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Killing Rommel: A Novel Paperback – June 2, 2009

4.2 out of 5 stars 128 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. After five novels about conflict in ancient times (Gates of War, etc.), Pressfield effortlessly gives fresh life to wartime romance and the rigors of combat in a superior WWII thriller. Framed as the memoir of a British officer, the book is based on an actual British plot to assassinate the "Desert Fox," German field marshal Erwin Rommel, during late 1942 and early 1943 in North Africa. The author painstakingly sets the stage for later fireworks by charting the prewar career of R. Lawrence "Chap" Chapman, especially his relationship with the brilliant but doomed Zachary Stein, Chap's tutor and mentor at Oxford. Chap also falls in love with sexy Rose McCall, whose brains and brass later get her posted to naval intelligence in Egypt. As a young lieutenant, Chap joins the team assembled to go after Rommel. Pressfield expertly juxtaposes the personal with the historical, with authentic battle descriptions. Crisp writing carries readers through success, failure and a final face-to-face encounter with Rommel that's no less exciting for knowing the outcome. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Moving away from the ancient world and into the 20th century seems to have served Steven Pressfield quite well. Many readers may be unfamiliar with the Long Range Desert Group (popularized in the 1960s TV series The Rat Patrol), but this powerful, thoroughly researched novel should change that. Pressfield creates the same edge-of-your-seat drama, remarkable battle scenes, and strong characters that populate his acclaimed novels of ancient warfare. Chapman contemplates war as he learns to fight and lead amid carnage; Rommel’s spirit threatens like a dark cloud over the entire story; and the ruthless desert emerges as its own character. The reviewer at Armchair General sums it up: “Reading Killing Rommel is the closest thing to actually participating in one of these daring WWII raids in the trackless desert of North Africa that any of us today will ever get.”
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 293 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; Reprint edition (June 2, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767926161
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767926164
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (128 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #121,516 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Steven Pressfield is the author of Gates of Fire, Tides of War, Last of the Amazons, Virtues of War, The Afghan Campaign, Killing Rommel, The Profession, The Lion's Gate, The War of Art, Turning Pro, The Authentic Swing, Do the Work and The Warrior Ethos.

His debut novel, The Legend of Bagger Vance, was adapted for screen. A film of the same title was released in 2000, directed by Robert Redford and starring Matt Damon, Will Smith and Charlize Theron.

His father was in the Navy, and he was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, in 1943. Since graduating from Duke University in 1965, he has been a U.S. Marine, an advertising copywriter, schoolteacher, tractor-trailer driver, bartender, oilfield roustabout, attendant in a mental hospital and screenwriter.

His struggles to earn a living as a writer (it took seventeen years to get the first paycheck) are detailed in The War of Art, Turning Pro and The Authentic Swing.

There's a recurring character in his books, named Telamon, a mercenary of ancient days. Telamon doesn't say much. He rarely gets hurt or wounded. And he never seems to age. His view of the profession of arms is a lot like Pressfield's conception of art and the artist:

"It is one thing to study war, and another to live the warrior's life."

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The short line on Steven Pressfield's new book: the best. It almost hurts to write that because I've hung to Gates of Fire for a decade at the top of my best books ever list, a list that includes books from a wide genre, Victor Hugo to Stephen King, Tom Clancy to Par Lagerkvist, Mark Helprin to Howard Fast and everywhere in between. Pressfield's characters captured me from the first pages, and this tale of honor among men refused to let me put the book down. If you are a Pressfield fan, this book will not disappoint you on any level. If you are new to Mr. Pressfield, this book will encourage you to read his others.

I am particularly fond of historical novels because I consider them a painless way to learn history. Mr. Pressfield has never failed to teach his readers all the details within the historical context in which he writes, in this case, about the little known Long Range Desert Group, the LRDG, the predecessor to Special Forces as we know them in the modern era.

The story is simple: the memoir of a LRDG lieutenant who is part of a mission to kill Field Marshall Rommel and thereby disrupt the Axis control of North Africa and its hold on oil assets in the Middle East during World War II. The characters are noteworthy: average men with simple vocations who rise above their commonality in extraordinary circumstances by committing themselves to a mission simply because it was their job. The prose is crisp and fast and the story moves quickly and with intensity.

That is the short of it: great story with great characters that is impossible to put down until you've finished the final page. Scrupulously researched like all Pressfield books and packed with the type of action that would draw viewers to the big screen in droves.
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Format: Hardcover
I struggled for awhile with Steven Pressfield's Killing Rommel, but came to appreciate it more the deeper I delved into its compelling story. The difficulty I had was in finding motivation for the characters among the almost overwhelmingly detailed descriptions of the theater of war, the weapons, the military organizations, politics, and combat operations. Once I allowed the voices of the characters to come through, however, I discovered that they were driven by a simple but powerful force: honor.

The authoritative chronicle of military history is Pressfield's forte. In this book, he brings his considerable research and facile presentation style to the story of an unsung secret unit of the British Army, the Long Range Desert Group, whose mission is simple: find and kill the legendary commander of the German Afrika Korps, Field Marshall Erwin Rommel. The story takes place in 1942, when Rommel and his Panzers have defeated the British Eighth Army and stand ready to capture Egypt, Suez, and the oilfields of Arabia.

The LRDG is sent to decapitate the Afrika Korps by killing its leader, a desperate bid to turn the tide of the war. The story is based on actual ops, but told from the point of view of a young Lieutenant, "Chap" Chapman, who has recently married his sweetheart before shipping out for the desert. His attempts to communicate with her and meet their new-born child provide welcome human interest relief from the unending tales of desert warfare.

Pressfield goes to great length to show the reader what combat is like, with extensive descriptions of tactics, weapons, and the skills necessary to survive in the brutal desert environment.
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Format: Hardcover
Killing Rommel is the latest effort from the noted historical fiction author, Steven Pressfield. This fast paced book is different than most of Pressfield's titles which normally focus on ancient warfare. As the title suggests, this story is set during World War II. The story is treated as a first hand account of a British officer, Lt. Chapman, who is attached to the British Long Range Desert Group (LRDG) who along with the Special Air Service have been given a mission to assassinate Field Marshal Erwin Rommel.

Upon first hearing about the book, two things concerned me. First was the mission, assassinating Rommel, second was Rose, Chapman's wife.
I was aware, as are many people familiar with the desert war, that the British had indeed planned a mission to capture or kill Rommel but the mission came to naught. As the book was a work of fiction, I could accept that the LRDG would assist in such a mission.

Rose is Chapman's wife. I was worried that somehow Pressfield was going to have this signal expert be part of the patrol. If this thought has crossed your mind, you can breathe easy. Rose is simply the wife of the protagonist and is stationed in Egypt. This actually happened with some regularity during World War II. While Rose, is central to the development of Chapman's character she is not central to the mission. Her character is used to advance the story, principally through Chapman writing to and thinking about her.

The story itself is relayed to us through an unpublished memoir of a British officer (Chapman) who was attached ever so briefly to the LRDG in late 1942. If you are expecting a book similar to The Eagle as Landed, by Jack Higgins, you will be disappointed. Despite the title, the book`s central focus is not the mission to kill Rommel.
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