A review of the 242 day siege of Tobruk in 1941 gives in detail the strategic picture as well as the conditions within the fortress, the perimeter, and at the harbor. The only good port on the West African coast between Alexandria and Sfax, Tobruk was to be ""held to the death"" to prevent Rommel from sweeping to the Nile; Wavell kept to this command in spite of continued land and air attack, the gamble of getting necessary supplies via 'A' lighters, and the slim chances of success of so few against so many. With Auchinleck replacing Wavell, Rommel's attempts increased and culminated in the defeat in October. Here are the stories of the ""Rats of Tobruk"", the Aussies -- later the Poles -- who lived and fought in the beleaguered area; the gallant work of the men and ships on the ""Spud Run""; the blitz tactics against hospitals and hospital ships; the lack of unity at command level and, later, of communication; the evidence that Tobruk's final collapse saved Malta, and that the ""8th Army was never defeated"". A recall of first importance to the military historian, this has the human touch that gives tribute to the British army and navy.