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The Desert Fox in Normandy: Rommel's Defense Of Fortress Europe Paperback – 20 Aug 2001
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"A suitable companion to Stephen E. Ambrose's Citizen Soldiers... The book gives readers an appreciation of the tenacity of the German soldier. Armor A fascinating account, from the German point of view, of what went wrong in the Normandy campaign. Associated Press An excellent account of Rommel's engineering and tactical accomplishments during the last few months of his life, from the end of 1943 to his involuntary suicide in 1944. Publishers Weekly A well-balanced examination... Mitcham shows how Rommel executed one of his most brilliant campaigns in defending France with next to no reinforcements or resupply... A worthy study that should interest all readers. Library Journal Mitcham weaves a fascinating story of heroic striving by Rommel, and by his German troops, to overcome time and German senior mismanagement. This book would be a valuable addition to any collection of works on World War II, both for its masterful coverage of Axis military organizational, operational, and tactical activities, as well as for its excellent minibiographies of important German military and naval officers. They alone are sufficient reason to acquire this book. Journal of Military History
From the Back Cover
Covering the Battle of Normandy from the German point of view, this book examines the impact the "Desert Fox" had on the build-up of German defenses in Normandy and elsewhere, dubbed by the Propaganda Ministry as the "Atlantic Wall". Rommel realized how deceptive this term was upon his inspection of German defenses in 1943. Convinced that the Allies knew more about the actual state of German readiness than many of his officers did, the Desert Fox set out to fortify German positions. In the weeks prior to D-Day, Rommel analyzed Allied bombing patterns and concluded that they were trying to make Normandy a strategic island in order to isolate the battlefield. Rommel also noticed that the Allies had mined the entire Channel coast, while the naval approaches to Normandy were clear. Realizing that Normandy would be the likely site of the invasion, he replaced the poorly-equipped 716th Infantry Division with the battle-hardened 352nd Infantry Division on the coastal sector, but his request for additional troops was denied by Hitler. Mitcham offers a remarkable theory of why Allied intelligence failed to learn of this critical troop movement, and why they were not prepared for the heavier resistance they met on Omaha Beach. Mitcham uses a number of little-known primary sources which contradict previously published accounts of Rommel, his officers, and the last days of the Third Reich. These sources provide amazing insight into the invasion of Normandy from the German perspective. They include German personnel records, unpublished papers, and the manuscripts of top German officers like General of Panzer Troops Baron Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg, the commander of Panzer Group West. The Desert Fox in Normandy also contains a thorough examination of the virtually ignored battles of the Luftwaffe in France in 1944. Rommel, a master of mobile warfare, developed a cunning defense strategy for Normandy and fought a brilliant campaign despite the tremendous odds against him - and the fact that he wasn't even there. Although his absence on D-Day significantly weakened the German reaction to the Allied landings, his preparations for the impending invasion temporarily halted, but could not repulse, the Allies and their ultimate victory. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
Probably the most talented of all Germany's army commanders it reveals his limitless energy and resourcefulness to prepare the Atlantic Wall for the forthcoming Allied invasion. From December 1943 when he took over command of Army Group B to his death in October 1944 it follows the unfortunate demise of a great man.
His was a thankless task, which he more or less acknowledged from the beginning, but through his misguided loyalty continued to follow the orders of Hitler.
After D-Day, and with Hitler's absolute refusal to believe that this was the real invasion and not simply a diversionary assault for the real invasion which would come in the Pas de Calais, Rommel and his army were fighting a losing battle.
He pleaded incessantly for reinforcements and received 10,000 to replace 120,000. He was never permitted to follow his own strategies, which would have saved a great deal of blood shed on both sides.
From early July the story focusses also on his inner turmoil. How to balance the massacre of his army in Normandy and indeed of the whole German nation against his past loyalty for Hitler. It suggests, that although he was politically naive Rommel was prepared,together with his immediate subordinates to "open the western front to the allies" to ensure that Europe did not fall into Russian hands. It leaves the reader wondering what Europe would have looked like today if that had happened.
Unfortunately an allied fighter bomber ensured that this would never be a subject for discussion as he was taken out of the frony line on July 17.
The failed assassination plot against Hitler and Rommels' perceived involvement leads to a very sad ending to the book.
Although he was an enemy, there is little doubt that Rommel was indeed a great man of his time.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
If you have an interest in D-Day, I would strongly recommend this book and if you have interest in Rommel I would also strongly recommend. But if you are just looking at a broad overview of the Normandy campaign or an indepth biography of Rommel you should look elsewhere.
Rommel was convinced that the only way to defeat the Allied invasion was to push them back into the sea within the first few days when the Allies would be at their weakest. To accomplish this the panzer divisions would have to be nearer the shore. A problem with this theory is that neither Rommel or the author explains how the panzers would be protected from Allied air strikes.
After the deliberate situational coverage prior to the landinggs, the author delivers a brief but decent summary of the engagements up to the end of July that will include Operation Cobra. Attempts at holding the beach, St Lo and the defense in the Caen sector are also covered in typical Mitcham fashion. The near fatal wounding of Rommel on July 17th and his subsequent recovery is discussed as well as his slight involvement in the plot to assassinate Hitler. The book ends in an attempt to save his family, Rommel commits suicide for the alleged involvment in the assassination attempt.
There are a few maps and some good photos to study as well. The author, as usual, also provides an extensive Notes section.
I take issue on three minor statements the author has made. The author states the Germans had 2000 panzers destroyed at Kursk. I believe that's an over statement. He also claims Japan was a good Ally of Germany which is false. The repeated misspelling of Adm Canaris's name was also disappointing.
For anybody not familiar with Rommel this book would be a good starter book. Its not comprehensive but it is engaging and an easy read. It provides Rommel's insight and drive as a career officier and it shows a glimpse into Rommel's personal life.
Anybody who is well read on WWII will probably not find anything new on Rommel in this book but its still worth having in your collection if your're a Rommel fan.
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