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Erwin Rommel was a complex man: a born leader, brilliant soldier, a devoted husband and proud father; intelligent, instinctive, brave, compassionate, vain, egotistical, and arrogant. In France in 1940, then for two years in North Africa, then finally back in France again, at Normandy in 1944, he proved himself a master of armored warfare, running rings around a succession of Allied generals who never got his measure and could only resort to overwhelming numbers to bring about his defeat.
And yet for all his military genius, Rommel was also naive, a man who could admire Adolf Hitler at the same time that he despised the Nazis, dazzled by a Führer whose successes blinded him to the true nature of the Third Reich. Above all, he was the quintessential German patriot, who ultimately would refuse to abandon his moral compass, so that on one pivotal day in June 1944 he came to understand that he had mistakenly served an evil man and evil cause. He would still fight for Germany even as he abandoned his oath of allegiance to the Führer, when he came to realize that Hitler had morphed into nothing more than an agent of death and destruction. In the end Erwin Rommel was forced to die by his own hand, not because, as some would claim, he had dabbled in a tyrannicidal conspiracy, but because he had committed a far greater crime – he dared to tell Adolf Hitler the truth.
In Field Marshal historian Daniel Allen Butler not only describes the swirling, innovative campaigns in which Rommel won his military reputation, but assesses the temper of the man who finally fought only for his country, and no dark depths beyond.
Table of Contents
PROLOGUE A Fox in the Desert
1 The Birth of a Soldier
2 The Great War
3 An Officer of the Reichswehr
4 The Third Reich
6 Afrika Korps
9 Der Hexenkessel
10 African Apogee
11 El Alamein
12 African Perigee
13 The Atlantic Wall
14 Invasion and Conspiracy
15 The Death of a Field Marshal
EPILOGUE The Legend of the Desert Fox
APPENDIX: Rommel—A Timeline
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Daniel Allen Butler, a maritime and military historian, is the bestselling author of “Unsinkable”: The Full Story of RMS Titanic, Distant Victory: The Battle of Jutland and the Allied Triumph in the First World War, and The First Jihad: The Battle for Khartoum and the Dawn of Militant Islam. He is an internationally recognized authority on maritime subjects and a popular guest-speaker for several cruise lines. Butler lives and works in Los Angeles, California. Daniel Allen Butler was educated at Hope College, Grand Valley State University, and the University of Erlangen.Review:
"An amazing biopic of Rommel. Only dedicated students of World War II history will have any idea about this charismatic leader - Butler sheds new light on the story of this fascinating man in an extremely readable book." (Books Monthly)
"A complex man emerges from the pages of “Field Marshal: The Life and Death of Erwin Rommel.” Author Daniel Allen Butler assesses both the temperament and the battlefield brilliance of World War II Nazi Germany’s “Desert Fox” in this 600-page, hardcover book with 16 pages of photographs. The writer describes Rommel as a born leader, superb soldier, devoted husband and proud father. The field marshal is also characterized as being intelligent, instinctive, courageous, compassionate, vain, egotistical and arrogant... In the end, Rommel was compelled to commit suicide at age 52 in 1944, not because he was involved in an assassination plot against Hitler as some would claim, but because he had committed a far greater crime: he had the fortitude to face the Führer and tell the truth." (Toy Solder & Model Figure)
"...an in depth study of a complex man whose battlefield acumen was mixed with blind obedience to Hitler, an obedience he eventually foreswore at the cost of his life." (WWII History)
“In great detail and with speculation as to the motives and psychology of his hero, Butler recounts the life and battles of Erwin Rommel. Buttressing his book with some archival research, the author relies mostly on Rommel’s own diaries and letters edited and published soon after the war—one of this book’s strengths.” (Choice)
“Daniel's biography of Rommel is both educational and entertaining - I didn't know, for example, that he had had some kind of epiphany regarding the true nature of the Third Reich and its evil leader, Adolf Hitler. Fascinating stuff, a brilliant biography of a legend of the second world war.” (Books Monthly)
“This book is a tour de force and easily one of the best that I have reviewed for Arrse. It also defines what a military biography should be – heaven help anyone else planning a biography of Rommel. 5 stars.” (Army Rumour Service)
“...an engaging human story.” (Miniature Wargame)
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