Alamein: War Without Hate Paperback – 25 Sep 2003
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There was little to romanticise in 20th-century warfare, as detailed in Alamein: War Without Hate. The bloody stalemate of the First World War trenches and the stark confrontation between a genocidal dictatorship and the forces of democracy in the Second World War could not be given the gloss of "chivalry" and "fair play" applied to the less mechanised slaughter of battles in previous centuries. The exception was the North African campaign, the Krieg ohne Hass (War without Hate), as it was described by the German commander Rommel. The myth of a desert war that was somehow "cleaner" and more noble than the fighting on other Second World War fronts has been perpetuated both by veterans of North Africa and by some historians.
In their fine account of the struggle between Rommel's Afrika Korps and Montgomery's Eighth Army which culminated in the second Battle of Alamein, Bierman and Smith replace myth with reality. However, they do show that the desert war was different from the other theatres of war. There is some basis to the myth of the "war without hate" and a good deal of the credit for this can be given to the German commander. Not that Bierman and Smith are primarily interested in the personalities of senior commanders. Even the pen portraits of Rommel and Montgomery are slightly perfunctory. What they want most to do is to provide a clear and readable narrative of events unfolding in North Africa from 1940 to 1943 and how they affected the ordinary soldiers who fought on both sides. In this they have succeeded admirably. Their book refuses to romanticise the desert war but, by giving so striking an account of its reality, does a different kind of justice to the men who fought in it. --Nick Rennison --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"A first class account of the arduous hunt to run Rommel to ground.' -- John Crossland, Sunday Times, best military history books of 2002
'A new definitive account of the desert battle.' -- Daily Mail, September 2002
'Excellent...A remarkabled achievement...Few historians write as fluently as Bierman and Smith...one of the most successful Western Desert narratives.' -- John Keegan in Daily Telegraph, October 2002
'Peppered with... fascinating insights...and the authors manage to fill the entire canvas of the desert war.' -- Herald, September 2002
'big pacey read... panorama of the desert fighting up to the sacking of Auchinleck and the arrival of Montgomery.' -- Allan Mallison, The Times, September 2002
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Top Customer Reviews
In just over 400 pages of tense and illuminating narrative we learn more than just the 'what, why & how' of the battle. As readers we get the chance to have a glimpse into the lives of the soldiers who fought in this campaign. We read about soldiers from all parts of the Commonwealth and their German and Italian enemies and we get an idea why this campaign was known as the "war without hate".
The story was presented in a lively and interesting manner and although I have read quite a few books on this battle the story was fresh and retained my interest throughout. I found that at times the authors presented accounts with humor and sometimes a little sarcasm but at all times with fairness to soldiers on both sides of 'no-mans land'. There may not be much that is new here but this book does offer a refreshing and easy to read account of one of World War Two's more famous battles.
I also found that at times whilst reading this book I really got caught up in the lives of some of the participants and I was sadden by many of the outcomes. This is the story about the ordinary infantrymen, tankie, artillerymen, pilot, sailor and civilian, on both sides of the conflict. I really enjoyed the stories from these men and women and it was pleasing to see that the poor old Italian soldier get a fair place in this account.Read more ›
By borrowing the subtitle War Without Hate they might have slipped into a misleading account of a soft-focus, rather comfortable sort of conflict. They make their point but leave you in no doubt just what a campaign like this means in terms of human loss. Why were we able to beat a better-equipped enemy who was also better-generalled (at least initially)? Because we had some outstanding junior officers and senior NCOs, many more of whom gave their lives in this campaign than in other armies and other wars. The account of the Rifle Brigade's action at Snipe, as well as a number of other accounts of individual acts of bravery (generally linked to a high degree of situational awareness), show how such people enabled Monty to achieve his objectives. And the stories are gripping.
I enjoyed the discussions of the generals in particular. There is some uncomfortable reading here, though, because of the comparisons between the two sides. Although the authors do not dwell on Montgomery, they leave you in no doubt how outstanding his contribution was; and, despite being a professional soldier not known for his tolerance or humanity, he understood that he needed to tailor his plan to the limitations of his citizen army.
I had the luxury of reading the book over Christmas and New Year, and so hardly put it down until I had finished it. I look forward to the next one.
There's a great mixture of the larger picture; troop and tank movements, overall strategy; with the smaller personal details of history and experiences that fill in the gaps as far as the real people and real lives are concerned. This is augmented by footnotes throughout that fill in the details of the fates of many of the figures very satisfactorily.
Overall a fascinating account of an almost unique campaign. Heartily recommended.
But surely the reason tanks burning is called brewing up is not "curiously, the same phrase" [page 104] but an ironic connection?
The title `Alamein' refers of course to the pivotal attritional battle in October 1942 following which the British finally went onto the continuous offensive against Panzerarmee Afrika (made up by then of roughly equal numbers of German and Italian troops). However the book's scope takes in the whole of the North African campaign from the Italian invasion of Egypt in 1940 until the final mass surrender of all the remaining Axis forces in Tunisia in May 1943, leading to the allied invasion of Italy and implementation of Churchill's `Mediterranean strategy.'
The authors have a lively and literate style, and unexpectedly appropriate dry humour is found amid the serious subject matter. Whilst giving in-depth portraits of the commanders (the British side, like the North during the American Civil War, went through a few generals before finding a consistently effective one) this is above all the story of the ordinary infantryman and tank gunner; the choice to include details of hitherto little-known acts of heroism in minor actions makes for absorbing reading.
The book begins with a finely observed reunion between the old soldiers of both sides, the youngest now in their 70s, at the Rommel Barracks in Germany in 1999, making the reader fully aware of the ambiguity and moral complexities of the occasion. `Krieg ohne Hass' (war without hate) is a direct quote from Erwin Rommel's description of the North African campaign and refers to the fact that in this theatre no SS divisions were deployed and the few towns and villages populating the sparse landscape were left undamaged and not fought over. No civilians were bombed or brutalised.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I primarily chose to read this particular book on Alamein because Colin Smith's book "Singapore Burning" was one of the best books on the Second World War that I have ever... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Thomas S-R
Got to be the best single volume treatment that still finds the time to walk with the common soldier and brigadier alike. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Billy McJohnson
This was a gift so cannot comment on its content, The book arrived in perfect condition.Published 19 months ago by Dr. D. S. Gandolfo
I think this book was an excellent choice for me. I wanted to read about the events at Alamein, understand their significance and get an insight into the people involved and what... Read morePublished on 8 April 2014 by Nico
First hand accounts of their experiences by German and Italian as well as British and Commonwealth soldiers add to the fascination of this detailed account of the first defeat of... Read morePublished on 29 Oct. 2012 by James Clayton
I was extremely pleased to read this fine book . My late father served as a wireless operator with the Long Range Desert Group in North Africa . Read morePublished on 16 April 2012 by Alan. J. Reynolds
Great book - very thorough but keeps the history story line going so well that you don't want to put it down. Read morePublished on 30 Jan. 2012 by W. Page
I like these types of history books that use personal anecdotes from soldiers from both sides to spice up the dry facts of the events ... Read morePublished on 5 Dec. 2011 by Colin Powis