Heraldry has been described as "the shorthand of history" and "the floral border in the garden of history."[20] Although the term originally applied to military and familial coats of arms and related badges, the communist nations created a new form of heraldry, substituting political and industrial insignia for military symbols in badges and awards. Since the communist forms of heraldry cannot be found in standard reference works on the subject—though the topic has received new attention with the fall of communism—Ralph Pickard has taken a step in the direction of preserving a piece of the East German heraldic record with his new reference work, Stasi Decorations and Memorabilia. All the items in the book are in his private collection. As Ambassador Hugh Montgomery notes in his foreword to the book, Soviet heraldic influence prevailed and the Stasi "abandoned all efforts to retain any ties to German historical precedent."

After a short historical overview of the Stasi organization, the book contains high quality color photographs of most of the medals, awards, and commemorative coins—even document covers—issued by the Stasi. Detailed specifications are indicated for each item so one may in verify authenticity. An unusual aspect of Stasi heraldry are the coins honoring former spies and espionage networks even when the officers involved included Soviet agents. The Rote Kapelle network is an example; native German, but GRU agent, Richard Sorge and his radioman Max Clausen are another (238-44).

The non-German reader will need a dictionary because the German terms on the items are not translated. Likewise, the table of contents is in German. Future editions of the book would do well to include translations.

Overall, this is a valuable and impressive reference work.

Hayden B. Peake, The Intelligence Officer's Bookshelf
Center for the Study of Intelligence - Publication
Studies in Intelligence – Review
September 2008 Volume 52, Number 3
Page 52