Authors and Readers of SS books

German SS and Waffen-SS 1923-1945.

Moderator: Mark C Yerger

Re: Authors and Readers of SS books

Postby heinz kling » Mon Nov 18, 2002 6:44 am

Mark C. Yerger wrote:All:

These may be a worthless comments or fall on deaf ears but I personally feel need to be made. Some things for readers to keep in mind:

1) Taking time in hours and expenses into account, I know of few authors (if any) who profit financially from writing. Those who send letters requesting piles of data and material need to remember they are probably not the only people who write to an individual. My own postage bills are a 4 figure sum yearly. Include postage costs as a common courtesy. Xeroxes of documents and prints do cost. I had an author friend get a note by with simply "Send me copies of all the photos and documents you have on "Wiking." Sender didn't even enclose a stamp.

2) Books are written based on available material, not by desired topic in some cases. With documentation gaps, a lot of areas can not be covered in a book format. I often get requests or questions as to why this or that topic doesn't have a book: its because enough info often doesn't exist.

3) Non-writing readers/collectors often have material of use but, for reasons I've never understood, don't take the effort to share it. A lot can be added to a lot of projects from this group. A single photo, document, or period book adds a lot. Location of readers can assist authors if close to archives used, museums, etc. The more resources someone has the better. Most writers have a small group who assist and archives as sources with little contributed from the general reader who may have something of use be it whatever type of material. The more help, the better the project.

4) Its impossible to do books with 100% new data, even if only to give needed background and relative data to a reader (especially new ones). I'll personally buy a book for a single photo or a couple pages of new information. A book with 20% new data is (to me) a must have gold mine.

5) A lot of books are passed on by US readers due to language. However, many have a lot of data that can be used with a minimum of foreign language ability. Books like the Biblio KC series, Tessin, and MANY other titles should be considered by those who are not fluent. A number of good and inexpensive military dictionaries are also available. Dates and MANY other facts require almost no foreign language skills. The average person has a 1200 word vocabulary, so if you can recognize a couple hundred words in another langauge there is a lot that can be absorbed.

6) I see the junk "bargain table" books that continue to be cranked out appear now even in good quality bookstores as WWII is popular. Most all know the titles or authors, they've obviously been written in a day, no bibliography/footnotes, grainy pics and/or facts totally copied from others, superficial (or totally wrong) info, etc. Wasted money is wasted money but many books sell simply due to the distribution network of a large publisher that floods the market. If someone on this forum seeks a book on a topic and doesn't know what to buy, ask for suggestions. There are far more good books than bad, the better ones should be supported while the "production line" type should stop wasting paper resources. You get what you pay for.

7) Authors do not decide the cost of a book. Publishers do. Likewise, few authors determine which photo is done large, which is done small. A small number allow author design input, most don't. Few publishers have a clue about the topic compared to the author, a factor to consider when complaining about this or that aspect in the finished product.

8) If you get a book and like it, invest 2 stamps in telling BOTH the publisher and author. It gives the author some reader insight for future projects and motivates the publisher to do another volume on the topic by the author. Publishers are in business to make a profit and only do so with satisified customers.

9) This one will irk a few. I see some readers on forums who make a career of blasting this or that mistake in any book, with no positive comments even when deserved. I have never seen a perfect book in any language with zero mistakes of any type (design, a fact, caption, ID, typos, etc), including my own. To that small fraction of "blasting only" readers: Since your knowledge and perfection level is so high, please let us all read the originally researched book YOU'VE written.

Mark


Did Patrick Aget pissed off a lot of posters over at Feldgrau.com because he never replies, or the requests were never accompanied with postage?
heinz kling
 

Postby Mark C Yerger » Sat Nov 23, 2002 3:31 am

He generally seems to not reply and shares little with few. A pity, as it keeps some (including me) from having any interest at all in writing anything on the "Leibstandarte." However, there are plenty of others with normal material exchange practices and a vast number of other topics to write about. He seems to block a lot of veteran contact as well, keeping any such potential info either for himself or not wanting anyone to have it if he can't.

Mark
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Since Agte presumably makes some good money on his books

Postby heinz kling » Sat Nov 23, 2002 4:20 am

May be he is not too keen on being preempted in his publishing plans. Just my 2 cents though.

Mark, any idea what will be his next book, something on the HJ I hope.
heinz kling
 

Postby sid guttridge » Sat Nov 23, 2002 4:58 am

Hi Mark,

As a matter of interest, what is meant by "hoard" in this instance?

Few researchers are in personal possession of original documents not available elsewhere and are therefore not in a position to single handedly block research in a given subject area, even if they wanted to.

If someone has invested time and money in delving through archives accessible to anyone else, why should they be obliged to share the fruits of their labour with others who have not?

I think a far bigger problem is that not enough people are doing primary research in the first place.

This isn't just a Waffen-SS issue, but applies more generally.

Cheers,

Sid.
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Postby Mark C Yerger » Sat Nov 23, 2002 5:29 am

We're talking about photo material, award document copies and input by surviving individuals, obviously.

Mark
Last edited by Mark C Yerger on Sun Nov 24, 2002 12:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Was Schneider copying Kratschmer?

Postby heinz kling » Sat Nov 23, 2002 5:41 am

The latter's book on the RK holders is a classic to me, though some coverage on individual holders were skimpy, to say the least.
heinz kling
 

Postby Mark C Yerger » Sun Nov 24, 2002 6:29 am

Bottom line:

If you horde material and simply wish to keep it for others to never see, you're a collector and not a researcher. Those who never reply serious efforts who contact and offer costs or exchange in return are simply rude.
If you're using said material for your own work, fine. But to simply flaunt it is childish and to obtain the material from veterans in an obviously dishonest way as far as intent or its value (or at wrong time like immediate after death requests) is as bad as it gets. To each his own.

