As the publishers are keen to point out, what chiefly distinguishes this from other books of its type is the fact that it was written - and published - while the war was yet to be won and before any sort of revisionism could come into play.
Equally important is the author's total candour about the strengths and failings of himself, the Allied armies and their enemies - as well as the civilians caught up in the conflict. He records embarrassing encounters with pompous fellow Brits (he is a Scot) and cold Americans with as much relish as more rewarding meetings and there are conversations with wounded Germans which brought him closer to understanding the human side of the conflict – as well as bringing him useful intelligence.
One suspects that some of his views – or those of other soldiers – would not have appeared in print had he lived to see his book published. No doubt some well-meaning editor would have attempted to persuade him that tales of 8th Army mutiny on the way to Italy – or pretty disparaging remarks about the French – would have been better left out.
The action itself is plentiful and equally well written, with just the right mix of fear and aggression to convey to the reader what it must have been like to fight in the desert.