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Campaign 196: Gazala 1942: Rommel's greatest victory (Campaign) Paperback – 10 May 2008

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Campaign 196: Gazala 1942: Rommel's greatest victory (Campaign) + Operation Crusader 1941: Rommel in Retreat (Campaign) + El Alamein, 1942: The Turning of the Tide (Campaign)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Osprey Publishing (10 May 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846032644
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846032646
  • Product Dimensions: 18.4 x 0.3 x 24.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 77,306 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Ford's book is a brief but masterful study of Rommel at the height of his power as he swept the British Eighth Army back to the site of their decisive stand at El Alamein." -"World War II History" (March 2009) "Ken Ford's" Gazala 1942: Rommel's Greatest Victory "provides an in-depth, technical survey of the Rommel military campaign and battle experiences, studying him at the height of his powers and surveying his strategy. Color maps and vintage black and white photos throughout enhance a moving account." -"The Bookwatch "(September 2008) "The author covers the usual sections of a book in Osprey's Campaign series. It has a build up to the battle, a look at opposing commanders and their armies. Then it covers both the Allied and German plans at the time before going into the battle itself. This part consumes much of the book and provides significant detail of each day of the fighting. This is all followed by the results of the battle and how it affected future actions, which in the desert war, often resulted in major change."- Scott Van Aken, "modelingmadness.com" (July 2008)

About the Author

Ken Ford was born in Hampshire in 1943. He trained as an engineer and spent almost thirty years in the telecommunications industry before a change in career led him to become a full time military historian. He is the author of over twenty books on various aspects of World War II including Campaign 158 El Alamein. Ken now lives in Southampton, UK.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Gisli Jokull Gislason VINE VOICE on 20 Jun. 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am quite impressed with the text of Gazala 1942 - Rommel's greatest victory. This campaign book fits very nicely between Tobruk 1941 (Campaign 80) and El Alamein 1942 (Campaign 158) and together they bring a very clear picture of the desert war. Especially since Gazala begins with an overview of Crusader that lifted the siege of Tobruk and ends at the First Battle of El Alamein.

Ken Ford manages to paint a clear picture of events and captures the highlights well as the reasons for them, the defiant and brave stands of the 150 Brigade of the 50 "Northumbrian" Division and the Free Franch Brigade at Bir Hacheim. Both stands showed the quality of the allied troops but the British High Command failed to utilize them to their advantage.

The different style of leadership is clearly portrayed, Rommel leading from the front and even taking command at platoon level to see an attack through while the British leaders failed time and time again, not obeying orders and failing to understand the concepts of tank warfare. At Gazala the British had for the first time a tank that could match the Germans - the Grant and a powerful enough anti-tank gun the 6 pdr. With numerical superiority their rigid and static thinking became their bane. I have read quite a few books on the Desert War and I think this one captures Gazala best in the big picture.

There are plenty of maps, and these are usually good but have a hurried feel at times since the unit markings are sometimes wrong (like Trento and Brescia are labled as tank divisions on one map but were in fact infantry divisions) so bad proof reading there. But overall the maps are plentiful and appropriate to the text.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By N. Brown VINE VOICE on 5 Mar. 2010
Format: Paperback
First, it must be said that this account of the Battle of Gazala in 1942 should be welcomed as there are few, if any, standalone books covering this subject. Normally readers would have to go to more general histories of the Western Desert campaign or biographies of Rommel himself. Whilst there are numerous books on Tobruk and El Alamein, this crushing defeat for the British & Commonwealth forces remains mainly as a the background to Monty's eventual triumph five months later at the 2nd Battle of El Alamein.

Unlike Ken Ford's previous title covering the three battles around El Alamein, this book doesn't have to bite off more than it can chew. The scale and scope of Gazala fits very neatly into the Osprey format without is feeling either padded or compressed. As a result this is one of the better Osprey Campaign titles seen for a while.

