Sunday, January 4, 2009

Read: "Killing Rommel" by Steven Pressfield

Read: Killing Rommel by Steven Pressfield, 2008, 9780385519700.

I really liked this one.  Pressfield wrote this like a soldier's memoirs of the English Army's North African 

campaign against Rommel.

Pressfield does a great job.  The book reads exactly like a memoir and has great historical detail.  I originally had no intentions of reading this book.  The reviews I read praised the historical aspects and realism of the book but the "Kill Rommel" mission made it sound like a half-assed "What if?" novel.
Lieutenant "Chap" Chapman is a tank officer in Northern Africa.  During never ending training in the desert Chap tries to transfer to another unit and applies for the Long Range Desert Group (LRDG) who are looking for armor officers to assist in evaluating desert routes.  Chap' s commander does not let request go anywhere and after some beatings by Rommel on the English Army Chap does end up getting the transfer after a personal connection with his Colonel. 
The LRDG is a special forces unit for reconnaissance and raids against the Krauts.  Chap is along, at first, to evaluate possible flanking and attack routes for Gen. Monty's upcoming counteroffensive against Rommel.  Chap ends up being an integral part of the unit and even commands a patrol.
The whole "Kill Rommel" portion of the book is minor; I think the title is very misleading.  Chap and company undertake a mission to kill Rommel but it is not the book’s focus.  Pressfield follows the North African campaign's history very closely and does not seem to make much up.  The hardships of desert travel were neat to read about.  LRDG members all had to be drivers and mechanics as well as shooters.  Each truck carried multiple spare parts and during a month long patrol maybe a quarter to a third of the days were spent on truck maintenance and repair due to the beating they took from the rough terrain.  I was surprised that so many of the LRDG soldiers were Kiwis and that the SAS was a separate unit.
There are quite a few characters to keep track of but nothing too difficult to follow.  A good book.

What's with the screwed up formating?

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