Erwin Rommel was already known to Allied servicemen as the Desert Fox before he launched his drive for Tobruk in the spring of 1942. His reputation was reinforced by this audacious campaign, which was truly the jewel in the crown of Axis operations in North Africa. Samuel Mitcham shows how Rommel employed the scant resources at his disposal, how he fused German units with Italian and how he deployed all the tactical skill and cunning at his disposal - and shattered the best the Allies had to offer in just a few weeks of fighting. Tobruk was the most significant port on the Libyan coast east of Tripoli, and thought to be the key that would unlock the way to Alexandria and the Suez Canal. Rommel's seizure of the port, thoroughly analysed in this major new study, for a time seriously threatened the Allied position in the entire Mediterranean region and proved that Rommel was a general of outstanding calibre.
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Samuel W. Mitcham Jr. is a professor of history at Hendersonville State University. He is also the author of the authoritative study of air power, Eagles of the Third Reich: The Men Who Made the Luftwaffe.Review:
Samuel Mitchum has done an excellent job of leading the reader through the events that have become known as Rommel's crowning acheivement during the North African campaign. In a fairly detailed manner, the author shows how long the odds were, and just how unlikely victory in this battle should have been. In order to forestall the British, Rommel launches his much reinforced Panzer Armee into the attack to rest the fortress of Tobruk from the allies and drive the Eighth Army back across the frontier. With faulty intelligence, and an almost as faulty a plan he should have been defeated, but wasn't. Why? Mitcham shows us clearly the flow of the battles that lead up to the fall of Tobruk. Luck, both good and bad, on one side then the other, constantly influences the outcome of the many engagements. Differing styles of command, failures of intelligence, or failing to respond in a timely manner to good intelligence all played a role during the Gazala battles. Rommel is shown at his most daring, out fighting and constantly outmaneuvering his British counterparts. The British, on the other hand, are still learning their trade in this new style of warfare. The British commands failures are as much a reason for Rommel's success as Rommel's own tactics and aggressive handling of his numerically inferior armour. This book is a 'must read' for any student of the war in North Africa. --A UK Customer
Not much can be added to the previous review from Amazon.com. I found this book easy and enjoyable to read. The author offers a well presented and researched account of Rommel's capture of Tobruk in 1942. It shows Rommel at his best although he was hepled at times by the Allies lack of understanding of all-arms combat. It shows Rommel was also extremely lucky on occassion but he was a commander who led from the front and took advantage of these lucky breaks. The only faults I could find with this book were the maps and some incorrect captions to some of the photos. I felt that the maps could have provided more detail. I hate reading about a location in the narrative but not being able to find it on the relevant map. The author provided numerous maps throughout the narrative but they could have been on a higher standard. I noticed two incorrect captions to the photos, one showing a Panzer MkIV with a 75cm main gun but labled as a Panzer MkIII and another photo listed as a British Valentine tank but which is a Cruiser MkII or MkIII. Regardless of these minor faults this is still a very good book covering this battle (and only one of few that does!) and was a delight to read. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys military history. --An Amazon U K Customer
I was really unsure about buying this book based on a review I saw here but decided to take the plunge and am I glad I did! I am a Wargamer and Scenario Designer and I was concerned by the remarks about the map. If it hadn't been mention I wouldn't have noticed the problem. But what I found very important to me was the level of detail about EACH unit available, down to the Battalion level, German tanks available at various stages of the battle by type and Division, and a well organized Index that allowed me to look up direct references to units I wanted to place or locate at various points in time. This book is helping me make a great computer Wargame that other people will enjoy and learn about history through. --Glenn Saunders
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