Review: The Imperial Infantryman's Handbook / Author: Graham McNeil / Publisher: Black Library / Release Date: November 27th
About a decade ago, there was a trend for pocket-sized, novelty survival handbooks. Advice was available for enduring robot uprisings, zombie attacks, Dalek invasions and all sort of other nonsense. The Black Library produced its own version, The Imperial Infantryman's Uplifiting Primer, which sold out surprisingly quickly. The original book was crammed with in-universe commentary on what it would be like to be an Imperial Guardsman, Warhammer 40K’s version of cannon fodder. Its popularity prompted a revised edition and a similar book, filled with more technical information about the sort of equipment one of these frontline troopers would have to handle.
The Imperial Infantryman's Handbook is the latest iteration of this series, combining the lions-share of information from the previous books into one chunky volume. If you are not familiar with the setting, the entire thing will not mean much to you; all of the humour in the book is derived from the fact that the Imperial Guard are treated very poorly by their superiors, and are lied to about the nature of the threats they have to face.
The book is filled with propaganda and out-and-out lies, underlying the grisly fate that the hapless soldiers face. It’s filled with diagrams, illustrations, prayers to the Emperor, requisition forms and other needless bureaucracy. It makes for a terrible survival manual (it won’t even help you survive an Ork invasion), and it’s very biased as far as a source book goes; which is the entire point.
Part artefact, part humour book, The Imperial Infantryman's Handbook is a prop that would delight Imperial Guard cosplayers, table top roleplayers and other fans of let’s pretend. It’s well made, sharply written, and totally useless to non-fans. But if you’re looking to fill the stocking of a fan, this will do nicely.