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Rommel: The End of a Legend Hardcover – 25 Nov 2005
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"This outstanding examination exposes Rommel's true character as being much different - and much darker - than the fawning accounts . . . The Desert Fox's legions of fans will be extremely uncomfortable when they meet the real Rommel in the pages of Reuth's must-read new book."--Armchair General Magazine
About the Author
Ralf Georg Reuth wrote his doctoral thesis on German military strategy and the history of World War II. Since then he has published two big biographies on Adolf Hitler (Piper 2003) and Joseph Goebbels. He was also the editor of the diaries of Joseph Goebbels.
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Well written and easy to follow.
A reasonable read for those being introduced to Rommel, but not adequate for more informed and thoughtful readers.
The author also makes huge leaps from the few sources he DOES use in order to advance his own point. On page 174, Reuth uses this Rommel quotation - "we will still be able to survive somehow" - to indicate that Rommel felt they could still win on the Western front, even after the Normandy invasions. Especially frustrating is that Reuth included evidence prior to this instance that Rommel NEVER believed, before, during or after the invasion, that the Germans would win on the Western front.
Nowhere in the book does the author include the authentic and established evidence that exists of Rommel disobeying Hitler's orders to deport Jews. Nowhere does the author include the authentic and established evidence that explains Rommel's aversion to assassinating Hitler was because he felt Hitler would become a martyr, and the whole point of his removal would be lost.
All in all, the author is a poor scholar. His use of citation and reference is appallingly infrequent, his book contains many internal inconsistencies, and it seems that the author will take ANY information in order to further his character assassination of Rommel.
The only reason I did not put this book down halfway through is because I am writing a historiographical paper comparing the various accounts of Rommel's life. Almost none of Reuth's claims are supported by any of the existing literature or evidence (which is presumably why Reuth rarely supported his claims with citation - there is no evidence to support his claims).
There is one last point. The author makes much of two issues - first, that Rommel was Hitler's favourite general! I am somewhat taken aback by this as being a black mark against Rommel. Obviously he was a successful commander and any head of state - even one as demented as Hitler - would want to fete a successful commander. It has also been stated that Rommel skillfully used the Propaganda Machine to his benefit. This cannot be denied. However, it must also be kept in mind that the conduct of war takes place across a variety of spectra and these include the 'cognitive' and 'psychological' domains. The author should recognize that one of the outcomes of Rommel's use of the Propaganda Machine was in the release of Gen. Auchinleck's letter in which he cautioned his tactical commanders against considering Rommel as 'super-human bogeyman'. This is a classic example of one form of what we today identify as 'effects-based operations'. So to find Rommel using these tools would not and should not be surprising. The second point concerns whether Rommel was a part of the conspiracy to assasinate or otherwise remove Hitler. Stop to think about it for a moment. For any military officer to plan on what is ultimately an act of treason is not a flippant act. There are also indications - infact the fateful meeting with von Rundstedt and Hitler at Soissons is a case in point - that Rommel did give Hitler an ultimatum after the successful landing of the Allies in Normandy. What turn that ultimatum would have taken is a matter of speculation given Rommel's very serious injury, and his name appearing on the list of persons suspected of being involved in the July 1944 Plot, which resulted in his committing suicide. This leaves us neither here nor there!
I have often wondered about this author and his motivations to 're-work' Rommel and, frankly speaking, I cannot come up with any reason - academic or otherwise - as to how this author came to write this book.
Conclusion: Read this book if you want to know how NOT TO do history; Else avoid it like the plague!