Uniforms Uniforms


Drum Majorette, Freeport, Long Island, USA (Image: Corbis  / Bettmann) on the Front Cover of Uniforms by Bill Dunn


A second-hand find, this picture rich 2009 book  by Bill Dunn is now out of print but was published by Lawrence King.com (a publisher of many fashion and textile books). It contains 294 pictures, 247 in colour.

Bill Dunn is a style editor, having worked on GQ, Esquire and LV magazines. As a result, he brings a different feel to this book than a military historian might. Full of uniform pictures, mostly in colour, Dunn uses familiar film stills as well as colour photos from all over the world to illustrate the very short essay at the start of each section. Overall , Dunn wants to know “why is it a good idea for people to look the same? Nothing sums up the power of the ‘We’ like a uniform.”


The book illustrates the role of uniforms for every job role  from Hitler and The Pope and his Papal Swiss Guards to traffic wardens in Britain and Vietnam, from Boy Scouts to bunny girls,  from fast food restaurants in the USA to policemen in Korea, from air hostesses to schoolchildren in Japan.


The book is interesting for the gamer or creator of Imagi-Nations uniforms.

One of my favourite ornate uniforms in the book  is shown on the back cover – the mystery of who wears this smart get-up is revealed on page 78/79. They are Monaco police officers in their dress uniforms. Intriguingly, one of them has paratroop wings!

Italian Carabinieri and Monaco police officers, shown in Uniforms by Bill Dunn.  Left photo from Corbis / Paul Almaty and (Right) Getty /AFP/ Valery Hache.

The captions are both informative and witty in places – the Carabinieri picture is captioned “Giant Italian Police (Carabinieri) in front of very small people in the Piazza del Duomo in Milan.” Pure Slinkachu or model village, this.

The Future section covers Astronauts to Science Fiction films and some bizarre past visions of the future.

Uniforms by Bill Dunn covers equally male and female uniforms, military, police  and civilian. Ukrainian female paratroopers (women make up 10% of their armed forces) share the page with Indonesian women soldiers with sub machine guns trying to march on parade in absurdly  tight skirts!

Moroccan Army parade uniforms c. 2000 (Corbis / SYGMA/ Robert Patrick)

My other favourite elaborate Imagi-Nations uniform is the parade dress of male and female members of the Moroccan army, c. 2000.

This book sets up such smart military and police parade uniforms up against civialian uniforms of drum majorettes and cinema or hotel Commissionaires to show the similarities and differences. If you’re not in the military or public services, it’s not always called a uniform, it’s called “career apparel” (or workwear).

The chapter introductions are quite interesting. Uniform is something you (have to) wear to show belonging, sometimes to show Authority but paradoxically of also being under Authority – you have to wear what you’re told. It reminds me of many of my Dad’s stories about the importance of spotless kit, shiny boots, berets and shapeless uniforms to a National Serviceman, some of which I shared last month.


Uniforms by Bill Dunn is as interesting to flick through and dip into as Preben Kannik’s Military Uniforms of the World in Colour (Blandford, 1967/8). I am happily reminded of the section in Harry Pearson’s gaming memoir Achtung Schweinhund when he talks about endlessly poring through this library book trying to make lists of which is the coolest and most impressive, the worst or most curious uniform.  I’m sure we all did this in our own ways. But that’s for another blogpost …

If you like uniform books or creating Imagi-Nations troops, Uniforms by Bill Dunn is well worth ordering  online secondhand. It has some inserting points to make about the uniforms that many of us, military or civilian, choose or are forced to wear throughout life from childhood onwards.

Blosposted by Mark, Man of TIN, July 9th 2017.

The Soldier book by Chris McNab

Front cover of The Soldier by Chris McNab published by Parragon, 2016

On a trip to the local garden centre, I brought back something different from the usual seeds and plants (a sometime garden wargamer has to have some greenery).

It wasn’t unusual buildings,  ruined bridges or temples etc from the cut price shelf of the Aquarium section.

It was this interesting book (a snip at £5, 2016 publishers price £16) called The Soldier by Chris McNab, spotted amongst the colouring books, Sudoku, celebrity biographies and paperback fictional murders and romance.

Last week I spotted the same book in branches of The Works in their History section for about the same price. I bought some of Cordery’s Composite Cavalry as they are known on Wargaming Miscellany instead, reduced to 50p each. There were still a lot of leftover Tiger saddlecloth officers (Murat?)

