor from the 7th - 11 th centuries; Byzantines; Polish hussars; Mongols, etc. I thought they were fascinating and a good starting point for further investigation.
 

major bill

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 25, 2012
Another Osprey book series is the Order of Battle books.
There are 6 books about the Battle of Gettysburg each book is about 96 pages long. The books take a detailed look at the order of battle for that day. At almost 600 pages long there is a lot of detail here. One does not often see the company names of all companies in each regiment. But how many people need that much detail?
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RedRover

Corporal
Joined
Dec 16, 2019
The Osprey books are fun, but in the 80s used copies were not easy to find, and I recall finding them rather expensive at the time. Had to settle for this single volume. The mid-80s paperback reprint of Haythornwaite's:

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DixieRifles

Captain
Member of the Year
Regtl. Staff Shiloh 2020
Joined
Mar 22, 2009
Location
Collierville, TN
Some of their medieval armor recreations are laughable from the modern standpoint, but no one else was trying to recreate what they loked like when they did them.
I checked out some books on modern WW2 uniforms. Not impressed. I didnt chuckle but I had a puzzled look.
 

Kurt G

Sergeant Major
Joined
May 23, 2018
I hav
Another Osprey book series is the Order of Battle books.
There are 6 books about the Battle of Gettysburg each book is about 96 pages long. The books take a detailed look at the order of battle for that day. At almost 600 pages long there is a lot of detail here. One does not often see the company names of all companies in each regiment. But how many people need that much detail?
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I have that series as well . Do you need that much detail ?? Maybe not , but it's always nice to have .
 

SeaTurtle

Private
Joined
Jun 14, 2021
Overall I would say Osprey does a very good job as a starting point for uniforms and armies. I'm pretty sure most of you will agree. They're like a "pictorial Wikipedia" if you're looking to find out about some uniforms or weaponry.

In some cases they're even your best hope for info, at least if you're a monolingual English-speaker. For example one of the Men-at-Arms books that I do really enjoy is Imperial Chinese Armies 1840-1911. A lot of detail about the uniforms, equipment, and organisation of Chinese troops between the Opium Wars to the fall of the Qing dynasty, the kind of stuff that you can't easily find in English through browsing the interwebs or reading general history books on China.
 

RedRover

Corporal
Joined
Dec 16, 2019
Oh how I loath this book! :eek:
Between the Osprey books, and Haythornwaite's, the reenactments in Florida in the 80s looked alot like table-top wargames, with small units dressed like the plates from these books. Oh what a marvel the Time-Life Echoes of Glory books were about 1991!

I always suspected that the movie costumers copied them too...

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major bill

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 25, 2012
I also had that one and threw it out many years ago.
I still have my copy. One of the reason I still have it is that I like to research where misconceptions about uniforms originated. I do think mistakes in this book influenced other uniform artist/researchers. So I try to look at information about a uniform both before and after Haythornwaite's book came out. If several artist after Haythornwaite copied his mistake, then the information starts to become accepted as true. If another uniform artist/researcher trusted Haythornwaite and did not do additional research, this makes me question the accuracy of any other uniforms in that book or uniform plates by the researcher and artist.
 
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