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Knight's cross : a life of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel

Author: David Fraser
Publisher: New York, NY : HarperCollins, ©1993.
Edition/Format:   Book : Biography : English : 1st U.S. edView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
In any numbering of the great captains of history, the name of Erwin Rommel must stand in the first rank. He was the outstanding Axis field commander of the Second World War, and was respected, even admired, as well as feared by his opponents. Here, it seemed to the Allies, was a supremely professional soldier: chivalrous, decent, untainted by the crimes of the Nazi regime, carrying out his duty with often dazzling
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Genre/Form: Biography
Military history
Biographie
Named Person: Erwin Rommel; Erwin Rommel; Erwin Rommel; Erwin Rommel
Material Type: Biography
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: David Fraser
ISBN: 0060182229 9780060182229 0060925973 9780060925970
OCLC Number: 29387704
Description: xv, 601 pages : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm
Contents: 'Keep the right wing strong' --
The swoop of the falcon --
Gebirgsbataillon --
Pour le merite --
Soldier without politics --
Darkness and dawn --
A personal assignment --
Command from the front --
'To the last breath of man and baast' --
The ghost division --
Sunflowers in Africa --
'The seydlitz of the Panzer corps' --
Panzer Gruppe Afrika --
'Rommel an der spitze!' --
The end of the line --
Watershed --
Curtainfall --
The sunray lamp --
Invasion --
The last battle --
'For the honour of Germany' --
'What did Rommel know?' --
A necessary end.
Responsibility: David Fraser.

Abstract:

In any numbering of the great captains of history, the name of Erwin Rommel must stand in the first rank. He was the outstanding Axis field commander of the Second World War, and was respected, even admired, as well as feared by his opponents. Here, it seemed to the Allies, was a supremely professional soldier: chivalrous, decent, untainted by the crimes of the Nazi regime, carrying out his duty with often dazzling success.

David Fraser's book - surely the definitive study - brings to Rommel's career not only the perceptions of an acclaimed biographer, but those of a distinguished soldier too: his insights into Rommel's mind and methods carry the authority of experience. He shows how inspiringly spontaneous and superficially haphazard Rommel's style of leadership could be: 'Rommel believed that war is a reckless, untidy business, and that the habits of mind of a methodical manager are alien to what is required.' Instead, his hallmarks were boldness of manoeuvre, ferocity in attack, and tenacity in pursuit. These were the qualities he displayed in his great battles in the North African desert; they were, David Fraser demonstrates, evident from his earliest battles in the First World War to his last, defending Fortress Europe from the Allied invasion of 1944.

This is, first and foremost, a biography of a soldier. But Rommel reached a position in which he almost inevitably became embroiled in politics. When he realized that the Allied invasion was going to succeed, he realized also that the only way to save Germany was somehow to negotiate a peace settlement. He tried to present Hitler - to whom he had always been devoted, and who had always shown him a particular respect and affection - with the military realities: he was branded a defeatist and ignored. But his opinions, and his apparent links (meticulously discussed by Fraser) with the Stauffenberg plotters of July 1944 - one of them, under interrogation, mentioned Rommel as a possible head of post-Hitlerian Germany - condemned him in the eyes of the Fuhrer he had served so loyally. He was offered the choice of trial by a People's Court - a sham of course - or suicide, a state funeral and protection for his family. He chose the latter.

Rommel is not, to David Fraser, a flawless hero: his failings as well as his genius are recorded here. But he had that instinct for battle and leadership which sets him apart from his contemporaries and places him among the great commanders.

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