Steel Teeth of Hell

A Combat Chronicle of a WWII Tank Crew

Non-Fiction - Military
204 Pages
Reviewed on 07/12/2011
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Stefan Vucak for Readers' Favorite

From the Normandy beaches, Sergeant Tony Gilbert leads his company of tanks into France. His sole objective is to kill German tanks and to survive each encounter. The American Sherman Tanks are smaller, lightly armed and armored; no match for the heavy Tigers, and the Germans take their toll. Promoted to lieutenant because there are not enough officers to go around and equipped with more modern tanks, Gilbert continues his march toward Germany. At war’s end, he ends up in Berlin, toasting victory with the Russians.

Steel Teeth of Hell is well researched and plunges the reader unapologetically into raw tank warfare that has a single purpose: kill or be blown up. Orders are received and the tankers obey them, whether they makes sense or not, and the Germans don’t give anyone time to try and figure things out. The book is non-stop action from page one, with an occasional human touch that reminds the reader life exists outside mangled metal, body parts and blood.

For those who love a straight narrative, unencumbered by any plotting or characterization, this book will draw them in. However, these same qualities also leave disappointed those readers who are looking for depth, the human element, emotion, suffering and mental anguish that unremitting combat brings. The repetitive action sequences tend to become somewhat off-putting and read like a diary. What distracts from genuinely enjoying the book is the heavy font where everything is in capitals, making reading difficult. Instead of incorporating blurred photographs, it might have been better not to have them there.

Tony Gilbert has a pithy, no-nonsense writing style that lends itself to action books. By endowing his characters with genuine personalities that act within a rounded, less ambitious story framework, war would be presented to readers far more vividly. Nevertheless, The Steel Teeth of Hell is well worth the ride.