on 7 August 2013
Although I live in the United States, I ordered this book from Amazon.com UK (where it is available earlier than in the U.S.)on the strength of the other After the Battle Books in my collection. Needless to say, I was not disappointed. Rather than simply tell you that it is a great book, let me share with you how it is put together so you can see if it meets your specific needs.
The Desert War: Then and Now consists of seven parts: Part One - The North African Battlefield (a 24 page geneal overview of Egypt, Libya and Tunisia); Part Two - First Rounds in the Desert (63 pages covering the period June 1940 - February 1941); Part Three - The Germans Move in (95 pages covering the period February - September 1941); Part 4 - The Winter Battles (57 pages covering the period October - December 1941); Part Five - British Fortunes Reach their Lowest Ebb (99 pages covering January - July 1942); Part Six - Turn of the Tide (81 pages covering August - November 1942) and Part Seven - Battle on Two Fronts (129 pages covering the period November 1942 - May 1943.
In terms of major engagements, the book covers Operation Compass in Part 2, Operations Sonnenblume, the first battle of Tobruk, and Operation Battleaxe in Part 3, Operation Crusader in Part 4, The Battle of Gazala, the "Cauldron," Bir Hakeim, the Fall of Tobruk, and the fighting at El Alamein in Part 5, The Battle of Alam Halfa, Operation Lightfoot, Operation Supercharge and the Axis Retreat from Alamein in Part 6, concluding with Operation Torch, the last Battles in Libya, Kasserine Pass, Battle of Mareth, El Guettar, and the capture of Bizerta & Tunis in Part 7.
Some of the narrative covers earlier articles in the After the Battle Magazine, such as the "Raid on Rommel's headquarters" in Part 3, but for the most part the narrative and pictures do not seem to have been in print before.
Those familiar with the After the Battle Books will not be disappointed. There are a plethora of apparently unpublished images from U.S., German, Italian, and British sources in this book, as well as a number of photographs taken by the author during recent visits to the area, in particular Libya. In terms of captions, I found them as fascinating in many instance as the main narrative. The author is clearly knowledgable about the equipment, personalities, and events depicted in the book. As for the narrative itself, Jean Paul Pallud's research is top notch, with few, if any easily discernable errors. Although I am very well read on the campaign, I did learn a new thing or two when reading this book. For instance, I did not know that the Allies tabulated a total of 238,243 prisoners by 25 May 1943, to include 101,784 Germans; 89,443 Italians, and 47,017 of nationality unspecified! I suspect that at least half the last named category were German given that Rommel later observed that he believed 130,000 German soldiers went into captivity when "Tunisgrad" fell in May 1943.
Again, an excellent book on so many levels. Highly recommended!