KNIGHT'S CROSS by David Fraser


The Life of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel
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 A judicious appraisal of Germany's best-known WW II soldier, from a retired British general whose published works include a well-regarded 1982 biography of Lord Alanbrook. Drawing on archival and secondary sources, as well as on the assistance of Rommel's son, Fraser offers a nuanced portrait of the so-called Desert Fox. The son of a Swabian schoolmaster, Rommel decided to make arms his profession at an early age. Commissioned less than three years before the outbreak of WW I, he led small units in combat on several fronts, earning the highest awards for bravery. Rommel's organizational gifts attracted Hitler's attention after their initial 1934 meeting, and the officer was given command of the 7th Panzer Division, which spearheaded the Wehrmacht's 1940 conquest of France. Posted to the North African theater early in 1941, he made a world-class name for himself as a master of battlefield maneuver by keeping better-equipped, numerically superior enemy forces at bay for over two years in campaigns from Cyrenaica to the Kasserine Pass. Back in Europe in mid-1943, Rommel oversaw strengthening of Axis defenses against an anticipated invasion by the Allies. Anglo-American troops nonetheless gained a secure foothold in Normandy, which marked the beginning of the Third Reich's end. Meanwhile, Rommel (who'd been implicated in a plot to assassinate Hitler) chose to commit suicide in return for a promise that his family would not be harmed. In addition to authoritative critiques of Rommel's military career, Fraser probes the content of his character and provides perceptive takes on the geopolitical as well as socioeconomic events that made him an originally enthusiastic instrument of an abhorrent movement he never formally joined. A tellingly detailed account that manages to put Rommel into a human context. (Sixteen pages of b&w photos and 20 helpful maps)

Pub Date: Feb. 28th, 1994
ISBN: 0-06-018222-9
Page count: 616pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1993


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