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Book Review: Communist Bloc Handguns by George Layman

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There is not really a good reference book available on Communist Bloc pistols – or at least there wasn’t until now. George Layman has just released this overview of Cold War handguns from the USSR, Bulgaria, China, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, North Korea, Poland, Romania, and Yugoslavia. At 157 pages total, however, the level of detail on each individual firearm is necessarily brief. While the work is a pretty nice overview for the idly curious, it does not include much information that isn’t pretty easily found online (including a number of misconceptions).

That said, it’s not a bad book. The illustration is well done, and it is very nice as a single-stop reference on the basic handguns of the period. In particular, I found this to be true for the Tokarev pistols, as they were manufactured by a bunch of different countries with each national variation being a bit different in some way. Layman’s book is a nice handy reference for understanding what those differences are. Unfortunately, it doesn’t go into much more detail on things like rare variations, production totals, or any details about development of the various pistols. There are many personal anecdotes about the author’s experiences with various examples of the guns over the course of a long military career, but unfortunately little formal research.

At a cover price of $39.95 I think the book is priced a bit high for its contents, but for folks specifically interested in the Cold War period there are not many other books available to choose from.

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