MONTGOMERY OF ALAMEIN by Alun Chalfont

MONTGOMERY OF ALAMEIN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A timely and judicious biography of Bernard Montgomery, the British WW II commander, written without recourse to Monty's private papers but providing astute appraisals of the man's character and his modus operandi. The battle descriptions per se are least notable: Chalfont points out the material superiority of the British in North Africa and Montgomery's failure to destroy Rommel as the Germans retreated, while the Overlord invasion of occupied Europe is discussed chiefly by way of the bickerings within the Allied command. Full due is given to the troops' affectionate respect for the otherwise loutish general; after his WW I experiences, Chalfont suggests, Montgomery was determined to waste no manpower and to imbue the lower ranks with full understanding of each operation. Montgomery's exceptional grasp of modern logistics and technology is also stressed, though not elaborated. Chalfont further denies that Monty was overcautious or inflexible in war; and after all, he never lost a battle from North Africa on. Monty's psychological history is elaborated with relish (the book caused something of a sensation in Britain, where it was generally thought harsh but just). After a straitened Fundamentalist boyhood spent at war with his mother, he was disgraced at Sandhurst for his exceptional sadism. Along with a late and devoted marriage ended by the shattering death of his wife, he preserved ""a certain epicene quality"" and austere love of young men. Impregnably self-righteous, he was also surpassingly skilled and dedicated: Chalfont conveys all these dimensions in a disarming, convincing fashion.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1976
Publisher: Atheneum