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Infantry Attacks Paperback – February 6, 2014
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Library Journal, October 1, 2006
"Though most people immediately connect Rommel with the Africa campaigns of World War II, he made his initial legendary giant steps during the First World War. In this 1935 title, he recalls his greatest battles, outlines how he won them, and provides his strategies on the use of armor in the field--lessons ultimately used by Patton and other Allied tank commanders to defeat him."
Military History, August 2007“Infantry Attacks reads like an adventure novel and became a 1930s bestseller that not only made Rommel rich, but also prompted Hitler to make him commander of his personal military bodyguard.”
Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German
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Top Customer Reviews
"Attacks" published by Athena press went back and translated the original book and isn't missing any maps or drawings, it is also a lot better laid out.
It is called 'Attacks' and not 'Infantry Attacks' and is also available on Amazon.
But review wise on 'Attacks' that i am reading right now, Five Starts and a half. Rommel inspires me and it is a great read.
Infantry Attacks is basically a war travelogue. It is an autobiography not of war anguish, but of war practice. Informally written, it features Rommel leading small units, usually involving fast action against other small units. We typically associate World War One with Western Front trench warfare, and although Rommel did fight there and records it, much of the book is concerned with other fronts.
The first other front is the Carpathian border between Rumania and Hungary. (Well, what was then the border, before Transylvania was taken by the victorious Allies from Hungary, of which Transylvania had been a part for more than a thousand years, and given to the Rumanians to reward them for finally entering the war in 1916, when they figured out who was winning the war. Then the Rumanians also switched sides to gain advantage in World War Two.). The second is mountain warfare on the Austrian/Italian front, including the Battle of Caporetto, where Rommel won the Pour le Mérite, Germany’s highest military honor (informally called the Blue Max. and jarringly formally named in French, for historical reasons).
The book is written primarily as an instructional manual, drawing lessons from the detailed small unit actions Rommel describes. In passing, it also burnishes Rommel’s reputation (which grew in interwar Germany in part due to this book), even though Rommel not infrequently criticizes his own performance. Finally, the book serves as a platform for Rommel’s thoughts on what constitutes an honorable German soldier, which are pretty much as you’d expect for the time and place.
What strikes the modern reader most about the book is that it has a very different view of World War One fighting than we are used to. Most of the time, we think of World War One as unrelieved horror to no point, led by clueless generals and political leaders, featuring such low points as endless static trench fighting, Verdun, poison gas, and Gallipoli. Rommel enjoyed war, and he was good at it, and it shows continuously in the book. He frequently mentions how “exciting” a particular fight is, often in reference to “grenade duels.” He doesn’t spend any time at all navel gazing or reflecting on what lessons about human nature are being taught.
His men apparently worshipped him (although that is only obliquely evident in the book). One gets the impression, though, that was not due to his common touch, which is nowhere in evidence, but to his demi-godlike stature as a man who led from the front and was able to minimize his men’s casualties. As he says, “Winning the men’s confidence requires much of a commander. . . . . But once he has their confidence, his men will follow him through hell and high water.” Sounds easy, but reading the book you can see the things he did to really put that into practice successfully. (Someone would doubtless have written a book on applying the lessons of Rommel to business, if not for the unfortunate Nazi overtones that such a book would generate.)
We may think it’s odd, but we should remember that history and armies are full of examples of people who actually don’t mind, or actually positively enjoy, war, who nonetheless aren’t psychopaths or insane. It’s not just generals standing back from the battlefield, either—it’s just as much people like Rommel, engaged in “retail” war, who enjoy it.
Infantry Attacks can feel repetitive, particularly for a reader who doesn’t know the relevant geography or military tactics in detail. I’m sure for a military practitioner, each skirmish and battle in which Rommel describes his and his men’s part in detail, complete with Rommel’s hand drawn maps and sketches, teaches its own valuable lessons. But even for a causal or non-military leader, there is a lot of value in reading the book. It gives an invaluable flavor of the time and the war, very different from what normally receive, and is therefore very much worth reading.
These are lessions that would have been useful from the American civil war through to today.
(1) The pictures on the front are of wwii stuff, while this book is about wwi - Why??
(2) Rommel fought on the evil side in not just one, but two world wars
(3) He sounds like a not-very-nice chap
(4) It's obvious that there's a bit of self promotion going on here
I highly recommend this book. The man was clearly a military genius, and, I think this book gives you a bit of an insight into that. As an avid reader of military history, and a wargamer I was inspired by this.
Perhaps an interesting compare and contrast would be Slim's "Defeat into victory"Defeat Into Victory: Battling Japan in Burma and India, 1942-1945 as he was also a very talented general, who seems like a nice guy, fought on the right side and wasn't quite as big into self-promotion. