Book review of

by Mike Venturino

When World War Two ended in 1945, the population of the United States was about 140 million. Somewhere between twelve and fifteen million citizen men and women participated in the greatest military conflagration the world has ever known. Said another way, ten percent of the American population was active military from 1941 until 1945. God only knows how many of the rest were directly involved in production of war material. For those of us whose forebears lived here then, not much chance we didn’t have a relative involved in the War.

Mine sure were. One great uncle was captured at Kasserine Pass in Tunisa in 1943. Another rigged gliders for D-Day in 1944. Yet another uncle drove a halftrack and Sherman tank with Patton’s armored divisions and survived the Battle of the Bulge. Still another drove a truck over the Burma Road in the China/Burma/India theater. All were modest, taciturn men, typical of the Greatest Generation. They would speak little of the horrors they experienced and all bore indelible marks of war within and without. One uncle, he of Patton’s army, spoke to me only once about his experiences but at great length and in considerable detail. Not an armament junky himself, he still knew enough of the equipment used on both sides to have some firm opinions. As a half-track pilot and tanker, he spoke of the collective terror of the Tiger tanks, 59 ton monsters nearly impervious to the guns of any tank the allies fielded. He also hated the MG42 machine gun, an 8MM buzzsaw firing upwards of 1200 rpms and the bane of ordinary grunts on the ground. One of the many things I learned from these men is the guns they used and fought against told their own story and much of our understanding of the combatant’s ordeal can be seen through the guns.

There are countless books out there on the subject of military small arms of World War Two. One of the best is Shots Fired in Anger by Lt. Col. John George, a National rifle Association publication from 1981. Pity is he wrote only about the Pacific Theater. Friend Mike Venturino has written another. His book Shooting World War II Small Arms (Wolfe Publishing Company, 2014) is as good even if Mike never shot the guns in anger. More importantly, Mike has compiled and compared the arms of the four major combatants and some of the lesser participants in ways never done before to my knowledge. Each is reviewed and contrasted with much attention paid to ergonomics, sights, accuracy and the ammunition. In addition to the side arms and main battle rifles, there is a section on submachine guns. Better still, there is an enormous amount of information on ammunition and reloading data for those of us who might wish to see for ourselves what the guns were capable of doing and experience a little of what our kin did back in the day. Thanks to the book’s organization and 400-plus black and white and color photos, it is easy to focus on a specific gun or cartridge within its 331 pages.

Mike dedicated his book to his uncle James Virse, a marine who fought in the Pacific Theater. After reading the book and especially the concluding chapter on Mike’s visits to some of the battlefields in which these men fought, it was clear that Mike didn’t list in his dedication my uncles and yours only for want of space and ink.


Hardback with dust jacket; 331 pages. $54 plus shipping. To purchase, contact:

Wolfe Publishing Company
2180 Gulfstream, Suite A
Prescott, AZ 86301
(800) 899-7810