At Kasserine in French Tunisia, a major US army met the Germans for the first time in battle, and was defeated.
In the Pass at Kasserine, the US II Corps, 30,000 inexperienced young American soldiers, commanded by generals who had last seen action 25 years before, met Rommel's veterans of the Afrika Korps.
Not only were the lives of these young Americans, and those of the French and British soldiers who rushed to their support, at stake, but as they reeled back under the blow other vital questions were being asked.
Could the Americans stand up to the German veterans? How good was the GIs' training?
Could their generals really command in combat after a quarter of a century of garrison duty?
Most important of all, would these same Americans be capable of invading Fortress Europe?
This inauspicious beginning to a vital campaign rocked US Military confidence and the lessons learned were harsh.
Kasserine brought together the commanders who would finally fight that decisive campaign in N. W. Europe: Eisenhower, badly beaten in his first engagement and fearful for his career; `Blood an' Guts' Patton, already nearly 60, desperate for glory and busy emerging as the saviour of the reputation of the US Army; Rommel the Desert Fox, weary and sick, achieving his final victory of the war; and 'smiling Albert' Kesselring, who did not understand the meaning of defeat, fighting on to the bitter end.
Charles Whiting has written a hard-hitting and well constructed account of the events leading up to the Battle of Kasserine and of the battle itself. Once again he reveals all the skills that make him one of our most popular World War II historians.
Charles Whiting is the author of numerous history books on the Second World War. Under the pen name of Leo Kessler he also wrote a series of bestselling military thrillers, including ‘Guns at Cassino’ and ‘Valley of the Assassins’.
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