Being a longtime user and peruser of Alexandr Vasilevich Viskovatov's seminal works on the Russian army during the Napoleonic Wars, I was surprised when the regular flyer from On Military Matters, contained a listing for eight volumes of Mark Conrad's English translation that have been a staple reference for years. To me, these are the definitive sources for researching the Russian Napoleonic army in general and the early 1796-1801 Russians in particular.Produced by the Italian publisher Soldiershop Publishing (www.Soldiershop.com), I immediately brought up Soldiershop's website to confirm. Sure enough! Not only are these works available in paperback print editions but the series is available in an eBook Kindle format as well.
From the series description on The Soldiershop's website, it summarizes the Viskovatov works as,
Compiled at Saint Petersburg during the year from 1837 and 1851, the Historical Description of the Clothing and Arms of the Russian Army has had an enormous impact and great importance for the study on the history of Russian costume and uniformology development over the past centuries . There is various ancient editions of the work, Mark Conrad’s translation is the first and the better to remain true to the original structure and essential style of the text. Conrad’s comprehensive translation is an indispensable resource for today's historian, strategists, and scholars. The Viskovatov’s enormous work is based on a great quantity of archival documents and contains four thousand colored and b/w illustrations. It is composed by 30 or 34 volumes (1st edition 1-30, St. Petersburg, 1841-62, and 2nd edition Vols. 1-34, St. Petersburg - Novosibirsk - Leningrad, 1899-1948). The topics discussed start from the early czars until the late nineteenth century. Soldiershop edition add at this important work several new enriched and colorful plates, which together with the unedited publication in English make this collection extremely interesting !
Russian organization and uniform changes are difficult to identify and follow without Conrad's translation of Viskovatov. Difficult? I say almost impossible. Conrad clarifies much of the nuanced Regulation changes implemented especially during the early Napoleonic period.
With Conrad's English translations and Viskovatov's uniform plates available on the internet, what do these editions add to warrant purchase? For one, the reader obtains the Russian organization, uniform information and plates collated into an individual volume. On the internet, Conrad's translations are separate from the hundreds of uniform plates. This separation makes it cumbersome to match the information to the plate.
Second, the reader has two choices in which to receive this information. The choices are either hard copy in paperback or digitally in Kindle format. As a sample, I ordered the digital version of Volume 1 via Amazon.com. Instantaneously, I have this wonderful work available on my tablet for reference.
Third, are the uniform plates themselves. Rather than the black and white illustrations in the internet version of Viskovatov, many of the Soldiershop's plates have seen colorization and enhancement, all having English descriptions.
If interested in the Russian Army during the Napoleonic Wars and do not wish to trudge through Viskovatov and Conrad on your own, these offerings from Soldiershop are highly recommended.