This is the ninth volume in the ongoing Famous Russian Aircraft series, although the books are not numbered in any fashion. It is reminiscent of the previous volume covering the Su-7 "Fitter" family of aircraft in that it reads like two books bound between the same covers. The Tu-22 "Blinder" and the Tu-22M "Backfire" were two completely different aircraft with nothing in common besides the design bureau that conceived them but as the book makes clear they are nevertheless closely related politically so the decision to cover them in the same book is perfectly sound.
There are 10 chapters in the book with 5 devoted to each aircraft. There is an introductory chapter that details the origin of the aircraft and the initial trials. There is a chapter describing the different versions of each aircraft including experimental and one off designs. There is a chapter for each describing the details of the aircraft. Finally, there is a long chapter detailing the service history for each of the two aircraft. There is a chapter that details the Tu-22 in foreign service (the Tu-22M wasn't exported). There is also a bridge chapter between the two halves of the book.
There are four appendices: a production list for each type and descriptions of the in service losses that each aircraft suffered. There were many more Tu-22 than Tu-22M accidents and the accounts make for fascinating reading.
All is excellent and the photographic coverage is first rate with many outstanding color photos. There are also numerous contemporary technical drawings reproduced which supplement the text perfectly. There are also numerous color profiles of the aircraft but the schemes did not vary widely in Soviet/Russian service; Iraqi and Libyan Tu-22s offer the most variation.
The extensive service histories are very detailed. As is well known author Gordon "calls them as he sees them" and his accounts of the origins of the Chechen and Georgian conflicts will raise eyebrows in western countries. But Gordon is by no means merely a Soviet/Russian apologist; he can be quite critical at times. Whether one shares them or not his viewpoints add much interest to the book.
The book is a fourfold expansion to the book Gordon did on the same aircraft over a decade ago in the now defunct Aerofax series. Not surprisingly the present book completely blows the earlier one away in virtually every respect save one. The line drawings in the earlier book are better. The Tu-22 drawings are copied from the earlier book; the Tu-22M ones are new. Nevertheless, the drawings in the earlier book are more extensive.
Highly recommended. I hope there are many more in this series to come.