review-rommels-greatest
Rommel's Greatest Victory: The Desert Fox and the Fall of Tobruk, Spring 1942
Samuel W. Mitcham
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This book is a detailed study of the battle for Tobruk in spring 1942. All the days between May 26th and June 21th are described and analyzed.

The book begins with a recapitulation of the earlier campaigns. The British action against the Italians in 1940-41 is covered briefly. The first offensive of the Afrika Korps in 1941 is also rapidly described. Then, the strategical situation in May 1942, of both side, is explained with order of battle, tanks strength and commander views.

Everything is now set up for the capture of Tobruk which is described until the end of the book. A thorough day to day study is then done. All units movements are tracked with geographical reference and, in most case, with the time of departure and arrival. The British (South African and Indian also included) units are especially well described. Their commanders abilities are analyzed and it helps to understand some military decisions. The German units are also well described but the descriptions do not go as far as for the British ones. For the latter, they are studied down to regimental level regulary. In the German case, it is done too, but less often then the British. The Italian units are poorly described; only divisions and corps are mentionned and almost nothing is written about their commanders.

The main criticism I would like to make concerns the attitude of the author toward the Italian units. Their role are neglected and their actions are described rapidly and in an imprecise way. As for example, the Trieste and Pavia divisions did a great work in making a breach in the Gazala line to establish a supply route with the Afrika Korps trapped in the "Cauldron". This fact is not covered deeply in this book. Also, the maps included are of poor quality and does not have all the geographical locations that are mentionned. Despite these inconvenients, this book is good description of the battle for Tobruk. It shows that British tactics were inferior to the German ones and it also explains why. At end of the book, you can easily understand why the Desert Fox was so successful against the British.

The book also include 32 photographs of various type (mainly german and italian) with an appropriate description.

(Reviewed by Olivier Palardy)

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