The author of an excellent satirical novel of English industrial life, The Thumb now turns to serious history as he surveys the British generals who took, lost, then took the sands of Libya again, during fighting against Rommel in 1940- 1943. He calls it a study of the ""struggle of individual will against circumstances"". It is indeed this -- and far more. Some of Britain's finest military minds and bravest men--- O'Conners, Cunningham, Auchinleck, and Montgomery--- are examined closely in terms of personality, strategy, and the influences fate had upon them. The desert campaign is described with accuracy, if not with the minute details of the recent German offering, . This lack however is offset by the author's astonishing ability to conjecture, even it often seems, to enter into the minds of the British generals as they waged day to day war. The controversial nature of the book revolves around Churchill's political motivations, for changing generals, and especially, around Montgomery's role, as the author sees it. Auchinleck comes out in this scoreboard as the better commander, while Montgomery and his second battle of Alamein are deemed overrated. Excellent history, excellent writing.