THE TRAIL OF THE FOX by David Irving


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Rommel's reputation as a tough, brilliant anti-Hitler commander is qualified here by the author of the controversial Hitler's War (1976). Drawing on some newly-revealed Rommel diaries and other papers, this biography dubs the field marshal a ""20th-century Hannibal,"" dynamic and inspiring, while weak on strategic thinking, prone to tactical lapses like the refusal to exploit victory at Kasserine Pass, and overbearing with his peers (he referred to the Italian generals as ""shits""). Irving denies that Rommel was ever an anti-Nazi hero; what he proposed to Hitler in 1944, the book claims not altogether disapprovingly, was an alliance with the British against the Soviets. Irving also thinks Rommel was murdered by a fellow officer, rather than committing suicide, and although he associated with the Stulpnagel conspirators who tried to kill the Fuehrer, he was never part of the plot. Whether or not Rommel was bumped off after his capture on suspicion of involvement in the plot, or took poison, receives the closest scrutiny. The upshot isa sketch of a man of honor, troubled enough to see a psychiatrist in 1943, who would never have risen against the chief of state who had endowed him with such status. (The psychiatrist told him to keep repeating the words ""Think Victory."") Desmond Young's Rommel (1950) remains fresher and more acute, but as the most detailed personal history to date, this is a compelling portrait with suitably moderated sympathy.

Pub Date: Oct. 26th, 1977
Publisher: Dutton