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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
The book: really three books, and really 'African trilogy' brought out under a new name. These are
'Mediterranean Front' about the 1940-41 campaign under Wavell, first published 1941;
'A year of battle' on the 1941-42 campaigns under Auchinleck; first published 1943;
and 'The end in Africa' on the 1942-43 campaign under Montgomery, Eisenhower and Alexander. First published 1943.
The second book also has the story of Moorehead's travels to India and the third one of his trip to the States, but most of the three concerns the North African campaigns, where the author was a war correspondent: for the first two books based in Egypt and along Eighth Army, in the third book on the Algerian/Tunisian front. This is certainly not an official history with full overview of all the battles: it is a personal account from Moorehead's almost-frontline experiences (and occasionally real frontline ones, too.

The author: Alan Moorehead was an Australian, who in 1937 became correspondent for the Daily Express, and went to North Africa in 1940 as war correspondent. After the war he wrote many books on subjects as varied as Kasmir, Darwin and the Beagle, and explorations in Africa. He died in 1983.

My opinion: very impressive - this was written during the actions which it describes, and that gives it a very fresh feel. Moorehead is also an excellent writer, who can couple local actions with wider strategy and global impacts. The battles are described from very close-up viewpoints, from talking to the troops, to commanding generals, and from being under fire himself. It is direct, clear, simple and sensible, and very readable. It gives you a real feeling of the feelings at the time when Cairo was almost taken by the Germans, of the frustrations of the Tunisian front; as well as a series of excellent litte cameos on, say, general Giraud (reasoned, objective, with Mooreheads feelings showing through clearly - and not very positive!); or twelve affectionate pages on the corvette 'Exe' on which he travelled from Scotland to near Gibraltar.
Very good!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 20 March 2012
Alan Moorehead is now best known as the author of the classics 'White Nile', 'Blue Nile' and 'Galipoli'. But he made his name as one of the greatest Second World War correspondents, particularly covering the war in the western desert. This book covers his three years there, from the beginning of Wavell's fantastically successful campaigns against the Italians through Rommel's victories and British disarray - including graphic accounts of secret documents burning in Cairo - to America's entry, the Tunisian campaign and eventual victory. (A caveat - Moorehead was away for the crunch El Alamein battles, so don't buy it for them.)

This book is therefore both one of the great pieces of war writing and the best book, contemporary or modern, that I have read about the desert war. Moorehead covers many of the controversies that still rage today - Montgomery vs Auchinleck, relative fighting qualities of Germans, Italians, British and Americans - and relative importance of generals, equipment and tactics. Moorehead's judgements sound convincing to me - all the more so coming from someone who spent three years there. More importantly, the sense of detail and place - swimming in the Med after a long drive to the front lines, fly blown mess halls, a luxury liner gutted and turned into a troopship - that no modern book, even one quoting from sources, could ever match. He covers life as a war correspondent, how to report on Churchill, and reportage from a bomb run to some of the last classic naval warfare. His sidetrips from the Ethiopia campaign to a war time visit to New York - and the trips to get there - are snapshots of the war single issue books inevitably miss out. I can't recommend it enough.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 12 January 2014
This is far more than the North African Campaign, it also covers India, USA, Central Africa, Iran, as well as flora and fauna, as witnessed by one journalist as he travelled around covering the stories of the time. The books moves from the great sweeping events involving hundreds of thousands of men, to the sketches of French land ladies he billeted with, a skiing holiday in Lebanon, to driving across Iran. There is much humour as well as sadness. The Trilogy is an epic.

Thank you Clive James, without whom I would not have discovered the book.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 6 November 2009
A highly readable though dated account of the desert war from someone who witnessed it first hand. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 1 June 2013
An electronic replacement for a well thumbed and used paperback. A well written book dealing in campaigns not often covered by major war study authors. The whole tone is of a well thought out book dealing calmly and thoroughly about this part of the world war.
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on 9 March 2015
The book gives a vivid account of several theaters of war in the near East. Campaigns in Ethiopia, Syria and Iran are also covered. I have not finished the book yet but it has been a very enjoyable read.so far.
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on 2 August 2015
A great read for anyone interested in military history
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 February 2015
IT'S AN INTERESTING BOOK BUT THE BATTLE DESCRIPTIONS COULD BE MORE DETAILED . HE INTERVIEWED QUITE A FEW IM PORTANT PEOPLE BUT THE RESULTS ARE NOT VERY FORTHCOMING. BUT MAYBE ITS A DIFFERENT VIEW FROM A WAR CORRESPONDANT RATHER THAN A MILITARY PERSON.
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