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With Rommel in the Desert (War & Warriors Series) [Hardcover]

Heinz-W. Schmidt
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

31 Dec 1991 War & Warriors Series
Originally published in 1973 by White Lion. A first-hand account offering a perspective on Rommel's African campaign. Schmidt was close to Rommel throughout the two years of the campaign and provides details of the military action alongside personal perspectives of fellow-officers.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Noontide Press,U.S.; UNKNOWN edition (31 Dec 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0939482398
  • ISBN-13: 978-0939482399
  • Product Dimensions: 23.9 x 15.7 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,921,230 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a modest biography of Rommel 8 May 2013
It's a long time since I read this book and to be honest I don't remember much about it except one anecedote. In it the narrator is rounding up a group of british POW's one of whom, an officer, complains that it is "not fair" that the germans are using a flak gun (the famous 88) against british tanks. To which the narrator replies that it is "not fair" that the British are using tanks against the Germans that can only be knocked out by the "88". Rommel always had the last word, even after defeat. This was probably one of the books (along with "The guns of August" by Barbara Tuchman and Alexander Solzhenitsyn) that kickstarted by interest in military history. As a remember the book although it tells the story of a military genius and hero (some might say) it does so in a very unassuming way. The narrator admires and respects his subject and feels an honour to have served with him but he doesn't worship Rommel which is what I mean by calling this book "a modest biography of Rommel".
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My first book ever 9 Jun 2001
By G. Martinez Funes - Published on Amazon.com
I have to say I'm biased, for this book marked a decisive moment of my childhood. This was the FIRST book I read in my life. I was eight y.o. then, and I stole it from my father's bookshelf. I loved the book, even if I didn't understand it all. I read it so many times that I'm sure I knew it better than Mr. Schmidt. It's war, written from a very personal and somewhat innocent point of view. After this book, I devoured everything that was printed, and still do. Thanks, Mr. Schmidt, you'll never know how important you've been to me.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Up And Down With The Afrikakorps 13 Aug 2010
By Bill Slocum - Published on Amazon.com
Victory and defeat were close companions in the ranks of Erwin Rommel's Afrikakorps. In June, 1942, Rommel finally captured the doughty port bastion of Tobruk and was pressing on to Egypt. By October's end, he was in full retreat, never again to hold the upper hand. What it was like to be a member of Rommel's legions is the subject of this 1951 memoir.

Heinz Werner Schmidt got to Africa early, even before Germany entered the conflict. In East Africa, where the Italians were holding on to Eritrea, he commanded a small detachment of German sailors who volunteered to fight. Then, in March, 1941, he was called up to Libya to help Rommel settle into his new command. Soon he was Rommel's aide-de-camp, riding alongside the Desert Fox as he berated subordinates and carefully inspected his defenses - from the enemy's own side.

Rommel's theory of desert warfare was comparable to naval combat. "Whoever has the weapons with the greatest range has the longest arm, exactly as at sea," Schmidt quotes Rommel saying at one meeting. "Whoever has the greater mobility, through efficient motorization and efficient lines of supply, can by swift action compel his opponent to act according to his wishes."

Schmidt's history is a worthy read, at times compelling for those with an interest in this part of World War II going in. But it's not the kind of book that grabs you with scintillating prose or probing insights. Schmidt writes in a stilted fashion, starting his story abruptly and leaving a few early tales half-told. When Rommel's waspish chief of staff countermands Rommel's own order to take the inland hub of Mechili, pressing on instead for Tobruk, Schmidt is assigned to pass the order on. But when Schmidt fails to do this, the implications of this (what did the chief of staff say to Schmidt after? What did Rommel say to his second-guessing chief of staff?) are left blank.

At another point, early on at the siege of Tobruk, Rommel sends a tank force to their doom while Schmidt watches helplessly, knowing it is all a mistake. Whatever Rommel thought after is left unrecorded.

Despite the title, there was not a lot of closeness between Schmidt and Rommel. About all we learn of Rommel's personality was that he was brave, short of temper when the situation called for it, and enjoyed jokes about Prussians (he was Swabian himself). When Schmidt requests a transfer to front-line service halfway through the book, Rommel becomes a distant background figure.

"Close to him, I found him much more unimaginative and stolid than the romanticized pictures that have been drawn of him by both friend and foe," Schmidt writes. I wish Schmidt provided more of an analysis than that, but it's a spotty book that way.

One consistent element in Schmidt's account is that of loss. People pop up all the time only to die or vanish a page or two later. "Death began to loom up as a brother, and it seemed absurd that one should fear him," Schmidt writes. "He would be kind..." Schmidt's own experience speaks to a more general sense of futility. He goes on leave after Rommel's capture of Tobruk and comes back just in time to cover the retreat from El Alamein, the beginning of the end.

Schmidt comes across as a good man, unimpressed with Nazism, generous with praise for his foes (South Africans, New Zealanders, and Australians especially), and courageous without calling much attention to it. At times one wishes he had more ego; more chest-puffing would have made a more gripping read. Instead "With Rommel" is a by-the-numbers account, told sincerely but not imaginatively.
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice read. 7 Dec 2013
By ksmith - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I read it over about three days. Well written and very exciting. It was not about Rommel but about a person on his staff that later took a combat command. I always enjoy personal stories as they tend to give more insight into a conflict than maps and numbers.
3.0 out of 5 stars Not so much about Rommel 20 May 2013
By Nathaniel - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
This true story is about the Afrika Korps campaign told from the perspective of one of Rommel's officers. Schmidt spends a great deal of the first half of the book with Rommel, but the second half is mostly about the author commanding his own men. He describes the movements of the Afrika Korp but I found that I was disorientated without maps to give an idea as to where each army was in the battles as well as their movements. There are static maps that show you the different areas that the Afrika Korps operated in, but you have no sense of direction or immensity of the battles.
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and Intertaining 25 Feb 2008
By Will - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A rare account from a German aide de camp, with fascinating glimpses into the daily life of a General staff. Add to that the fact that the aide de camp was for none less than Rommel himself, during the legendary Afrika Korps days, and you get a book not to be missed.
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