What caught my attention were the Uniform and Kit pages, such as the American War of Independence Grenadier below.


sample page AWI Grenadier – pure Airfix OO/HO

I wasn’t sure how the pics were done at first glance – were they photographs of re-enactors or fine illustrations? The illustrations (by Simon Smith and Matthew Vince)  were enough to sell me the book, possibly even at full price.

However they were done, I liked the  attention to small detail, explaining how the uniforms and kit worked. There are some interesting snippets or captions on the why as well as the what equipment soldiers carried where.





Written by Chris McNab, as ever it is sometimes difficult to find who did the editing and illustrations, usually buried away in the credits / end pages. Attractively illustrated with archive photographs, there are also examples of the work of  some famous historical illustrators such as Don Troiani.

IMG_1468The figure or uniform illustrations reach the American War of Independence through to modern day Middle East conflicts as can be seen on the back cover.


at first glance through, I liked some of the more unusual choices amid the standard Waterloo British infantryman, Union troops etc.


Overall the book has the compact feel of one of those repackaged  book compilations of expensive monthly partworks with hand-painted figures (probably the origin of Cordery’s Composite Budget Cavalry again at the Works again!)

The figures illustrated on half pages are:

British Grenadier, 1756

Prussian Hussar, 1756

Greanadier, Hessen-Darmstadt Leib Grenadiers, 1759

Russian Grenadiers, 1756

Senior British Officer, 25th Foot, 1756

Minuteman, Culpeper County, 1775

Private, Hall’s Delaware Regiment, 1780 (see back Cover figure 3)

Officer, Butler’s Rangers, 1781

Grenadier, 17th Foot, 1777 (illustrated above)

French Hussar, 1780

George Washington, 1781

Line Infantry Fusilier, 1804 (see back cover figure 2)

French Sapper, 1807

Russian Grenadier, 1806

French Guard Horse Artilleryman, 1806

Prussian trumpeter, 1815

British Infantry Private, 1812 (see back cover figure 1)

Sergeant North British Dragoons, Waterloo (the front cover figure)

Union Infantryman, 1863 (see back Cover figure 4 )

Confederate Infantryman, 1863

Sharpshooter, 1st USSS, 1862

Artilleryman, 1864 (Union Coloured Troops)

British Infantryman, 1879 (Zulu Wars)

Indian Rebel Sowar, 1857 (Indian Mutiny)

British Captain, 21st Foot, 1881

Trooper, Natal Carabineers, 1899 (see back cover figure 5 )

French Foreign Legion Trooper, 1867

Zulu Warrior, 1879

Private, German East Asian Brigade, 1900 (Boxer Rebellion)

Trooper,  21st Lancers, Omdurman 1898

Tuscan Jager, 1848 (illustrated above)

Bavarian Trooper 1870 (FPW)

French Army Infantryman, 1871 (FPW)

Russian Hussar 1854 (Crimea)

US Army Soldier, Cuba, 1898

Japanese Soldier 1904 (Russo Japanese War)

French Infantryman, 1914

Russian Infantryman, 1915

US Private, 1917

Captain, Royal Engineers, WW1

British Infantryman, Somme, 1916 (see back cover figure 6)

German Stormtrooper, 1918

British Infantryman, WW2

German Infantryman, 1940

British Private, Lancashire Fusiliers, North Africa

German Panzergrenadier, 1944

German Sniper, 1945

US Paratrooper, D-Day June 1944

US Marine, Pacific 1944

Japanese Private, Malaya, 1941

Australian Infantryman, New Guinea 1943

Waffen-SS Trooper, 1944

US Army Sergeant, Pacific 1945

US Infantryman, Korea, 1950

Viet Minh Soldier, Indochina, 1952

North Vietnamese Army Soldier, 1965

US Marine, Vietnam, 1968

Israeli Paratrooper, Six Day War, 1967

Russian Soldier, Afghanistan, 1986

US Soldier Special Ops, Afghanistan (see back cover figure 7)

Iraqi Fedayeen Fighter, 2003

How many more reasons do you need to buy this book?

At 23 / 24 mm tall these illustrations of the front of a soldier are almost Action Man Size.

Well worth a look and the asking price.

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN blog, March 2017