Most helpful positive review
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Contemporary and personal account of North African campaigns
on 30 July 2011
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.