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No episode in modern warfare can match the drama and romance of the 1942-1943 North African campaign, in which its undisputed hero, even for his British adversaries, was German commander Erwin Rommel. For nearly two years, outnumbered and undersupplied, the Desert Fox led his celebrated Afrika Korps to one brilliant victory after another, until he was finally overwhelmed by the sheer weight of men and materiel of the combined forces of Eisenhower and Montgomery (who were enormously aided by their ability to intercept secret German battle plans). Serving at Rommel's side throughout his desert campaigns was the book's author, his South African-born Aide-de-Camp. Schmidt was with the legendary General from his first victories at El Agheila and Abedabia, in triumph at Tobruk, and in defeat before El Alamein.
Dispensing with the larger-than-life image of propaganda and legend, the author provides a close-up portrait of Rommel the officer and Rommel the man as he confronts the challenges of a new kind of warfare in a harsh, unforgiving environment. This firsthand account puts the reader at Rommel's side as he bends over battle maps in his command tent, planning a new attack or anticipating the next enemy onslaught. Written with dry humor and warm human sympathy for the soldiers of all sides, the author provides a detailed, objective account of Rommel's desert campaigns. More than that, he takes the reader bounding across the Libyan desert in a Panzer outside Tobruk, dining on fresh-shot gazelle in the north African desert, and dodging rifle bullets and tank shells in dozens of engagements from Egypt to Tunisia. It is all here, commented the Irish Press on this military classic, the thrust and counter thrust, the stratagems and deceptions practised on great armies, the deadly surprises and in the end the wholesale and complete defeat.
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