There was little to romanticise in 20th-century warfare, as detailed in Alamein: War Without Hate
. The bloody stalemate of the First World War trenches and the stark confrontation between a genocidal dictatorship and the forces of democracy in the Second World War could not be given the gloss of "chivalry" and "fair play" applied to the less mechanised slaughter of battles in previous centuries. The exception was the North African campaign, the Krieg ohne Hass
(War without Hate), as it was described by the German commander Rommel. The myth of a desert war that was somehow "cleaner" and more noble than the fighting on other Second World War fronts has been perpetuated both by veterans of North Africa and by some historians.
In their fine account of the struggle between Rommel's Afrika Korps and Montgomery's Eighth Army which culminated in the second Battle of Alamein, Bierman and Smith replace myth with reality. However, they do show that the desert war was different from the other theatres of war. There is some basis to the myth of the "war without hate" and a good deal of the credit for this can be given to the German commander. Not that Bierman and Smith are primarily interested in the personalities of senior commanders. Even the pen portraits of Rommel and Montgomery are slightly perfunctory. What they want most to do is to provide a clear and readable narrative of events unfolding in North Africa from 1940 to 1943 and how they affected the ordinary soldiers who fought on both sides. In this they have succeeded admirably. Their book refuses to romanticise the desert war but, by giving so striking an account of its reality, does a different kind of justice to the men who fought in it. --Nick Rennison
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"A first class account of the arduous hunt to run Rommel to ground.' -- John Crossland, Sunday Times, best military history books of 2002
'A new definitive account of the desert battle.' -- Daily Mail, September 2002
'Excellent...A remarkabled achievement...Few historians write as fluently as Bierman and Smith...one of the most successful Western Desert narratives.' -- John Keegan in Daily Telegraph, October 2002
'Peppered with... fascinating insights...and the authors manage to fill the entire canvas of the desert war.' -- Herald, September 2002
'big pacey read... panorama of the desert fighting up to the sacking of Auchinleck and the arrival of Montgomery.' -- Allan Mallison, The Times, September 2002