SNIPER: ONE ON ONE by Adrian Gilbert


The World of Combat Sniping
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 An exhaustive, ice-cold briefing that tracks the martial art of sniping from colonial America through the brushfire conflicts of the present day. Focusing on how regular (as opposed to guerrilla) ground forces have employed snipers over the years, British historian Gilbert traces the origins of long-range sharpshooting to the late 18th century, when rifles began to replace muskets as the military's primary weapons. He goes on to show how snipers (named after an elusive game bird) proved their tactical value for both sides in the US Civil War, visiting sudden death on unsuspecting foes at long distances. The author offers a wealth of anecdotal evidence documenting how snipers continued to distinguish themselves on killing grounds throughout the world, thanks to constant advances in the design of bolt-action firearms, high- velocity bullets, telescopic sights, and allied tools of the lethal trade. At almost every opportunity, Gilbert stresses the economy of sniping, which in certain circumstances can make a single rifleman as effective as an infantry squad. In Vietnam, for example, troops fired 50,000 rounds for each enemy casualty, while sniper/spotter teams expended 1.7 rounds per kill. Precision of this order is not easily achieved, and the author devotes considerable attention to the rigorous training required to develop a first-rate sniper. Covered as well are such topics as the antipathy of field-grade officers toward lone-wolf operatives not under their direct command, camouflage, the countermeasures available to those being stalked, the intelligence potential of snipers, wound ballistics (a section the squeamish would be well advised to skip), and the future of freelance combatants in the age of electronic battlefields. The low-key text also provides detailed technical specifications on the sniper rifles and ammunition used by Western nations. Gilbert's very specialized manual of arms will appeal to the Soldier of Fortune crowd as well as military history buffs. (16 pages photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Feb. 20th, 1995
ISBN: 0-312-11894-5
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1994


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