Mark
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Postby Mark C Yerger » Sun Nov 24, 2002 7:53 am

On the subject of exchange:

Anyone interested in trading document copies, photos, or data on SS/Police toipics I do wecome a mutual exchange. Material I can use are:

photos (signed and unsigned)
personnel file copies
award document xeroxes
books and magazines (or xeroxes of same)

I have to offer in equal exchange

KTB copies
operational reports
DAL
personnel files
photos (signed and unsigned)
various SS-FHA/PHA records for promotions, assignments, unit development, and OOBs
Feldpost lists
books/magazines
misc unpublished reports, data, diaries, etc

Mark
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Postby sid guttridge » Mon Nov 25, 2002 5:53 am

Hi Mark,

I take your point about the difference between a collector and a researcher.

I have never acquired such original materials as they seem to me to be of minor historical importance. I tend to go for the "big picture", material for which is almost all formally archived, but I can quite see the frustrations for anyone who does specialise in these areas.

Thanks.

Sid
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Postby Mark C Yerger » Mon Nov 25, 2002 7:20 am

Sid

Point noted, though being to date primarily a biographical researcher I can understand the frustration for those doing work on specific lower level units or individuals on my area. Even at the bigger picture (divisional level) a degree of cooperation would greatly increase what eventually becomes available. Only so many Waffen-SS books can be published on that as a general topic without being redundant, specifics have become the norm as far as reader/researcher wants.

Best
Mark
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Postby sid guttridge » Mon Nov 25, 2002 8:20 am

Hi Mark,

I think you make a very important point about the limited number of books that can reasonably been published on any subject area.

It seems to me that the Waffen-SS is probably the most over researched aspect of the military history of WWII, with the possible exception of aircraft serial numbers. There was a time about ten years ago when you could get entire books devoted exclusively to single aspects of Waffen-SS uniform regalia or specific aircraft serials but nothing on entire countries such as Bulgaria, Slovakia, Romania or Hungary. Thankfully that has changed since the fall of Communism.

However, because it is already so heavily researched, the continuing study of the Waffen-SS is leading researchers into ever more obscure areas in order to find something new for the publishers' presses. Judging by the relative number of visitors to this part of the Feldgrau site, I guess they are just following the market, but it seems a diversion when there are still entire campaigns undescribed in English in any detail. It seems to me that the sheer success of writers on the Waffen-SS in getting to market is tending to distort history by giving the Waffen-SS a profile its military contribution doesn't really merit.

As you may have noted from other threads, I do not place great significance on the military impact of the Waffen-SS on WWII. However, its sheer diversity of composition and motivation makes it fascinating for other reasons. I do not stray over into your part of the Feldgrau site often to make contributions, but I do follow it with interest.

Thanks,

Sid.
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Postby Mark C Yerger » Mon Nov 25, 2002 10:12 am

I think, like any area, some topics are overdone. Tiger tank books for example, abound for a type with little actual impact while almost nothing exists for more numerically important types. I have a dozen books on the ME-109 and 262 while almost nothing is done in English on Japanese or Italian aircraft. Its market demand to a degree. For SS, the LAH has been overdone and its importance inflated while numerous other (too me interesting) units haven't been studied/examined in any language. I'm speaking outside the collector of militaria area since few of them have any history interest, being concerned mostly with originality and value alone. SS aspects remaining to cover are vast (main offices, Police, individual biographies, T-Standarten, etc) but decent texts are difficult and time absorbing tasks. Obviously Butler and others jumped on the bandwagon with one volume bargain table type books compiled with redundant existing material. I study the SS within itself, without ever having really thought of impact compared to other area such as the Army. My own interests, commanders in detail and award holders, seem far less available for other services unless perhaps a KC holder. But I read a variety of topics aside from SS facets. Individual German Army unit histories in English (aside from the Afrikakorps) and post 1970s researched Generals biographies seem few and far between, an open area for those with the time and interest to research. I'd love to read a well done study of Hoth, Balck, and others, done by an objective postwar author in English. As a hobby reader, the complete lack of book in English on Japanese topics overall is frustrating and covers a VAST unexplored area.

Mark
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Postby sid guttridge » Wed Nov 27, 2002 3:55 am

Hi Mark,

I particularly agree on the lack of good stuff in English on the Japanese war effort, particularly as regards its army's main campaign in China. My feeling is that research has advanced so far in some areas that it is now deep into trivial detail, whereas it has barely begun in others.

Cheers,

Sid.
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Postby Mark C Yerger » Wed Nov 27, 2002 6:45 am

Sid

The biggest, and unexplaned, frustration on Japanese is the great material available in Japanese language books that nobody releases in English. Ship and aircraft books about that one can read captions if you're lucky. I understand their official Naval history from the Japanese perspective is massive, some 20+ vols I'd heard just into 1942, but its only available in Japanese. I've yet to find bio data on Japanese senior Army commanders, only a few titles for naval leaders.

Mark
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Postby sid guttridge » Thu Nov 28, 2002 3:36 am

Hi Mark,

It sounds as though the Japanese should be careful that they don't suffer the same fate as the official Romanian military history of their participation in WWI. They took twenty years just to publish numerous in depth volumes on the 1916 Campaign. Then WWII interrupted and publication never resumed, so we have relatively little on 1917 or 1918.

Cheers,

Sid
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