As always with Osprey's publications, there is no room for personal accounts and testimonies by the combatants, and in this case that is a loss to what is otherwise a pretty engaging narrative. The descriptions of the battles around the 150th Brigade's stand in `The Cauldron' and the French defence of Bir Hachein both stand out. The accounts of the armour battles though are less well explained but this is probably due to the confused nature of the fighting and the limited space that Osprey permit.

In addition to the lack of personal witness accounts, the things that let this title down are the maps, which I found hard to follow but the real disappointment is the original artwork. I have criticised the work done by John White before, but of the two pieces here, one sets a new low even by the generally disappointing work done by this illustrator and I fail to understand why Osprey's Editors allowed it to go into print as it is so poor.

Despite my disappointment with parts of this publication, they are not enough to stop me recommending it as one of better Campaign titles in recent years.
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Ken Ford has done several titles for Osprey about the Desert campaign in WW2. These volumes by Osprey are all characterised by crisp analysis, clear text and good illustrations. Ken Ford is very good at making sense of the tactics, the men and machines and weaving this into a clear narrative of the campaign and its importance.

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By Dale on 3 May 2015
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Solid, but Uninspired and Parochial 5 Jun. 2008
By R. A Forczyk - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Up front, I would say the Ken Ford's Gazala 1942: Rommel's Greatest Victory, Osprey's Campaign No. 196, is better than his previous El Alamein 1942: The Turning of the Tide. The author continues to use his method of grinding out campaign histories based upon easily available secondary sources, resulting in little if any value-added content over previous works, but this one is fairly well-written and provides a nice, Cliff Notes-style summary of this important campaign. I would rate it excellent for beginners on the subject, but much less useful for specialists in the North African campaign. Overall, Gazala 1942 is a solid and coherent, albeit uninspired and parochial, summary of one of the critical campaigns in North Africa in the Second World War.

Gazala 1942: Rommel's Greatest Victory has six 2-D maps (Operation Crusader; Rommel's attack on the Gazala line; Operation Aberdeen, 5 June 1942; 8th Army's Withdrawal and Rommel's Attack on Tobruk; 8th Army's Retreat to the El Alamein line) but only two 3-D BEV maps (Armored battles near Knightsbridge, 12-13 June 1942; Action at Matruh, 26-28 June 1942). Graphically, the maps are very nice but only depict the actions of divisions and brigades; it would have been useful to use the BEVs to show a more tactical operation like the tank battles around Knightsbridge at company/battalion-level. Readers may note that the two battle scenes by artist John White (a British Hurricane strafes a German convoy in the desert; the defense of Bir Hakeim) only depict the Allied viewpoint, aside from adding little to the narrative. The parochial nature of this volume is particularly evident in the photos used and the bibliography. A total of 61 of the 66 photos appearing in the volume are from the Imperial War Museum, a number of which have appeared many times before in other books. Looking through the bibliography, it is apparent that no German or Italian sources were consulted and that the author relied entirely on traditional English-language secondary sources, which means that readers will not be exposed to anything but the standard historiography that has been knocking about for the past three decades.

The opening sections outline the origins of the campaign, opposing leaders and opposing plans are all decently done and serve as an excellent introduction to the campaign narrative. However, the section on opposing armies is a bit weak (it virtually ignores the Italians) since it only gives the barest forces comparisons (no mention of artillery or logistic capabilities, air power glossed over too quickly). The author also undermines his credibility by routinely mis-identifying German equipment; for example, in a photo on page 24 he describes an 15cm s.FH18 howitzer as "an 88mm antiaircraft gun" and on page 58 a Pz I tank is described as a "Pz II." The order of battle only identifies brigades and divisions - no corps/army attachments and no air units. Several times the author mentions the German unit "Group Hecker" without ever specifying what this unit was (a detailed description is available on the internet). In the plans section, it might have also been useful to mention the role of Ultra and German SIGINT in shaping the respective plans, but there is virtually no discussion of the impact of intelligence and even less on logistics.

