DESPERATE VENTURE by Norman Gelb

DESPERATE VENTURE

The Story of Operation Torch, the Allied Invasion of North Africa

KIRKUS REVIEW

 For the 50th anniversary of one of WW II's pivotal campaigns, Gelb (Dunkirk, 1989, etc.) skillfully recounts the Allied invasion of North Africa, which--while itself of inherent strategic importance--became primarily significant as a testing ground for the fragile Anglo-American alliance. Operation Torch represented a compromise between British and American strategies for defeating Hitler. Gelb explains how the British--responding to setbacks early in the war--developed a strategy of engaging the Germans in peripheral conflicts in an effort to encircle and enervate the Nazi war machine, while the Americans sought an early invasion of Europe. Although Gelb questions the wisdom of the American decision to acquiesce to the British strategy--he theorizes that the more oblique approach may have unnecessarily prolonged the war--he shows that Operation Torch forged a firm alliance between British and American officers and gave the Allies a chance to develop skills in airborne and amphibious warfare and in intelligence techniques and land tactics- -skills that proved useful in the later invasions of Italy and France. Gelb also amply demonstrates the importance of interpersonal relationships to the success of the Allied cause. While relationships between British and American officers were tense at times--some Britons, such as Montgomery, viewed the Americans as militarily inept, while some Americans, such as Patton, saw the British as duplicitous--the presence of diplomatic personalities (like those of Roosevelt, Churchill, and Eisenhower) in key positions ensured the smooth functioning of the alliance. Engaging and well-researched. (Sixteen pages of b&w photos and two maps--not seen.)

Pub Date: July 21st, 1992
ISBN: 0-688-09883-5
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1992




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