Alamein: War Without Hate
Contributor: Andrew Nguyen
Review Date: 8 Jan 2010
Note: This is for the edition of the book when it was first released in Britain.
In September 1940, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini invaded Egypt in order to gobble up territory and show Nazi Germany that his armed forces could hold their own. It launched a three year campaign that raged back and forth between the Axis and Allies. It was in the desert where one of the greatest German generals would earn his immortal fame and the legendary name of the Desert Fox. It was there that the British Army would have its last hurrah and where the new American Army earned the experience needed to fight Hitlerâ€™s Wehrmacht. Finally and compared to other fronts (particularly the Eastern Front), the War in the Desert, came the closest to being a clean fight that one could get in war.
Many authors have published books about the desert war. Amongst one of the books is Alamein: War without Hate. Written by John Bierman and Colin Smith, who are also journalists, the main story of the book, which is the desert war, consists of six parts with maps and pictures mixed in as well amongst the pages.
The book starts off with the first part appropriately titled Reunion which takes place in 1999. It described the reunion that took place in Germany between all of the veterans of the desert war. Despite the legacy of the war as a whole and perhaps because of the legacy of the battlefield that they fought in, these old veterans are more able to communicate with each other about their experiences without much trouble. A good portion of the discussions turns to dealing with German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, the legendary Desert Fox while his most well known foe British Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery elicits little discussion.
The next five parts detail the desert war, which covers the fighting in North Africa along with the aerial siege of Malta. Starting with the Italian invasion of Egypt, the war proceeded in stages from September 1940 to May 1943. It swung back and forth between under-supplied Axis forces that fought well and mostly well supplied and mostly badly led Allied forces. The combination of official reports as well as personal stories from both sides, with some of them at times oddly funny, help bring into mind what it was like in the desert war. Due to its importance in the desert war and perhaps due to the title, the battle of El-Alamein, the duel of Rommel and Montgomery who are two equally effective leaders of their respective armies, has its own part. After Alamein, the Allies have the initiative as they run the Axis forces into the ground, in the process, particularly in the case of the Americans, gaining the combat experience that they need for later campaigns.
After the main story concludes, there is an epilogue titled Requiem that describes a gathering of old veterans at the actual El-Alamein battlefield in 2000 where all pay their respects to the dead on both sides. Amongst the description of the region that they visit is that the legacies of the war still litter the area as a result, a visitor may most certain feel a dark chill after visiting the region. At the end of the book there is a listing of acknowledgements and sources, the chronology of the desert war, a bibliography and the index.
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Â»Â Montgomery, Bernard
Â»Â Rommel, Erwin
Â»Â First Battle of El Alamein
Â»Â Operation Compass
Â»Â Operation Crusader
Â»Â Second Battle of El Alamein
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Joachim von Ribbentrop, German Foreign Minister, Aug 1939
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