BoB: The Czech & Slovak Legion in Siberia, 1917-1922


BoB Book 1001

New book arrived, just published by McFarland.

It covers the Czechoslovak Legion during the dying days of WW1 and more particularly WW1. The author has obviously used personal reminiscences of friends and family of the legion. The book is chunky and has lots of photos I have not seen before. These are non-combat photos but nonetheless very handy when modelling/painting the legion and understanding its history.

The development of the Legion during WW1 is detailed, and its subsequent involvement in the RCW is covered. There is nothing new in that narrative, but it is very useful to have the individual frustrations of Czechoslovaks detailed. It fleshes it out and adds more personal insight. The Legions role in the RCW is covered again offering no revelations but a host of detailed events and personal experiences. The growing gulf between the aspirations of the Allied intervention, the Whites and the Czechs is however much more detailed than I have read before.

The prolonged agony of retreat is detailed well and tallies with all the other versions I have read/seen. The Legion certainly did not get treated well either by its Allied overseers (Gen.Janin) or its nominal comrades in arms the Whites. It held on to the end, defending Kolchak and the bullion, before evacuation. However Gen.Janin comes out as the unfortunate middleman, damned if he did, damned if he didn’t. Kolchak’s light wanes further with more witnesses commenting on his dissolute regime.

The book covers not just the legion but the RCW in general. Sadly, I wish it had stuck just the legion. T The text also suffers from repetition of phrases such as various towns being repeatedly described as “…began to resemble Omsk…”. It also jumps around the timeline too much, so you do have to have a very thorough grounding in the RCW and in particular events in Siberia to keep a track of what is going on. There are many details of what the Legion did behind the lines (esp its organisation). There is a paucity of information as to its military activity, uniforms, equipment and front line engagements. This is more a social and political history.

Overall, it is a valuable addition to an RCW library, however, it is really only for those with a thorough grounding in events in Siberia and not for wargamers interested solely in military Orbats.

As you can see from my picture (scan) of the book, it has lots of great items of info that I have marked so I hope this doesn’t come across as a negative review. Rather this is a book for the serious RCW enthusiast.

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