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Knight's Cross: The Life of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel Hardcover – Feb 1994

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; 1st U.S. Ed edition (Feb. 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060182229
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060182229
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 16.5 x 24.1 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,243,774 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Discusses Rommel's brilliant military career, his possible involvement in the plot against Hitler, and the circumstances of his death.

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ERWIN ROMMEL'S name stands as one of the great masters of manoeuvre in war, one of that select company whose per transcend time and whose energy still communicate. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 40 reviews
41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
A Brilliant General, A Great Read! 14 Oct. 2000
By Cody Carlson - Published on
Format: Paperback
David Fraser's biography of Erwin Rommel, 'Knight's Cross,' is subtitled, 'A Life of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel.' It should be subtitled, 'A Career of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel.' While the great General's skillful campaigns in France, North Africa, and France again are nothing short of brilliant, quite a bit is left out of the overall picture of the man. Rommel's years before World War I and during the Weimar era are barely examined. Instead, author Fraser focuses on the general history of the time, leaving the portrait of Rommel somewhat incomplete. That said, Fraser also gives us a first rate look at the battlefield genius and basic goodness of the man that was Erwin Rommel. Fraser spends much of the work successfully dispelling the myth of Rommel's lack of strategic consideration by showing his constant worry over the battles in Russia and his own precarious situations in Tunisia and Normandy. Also brought to light are the circumstances surrounding Rommel's part in the July 20th bomb plot and his forced suicide. For anyone interested in World War Two or the methods of great leadership in general, Fraser's biography is sure to entertain and enlighten.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
An excellent biography of a Great General 28 Jun. 1998
By Aussie Reader - Published on
Format: Paperback
There is not much one can add to the other reviews of this very interesting book. The author, David Fraser, offers the reader a well researched and honest account on the life of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel in 562 pages (hardback version). This has been one of the better biographies on Rommel I have read in some time and one of the best military biographies I have read in the last couple of years. I don't think that too many people would not enjoy this account, the author certianly portrays Rommel with his faults as well as his great points and I believe he has tried to present his subject as honestly as possible. A very enjoyable book to read and well researched and presented.
26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Good narrative, but.... 29 Jun. 2000
By "smucci" - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book is something of a hodgepodge on Rommel's career with the author jumping and skipping about a little more than one would normally like. The book is a relatively good straightforward recounting of Rommel's military career with most of the emphasis on the two great wars. Unfortunately, there is very little of Rommel's personal side included in this book -- a few pages on his childhood and parents, a paragraph here or there about is wife Lucy and his son Manfred, etc. The book is laid out as a chronological narrative which offers relatively few insights into Rommel's character which, themselves, are quite often unsubstantiated or not cross referenced with any other source. Plus the sidetracks into German history (i.e. Hitler's rise to power) are wholly incomplete and somewhat inappropriate for this book. I realize the author was trying to set a background, but given the volume of information required to have a decent understanding of the political ins and outs of 1930s Germany requires far more than a chapter or two. The result is the right conclusions for the wrong reasons which may be confusing or unintentionally misleading to some.
Otherwise it is a decent, fairly readable, overview of Rommel the military commander, but I would recommend the following for deeper reading: Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William Shirer, Achtung-Panzer! by Guderain, The Rommel Papers edited by B.H. Liddell-Hart or Rommel's own Attacks: Rommel.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Highly readable military history 1 July 2005
By T. Graczewski - Published on
Format: Paperback
David Fraser's "Knight's Cross" is a good book - it just isn't a particularly good biography. My hunch would be that most prospective readers are interested in learning about Rommel's legendary campaigns, especially those with the Afrika Korps, and this book certainly delivers on that account. Fraser is better known as a novelist, and his writing reflects that heritage. He keeps the drama high and openly professes his admiration for Rommel, both as a military leader and a man.

As a biography, though, "Knight's Cross" fails to deliver much meaningful insight into the subject's true character. Rather than providing a deep and rich background on Rommel's formative experiences growing up in southern Germany, with his siblings and family, at school, with personal relationships in the army, the company he kept during the Weimar years and so on, Fraser instead relies on clichés and generalizations. For instance, the book is over 550 pages long, yet by page 50 Rommel is already a gallant and increasingly renowned 26-year-old infantry officer on the Western Front. The rest of the book reads like a military history with a central character, rather than a biography of a great man that happened to become a field marshal. Fraser only mentions parenthetically that Rommel had two brothers and a sister, and his relationship with his parents is left totally unexplored, as are his religious beliefs (which is particularly disappointing given the fact that so many of his future letters to his [Catholic] wife Lucy are laced with references to God's will). Instead, Fraser seems content to offer up his assessment that "Rommel was a Swabian [area of Germany he grew up in] through-and-through" (whatever that's supposed to mean) and then hurry on to the presumably more interesting topics of his later battlefield exploits.

The above notwithstanding, Erwin Rommel is certainly a compelling subject for a full-length biography. Especially interesting was his unusual relationship to the two things that made him famous: armored warfare and Adolf Hitler.

To many, Rommel is synonymous with blitzkrieg and the genius of the Wehrmacht's combined arms doctrine developed during the interwar period. Despite his association with the panzer force and his reputation for military genius, Rommel was an infantryman by training and was passed over for membership in Germany's elite General Staff system, a snub he never quite got over. His first hands-on experience with armored units only came, unbelievably enough, as a divisional commander during the invasion of France in 1940. He managed to pull off such an unlikely feat, Fraser suggests, thanks to the personal intervention of Hitler himself.

Rommel's relationship with Hitler (and Goebbels) was close, although Fraser is adamant that Rommel was never a Nazi. The field marshal clearly supported most of the regime's policies, felt the war was just and attributed Nazi excesses to the Furher's leading acolytes, such as Bormann and Himmler. To Hitler, Rommel exemplified everything a German soldier ought to be: aggressive, courageous, indefatigable, and unpretentious. In return, Rommel was genuinely impressed with Hitler's accomplishments and abilities. It was a relationship based on mutual admiration that, strangely enough, ended with one being implicated in a plot to kill the other. Fraser does an admirable job in reviewing and assessing the evidence tying Rommel to the failed 20 July attendat and comes to the conclusion that he likely knew that something was afoot, but wasn't an active conspirator. Moreover, Fraser argues that by the summer of 1944 Rommel felt that a negotiated peace with the western allies was essential to save Germany from utter destruction, but that he also felt that the murder of Hitler was wrong and, if successfully carried out, was unlikely to be supported by the German army and people and thus unlikely to achieve its ultimate objective of negotiated peace.

In closing, if you're looking for a fun and informative military history on one of the all-time greatest commanders, you'll likely enjoy "Knight's Cross." If, however, you're looking for a serious biography on a great commander in the mold of D'Este's biography of George Patton, for instance, you'll likely come away disappointed.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Great Bio of "Desert Fox" 27 Aug. 1999
By Lynn Robinson - Published on
Format: Paperback
I have not read any other bios of Rommel, but I have no doubt that this is probably the best bio of Rommel written. Fraser obviously did a ton of research and the book is great. I especially enjoyed the chapters on Rommel's service in WWI. One can see his command style coming out in his days in WWI. The chapters on France, North Africa, and D-Day are all very interesting as well. Another great chapter is Fraser's look at Rommel's part or non-part in the plot to kill Hitler. I won't give away Fraser's conclusions, but it is the most in-depth description I have ever seen. Overall, this is just a great biography, probably the best written on Rommel. However, Frasers style can be annoying at times and he goes into a ton of depth, which can be a bother to non-avid military history or WWII buffs.
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