The Eastern Front experiences of the world's most successful tank ace, Michael Wittmann, and those of his fellow Waffen SS Tiger commanders of the Leibstandarte Division are covered in this first of two volumes published by Stackpole Books.
This first volume does provide a great deal of information of Wittmann and his comrades and the combat activities of the 4th (Heavy) Company from its creation in January 1943 to early June 1944 when Wittmann & his comrades, now part of the 101st SS Panzer Battalion, found themselves in France awaiting the Allied invasion. Numerous first-person accounts of Wittmann, the man and the military commander, abound. Though many are written in the stilted, stiff wartime style, they do present a coherent picture of an exemplary commander and a superlative fighting leader. The book also includes testimonials to other Waffen SS commanders and many accounts of Eastern Front action. Unfortunately the book, originally published in Germany, is a ponderous read.
The book also features over 300 photographs of Wittmann, his comrades, their tanks, Soviet opponents, etc. Unfortunately photo reproduction quality is poor; most shots are muddy. There are a number of battle maps included but they are are hard to understand and add little to the narrative. I did find the inclusion of the various units' Order of Battle fascinating. At a single glance you could see how many tanks the unit possessed, supporting flak units, scout cars, supply trucks, etc. and realize how large an organization the 10st, for example, was.
All in all, Agte's book is a mixed blessing. Lots of info on Wittmann, other Tiger commanders and Eastern Front battles but it's presented in a plodding, graceless narrative. Lots of rare photos but they're poorly reproduced, etc. Reasonable price ($19.95) but remember: you still need to pick up volume 2 to see how it all ends!