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on 30 April 1999
In the 55 years since his enforced suicide on Hitler's orders, Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Johannes Eugen Rommel has been elevated to the status of a legendary hero, the "Desert Fox" who fought and conquered against vastly superior odds. The greatest strength of David Fraser's biography is that he explores the brilliantly talented yet surprisingly naive human being beneath the popular mythology, without undermining the glamour, the panache, that Rommel's name conveys to this day.
"Of this extraordinary brotherhood is Rommel - the brotherhood of Hector, of Rupert of the Rhine, of those who can only be described as heroes; and it is curious that so determinedly practical a modernist as Rommel - the least fanciful of men - should have joined a company so bonded by myth."
In a gripping, richly detailed narrative that is both accessible to the lay reader and enlightening to the military historian, Fraser tells the story of Rommel's in the context of the tumultuous changes, social and political, through which he lived. Fraser's is a cohesive and well-balanced story, lavishing as much attention on Rommel's experiences in the First World War and between the wars as on his glory days in the North African desert.
General Sir David Fraser, who is a retired Vice Chief of the General Staff, describes Rommel's battles and campaigns with admirable clarity and an engaging sense of immediacy. His maps are informative and uncluttered, although they would have been easier to use if they had been grouped together rather than sprinkled throughout the text.
Fraser wisely recognises that Rommel was much more than just a soldier. The Rommel he portrays is a devoted husband and father, a gifted amateur mathematician, an energetic and enthusiastic sportsman, a popular teacher and author, as well as a professional winner of battles. Although every inch a patriot, Rommel was no fanatic, publishing his memoir of the First World War under the title "Krieg ohne Hass" ("War without Hate"). It is fitting that Rommel spent the last days of his life quietly at home, tutoring his son Manfred in mathematics, as well as preparing to return to the Western Front.
Fraser devotes two of his twenty-four chapters to analysing Rommel's role in the bomb plot against Hitler. While much of this is necessarily speculation, Fraser constructs a credible scenario well-supported by the intimate character portrait built up in the rest of his book.
All in all, this is a vivid biography, an excellent military history and a damned good read.
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on 13 June 2015
This book is excellent It shows Rommel as a flawed but brilliant commander I would buy this book and The Trail of the Fox They are the only books on Rommel you need Fantastic
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on 4 November 2014
Good book second hand
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on 19 February 2016
A little disappointing, why cant historians write a book without constant references to notes and appendicies?? Didnt finish it, the lady in the charity shop was grateful though...
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