This book, from front cover to back cover is a masterful compilation of eye popping data not before disclosed to the general public, nor collectors interested in this particular subject. Collector's in general will be delighted to find that because much of the awards and documents awarded the Stasi, are similar to their NVA and MdI counterpart, much of the material transcends to these two other DDR military organizations. The collecttherefore will find much of the material useful for collecting awards and decorations pursuant not to just the Stasi, but also the NVA and MdI. That is for sure welcome news and especially the detail in which the book goes with respect to the specifics of the medals and the award documents is very deep.

This book is absolutely a treasure trove of information about the Stasi from inception of its organization to its demise in 1989. It is unlike any book heretofore published about any aspect of East Germany or its militaryorganizations. Just like the Stasi, the book is in and of itself, unique. It is historical, and then so much more. It goes into depth with respect to the awards and decorations awarded members of the Stasi, beyond anything comprehensible. I am in awe at the knowledge base Ralph has acquired and amassed with respect to this subject matter, about which the book reveals he truly is an expert.

Upon acquiring a copy, one needs to scrutinize the photos in the book very carefully. There are many surprises and it readily becomes apparent that the Stasi was like no other military organization of the DDR, and members of its organization wore their awards differently from that of the other military organizations. This is but one small hint at the voluminous information that is captured in this wonderfully constructed, detailed andinformative book. There are versions of some medals heretofore not seen by members of the collecting community, myself included. And I count myself as having an extensive collection of DDR medals.

If one has been hesitant to collect medals and certificates, because they are costly and there are many fakes and counterfeits on the market, this book will go a long way to alleviating those collecting fears. The detail in which the author (Ralph) has gone to expose the real from the fake is painstakingly voluminous. It will make even the most jaded novice an expert.

Not inclusive of the Contents page, Acknowledgments, Foreword, Introduction, Index and Bibliography, the book is 246 pages long. This book is large and the pictures, of which many are in color, are crisp and clear, as are examples that are included. The book is intelligently laid out and follows a clear and concise order that makes it easy to read and to also single out and go directly to specific subject matter, should the reader be so inclined.

The Foreword, written by Ambassador Hugh Montgomery is brilliantly done. It sets the tone for the entire book and what is to follow. It goes a great deal toward placing the reader into the Cold War setting as it was when the awards and decorations about which the book addresses, and its organization - The Stasi - were active. If you like your table fare set with intangibles associated to the Cold War Spy arena, then this book will satisfy even the hungriest avid connoisseurs.

Bon Appetite

Michael Gallagher