The 48-page campaign narrative is divided into four main sections: Rommel attacks, the Cauldron, the failure of British armor and the loss of Tobruk. It's a conventional telling, with only limited tactical perspective, but it does suffice to get the job done. The 10-page aftermath section details the British retreat into Egypt, the action at Matruh and the withdrawal into the El Alamein positions. Readers will note that the author offers no insight or analysis of why the British lost this campaign and fails to provide any kind of total casualty figures. The final section on The Battlefield Today, is a throw-away, which merely relates that there are some cemeteries near Tobruk and that somewhere on the internet, there is a group that run battlefield tours to Tobruk. Quite lame, really. In short, Gazala 1942: Rommel's Greatest Victory serves well if all you need is a quick, synthesized look at this important battle, but it fails to provide even a glimmer of new information for historians, specialist readers or military professionals.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Good text marred by sloppy prints and sometimes hurried maps 7 Jan. 2010
By Gisli Jokull Gislason - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I am quite impressed with the text of Gazala 1942 - Rommel's greatest victory. This campaign book fits very nicely between Tobruk 1941 (Campaign 80) and El Alamein 1942 (Campaign 158) and together they bring a very clear picture of the desert war. Especially since Gazala begins with an overview of Crusader that lifted the siege of Tobruk and ends at the First Battle of El Alamein.

Ken Ford manages to paint a clear picture of events and captures the highlights well as the reasons for them, the defiant and brave stands of the 150 Brigade of the 50 "Northumbrian" Division and the Free Franch Brigade at Bir Hacheim. Both stands showed the quality of the allied troops but the British High Command failed to utilize them to their advantage.

The different style of leadership is clearly portrayed, Rommel leading from the front and even taking command at platoon level to see an attack through while the British leaders failed time and time again, not obeying orders and failing to understand the concepts of tank warfare. At Gazala the British had for the first time a tank that could match the Germans - the Grant and a powerful enough anti-tank gun the 6 pdr. With numerical superiority their rigid and static thinking became their bane. I have read quite a few books on the Desert War and I think this one captures Gazala best in the big picture.

There are plenty of maps, and these are usually good but have a hurried feel at times since the unit markings are sometimes wrong (like Trento and Brescia are labled as tank divisions on one map but were in fact infantry divisions) so bad proof reading there. But overall the maps are plentiful and appropriate to the text.

There are only 2 colour plates in this book which is less than standard but that is fine since one is below medium and the other is plain bad and neither adds anything to the book. There are however plenty of good photographs from the battle that make up for this and the book would have been better had the colour plates been omitted altogether.

So with a well written and informative text by Ken Ford and very good photographs I recommend this book. It is good that this important battle has the attention it deserves.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Good foundation for further study 19 Sept. 2008
By L. Myers - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I always have a good feeling when I put a book down for the last time knowing more than I did before. And so it is with Ford's GAZALA. Following the normal format of this series, he places the battle in its historical context along with explaining the strategy, tactics, equipment, organization and leaders who figure prominently in the campaign. Ford writes well, making the ebb and flow of the battle easy to follow without overwhelming the reader with too much detail. Overall he does an excellent job, making what was a very fluid situation understandable. The only down side to GAZALA was the topographical map depicting the actions of June 12-13 1942. While well drawn, giving the reader a good idea concerning the lay of the land, unit symbols are replaced by letters and events by numbers which leaves you either confused and/or frustrated. This aside, this is a great starting point for anyone interested in this critical battle of the Desert War.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Very comprehensive, good straight to the point format 27 May 2010
By Kevin Nazario Bartolomei - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This volume is about 92 pages long but is jam packed with all types of details about the Gazala campaing. it has a nice narrative style and should be enough for the amateur military historian and Rommelniac. Quite nice, I probably will purchase more from this author.
0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
An in-depth, technical survey of the Rommel military campaign 5 Sept. 2008
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Ken Ford's GAZALA 1942: ROMMEL'S GREATEST VICTORY provides an in-depth, technical survey of the Rommel military campaign and battle experiences, studying him at the height of his powers and survey his strategy. Color maps and vintage black and white photos throughout enhance a moving account.
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