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The Desert Fox in Normandy: Rommel's Defense of Fortress Europe Paperback – August 20, 2001
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From Library Journal
In a well-balanced examination, Mitcham (Why Hitler?, LJ 12/96) presents the battle of Normandy from the viewpoint of German Army Group B commander Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, covering the period from December 1943 to July 14, 1944, the day Rommel was wounded by an Allied fighter-bomber. Mitcham describes Rommel's impact on strengthening German defenses in anticipation of the Allied invasion and the affect of his absence from France during the invasion. He also shows how Rommel executed one of his most brilliant campaigns in defending France's Cotentin Peninsula with next to no reinforcements or resupply. Using little-known or ignored primary sources, the author contradicts other published accounts not only of Rommel but also of his officers and his connections with the Hitler assassination attempt of July 20. A worthy study that should interest all readers.?David Lee Poremba, Detroit P.L.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
"A suitable companion to Stephen E. Ambrose's Citizen Soldiers.... The book gives readers an appreciation of the tenacity of the German soldier. (Armor)
A fascinating account, from the German point of view, of what went wrong in the Normandy campaign. (Associated Press)
An excellent account of Rommel's engineering and tactical accomplishments during the last few months of his life, from the end of 1943 to his involuntary suicide in 1944. (Publishers Weekly)
A well-balanced examination.... Mitcham shows how Rommel executed one of his most brilliant campaigns in defending France with next to no reinforcements or resupply.... A worthy study that should interest all readers. (Library Journal)
Mitcham weaves a fascinating story of heroic striving by Rommel, and by his German troops, to overcome time and German senior mismanagement. This book would be a valuable addition to any collection of works on World War II, both for its masterful coverage of Axis military organizational, operational, and tactical activities, as well as for its excellent minibiographies of important German military and naval officers. They alone are sufficient reason to acquire this book. (Journal of Military History)
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If you have an interest in D-Day, I would strongly recommend this book and if you have interest in Rommel I would also strongly recommend. But if you are just looking at a broad overview of the Normandy campaign or an indepth biography of Rommel you should look elsewhere.
Rommel was convinced that the only way to defeat the Allied invasion was to push them back into the sea within the first few days when the Allies would be at their weakest. To accomplish this the panzer divisions would have to be nearer the shore. A problem with this theory is that neither Rommel or the author explains how the panzers would be protected from Allied air strikes.
After the deliberate situational coverage prior to the landinggs, the author delivers a brief but decent summary of the engagements up to the end of July that will include Operation Cobra. Attempts at holding the beach, St Lo and the defense in the Caen sector are also covered in typical Mitcham fashion. The near fatal wounding of Rommel on July 17th and his subsequent recovery is discussed as well as his slight involvement in the plot to assassinate Hitler. The book ends in an attempt to save his family, Rommel commits suicide for the alleged involvment in the assassination attempt.
There are a few maps and some good photos to study as well. The author, as usual, also provides an extensive Notes section.
I take issue on three minor statements the author has made. The author states the Germans had 2000 panzers destroyed at Kursk. I believe that's an over statement. He also claims Japan was a good Ally of Germany which is false. The repeated misspelling of Adm Canaris's name was also disappointing.
For anybody not familiar with Rommel this book would be a good starter book. Its not comprehensive but it is engaging and an easy read. It provides Rommel's insight and drive as a career officier and it shows a glimpse into Rommel's personal life.
Anybody who is well read on WWII will probably not find anything new on Rommel in this book but its still worth having in your collection if your're a Rommel fan.