Steve Zaloga--Is He a Competent Author?

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Commissar D, the Evil
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Steve Zaloga--Is He a Competent Author?

Post by Commissar D, the Evil » Sat Sep 27, 2008 6:46 pm

Well, the Commissar has never been too impressed by Osprey Press. Looking through some of Zaloga's work, it occurs to me that he has made a reputation through Osprey--but, is his work accurate?

Zaloga tends to stick to American and Russian Armor, which is much less subject to the critical eye of an expert than German Armor of the same period. SO, I began to wonder exactly how good his research is, as it is apparently intended for the pathetically regimented 48 pages of an Osprey booklet.

The truth is that Zaloga has been writing about armor for decades, but no one has seemed to actually question his writings, even though,in his later years, his writings have created a certain hilarity amongst the true aficionados of armored warfare--if one is familiar with the particular unit he discusses and possesses better books than the Osprey nonsense. (I think that everyone here will agree to recognize that the Osprey booklets represent no more than a very brief introduction to the study of a particular armored vehicle.)

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Re: Steve Zaloga--Is He a Competant Author?

Post by Uncle Joe » Sat Sep 27, 2008 7:57 pm

I think Zaloga´s greatest defect is his tendency to try to see everything German in the worst possible light while applauding Soviet and US designs. BTW, Stackpole books will shortly publish Zaloga´s new book on the Sherman (will have IIRC some 384 pages). Since it is now a much bigger one compared to Osprey´s stuff, one can see whether or not Zaloga is up to it!

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Re: Steve Zaloga--Is He a Competant Author?

Post by Commissar D, the Evil » Sat Sep 27, 2008 8:18 pm

Well, Uncle Joe, I wrote this post simply because I thought Zaloga's research on American tanks, specifically the M-24 and the M-46, was lightweight and erroneous. Then I realized that folk had been accepting his pronouncements on armor for a good two or more decades and that made me worry! :shock: :shock: :shock:

Personally, I think that Zaloga is a paper tiger, who hasn't written anything of serious importance since his 1984 book "Soviet Tanks and Combat Vehicles of World War II". Of course, Osprey has a multitude of colorful illustrators and painters to supply enough "color centerpieces" in each booklet to disguise any failure of research on the part of their "authors"...... :wink:

By the way, as far as I know, Osprey Press doesn't sponsor us on Feldgrau, so, unlike on some other Boards, I'm free to say here what I truly believe. Osprey Press is for beginners and children. I have fallen often enough into the trap of looking for some insight into armored vehicles to know this as an undeniable truth.

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Re: Steve Zaloga--Is He a Competant Author?

Post by donwhite » Sat Sep 27, 2008 10:57 pm

Armour aside, although I'm no expert on Soviet Era TO/E's, I thought his work "Red Army Handbook 1939-1945" (co-authored with Leland S.Ness & 230 pages) was well researched judging by the bibliography and comparing with Charles C. Sharps work 'Soviet Army Order of Battle in world war II".

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Re: Steve Zaloga--Is He a Competant Author?

Post by Uncle Joe » Sun Sep 28, 2008 3:00 am

And it could be also that Zaloga is far too prolific to prevent any deeper research. Just look how many book(let)s he has authored in the past 2-3 years.

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Re: Steve Zaloga--Is He a Competant Author?

Post by Richard Hargreaves » Sun Sep 28, 2008 4:31 am

His book with Victor Madej, The Polish Campaign 1939, (Hippocrene, New York, 1985) is pretty much the sole account in English of Polish operations in 1939... so I used it quite a lot as a reference work for my book. It seemed authoritative and Zaloga/Madej are names I've always respected, but I'd be interested to hear what Polish-speaking forum members might think of it...
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Re: Steve Zaloga--Is He a Competant Author?

Post by Andy H » Sun Sep 28, 2008 7:16 am

Well David has raised two seperate issues within this thread. Firstly and intially about Zaloga, and secondly about Osprey.

I cant comment with any authority on Zaloga's historical accuracy, as his 'specialism' certainly isn't mine.

In regards to Osprey, I agree with David that there publications are aimed at military history beginners, be they adult or child and also modelling buffs may well find there colour plates of interest. I think that Osprey themselves are aware of what there target audience is and what they want from there various genre titles. They provide a simple, relatively cheap, colourful and standardised formatted introduction into the various topics and also provide via the Bibliography/Reference a useful listing as a means to pursue further research.

In regards to Madeja I have found his works interesting but again I haven't analysed them as such but my gut feeling is that he's held in higher regard than Zaloga within military circles.

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Re: Steve Zaloga--Is He a Competant Author?

Post by Uncle Joe » Sun Sep 28, 2008 7:29 am

Speaking of reputation, within modeller community Zaloga is almost a God!

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Re: Steve Zaloga--Is He a Competant Author?

Post by Commissar D, the Evil » Sun Sep 28, 2008 10:53 am

Zaloga has been into modeling since, I'd say, the 1970s. He's very, very good. I may have been a bit too harsh on him--he has advanced the hobby quite a bit. Maybe my real problem lies more with the damned Ospreys! 48 pages of generally recycled dreck with pictures.

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Re: Steve Zaloga--Is He a Competant Author?

Post by Stephan H. » Sun Sep 28, 2008 1:28 pm

Zaloga, is a prolific modeler and historian, in that order.

If anyone has a chance to check out http://www.missing-lynx.com/, you can see his work and subject matter, which is very diverse. I own no Osprey books by Zaloga, but I do own quite a few of his Concord titles and find them very good. He has intimate knowledge of U.S. WWII AFV Photo sources, and I'm sure if contacted would probably help out another researcher. So, take his work, biases included (we all have them - it is what academics call your "historiography") and embrace the man's research or use it as a means toward finding other sources.

Quick note on W. Victor Madeja. His Russo-German War Series published in the 1980s, which is hard to find and cost a $$$, is an excellent reference on German operations in the East. I own a few of his books and they are still very good, though dated. Madeja was one of the earliest, most prolific researchers of the "Captured German Records Collection" in the US NA.

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Re: Steve Zaloga--Is He a Competant Author?

Post by Commissar D, the Evil » Sun Sep 28, 2008 4:51 pm

I have a few of Madeja's booklets as well--they are seriously good, especially when one considers the time period in which they were written.

Returning to Zaloga, can anyone figure out this piece of obscuration on page 18 of the "M-24 Chaffee tank" Osprey booklet, speaking about Korea:

"Besides serving in the light tank companies in each of the three heavy tank battalions, M24 tanks also served in the reconnaissance companies of the 3rd Infantry (24th Division), 7th Infantry (25th Division), 16th Infantry (1st Cavalry Division), and in ten reconnaissance platoons, (502nd, 503rd, 10th BCT, 187th Airborne, 6th, 64th, 70th, 72nd, 73rd and 89th tank battalions)."

There are certain obvious errors to anyone remotely familiar with the U.S. Army in the Korean War. I'd love for someone to explain for me the unit designations: "3rd Infantry (24th Division), 7th Infantry (25th Division), 16th Infantry (1st Cavalry Division)". If you think this is a matter of quibbling, just think how you would feel if 1st, 2nd or 3rd S.S. were described as containing imaginary Infantry Regiments! :shock: :shock: :shock:

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Re: Steve Zaloga--Is He a Competant Author?

Post by Uncle Joe » Sun Sep 28, 2008 5:25 pm

Commissar, I have Zaloga´s e-mail somewhere. You might perhaps write him directly and ask for his explanation? Or post the comment on ML.

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Re: Steve Zaloga--Is He a Competant Author?

Post by Commissar D, the Evil » Sun Sep 28, 2008 5:43 pm

I've known Zaloga in the past as what I would generously characterize as an "arrogant sort" when it comes to criticism, from past exchanges on another site. Fact is that, if he wants to respond here, he always can and is welcome to do so without my interference. I think that quite enough of our folks participate on the "Missing Lynx" website to let him know about this debate.

No matter his explanation, the fact remains that his M24 Osprey booklet is seriously flawed and his knowledge of the U.S. Army in Korea--one of the the easiest subjects to research, over here in America--is flawed. So, when it comes to Ospreys about foreign vehicles, I advise the slightest bit of caution.....

(P.S., Does he even know what the "Heavy Tank Battalions" in Korea were? "Heavy Tank Battalion" in 1950 was a "term of art" and historians are still trying to figure out exactly what the U.S. Army meant by the term in those years! The 70th was designated a "Heavy Tank Battalion" but it was equipped with Shermans. So were the 6th and the 64th, which were both equipped with M-46 Pattons. Muddy water to wade in, like a rice paddy, if you don't know anything about it! :D :D :D :D )

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David
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Re: Steve Zaloga--Is He a Competant Author?

Post by michael kenny » Sun Sep 28, 2008 6:15 pm

Hunnicutt in his 'Stuart, History Of The American Light Tank' only has a few pages on Korea but says that The M24 served in the 78th Heavy Tank Battalion with the rider in brackets thus: {'note the heavy designation']
As for '3rd Infantry (24th Division) Hunnicutt also mentions the M24 supported 3rd Battalion 21st Infantry on 10th Jult 1950.
I make that 3/21st in 24 ID.

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Re: Steve Zaloga--Is He a Competant Author?

Post by Commissar D, the Evil » Sun Sep 28, 2008 6:29 pm

3rd Infantry Division in Korea, according to their unit history:

7th Infantry Regiment
15th Infantry Regiment
65th Infantry Regiment.
64th Tank Battalion

21st Infantry regiment belonged to 24th Infantry division, not the 3rd infantry Division!!!!!!!!
24th I.D. consisted of 19th, 21st, and 34th Infantry Regiments. The 29th Regimental Combat Team was also attached to the 24th in the early months of the war.

I remain confidant that zaloga's unit designations are total nonsense when it comes to the Korean War and that anyone using the Osprey M-24 and M-46 booklets are in for some quite brutal surprises.

Just as an aside, I would seriously like to know how zaloga assigned M-4 Shermans to the 3rd I.D's 64thTank Battalion. Given my own correspondence with veterans of that unit and historical records, it takes a certain amount of balls--or sheer ignorance--to state that 64th Heavy Tank Battalion, assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division, ever used Shermans! :D :D :D :D :D

Maybe Zaloga should abandon children's books like Osprey and face up to adult concerns about military history, even if such a concern earns him less money!!!!!

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~D,the EviL
Death is lighter than a Feather, Duty is heavier than a Mountain....

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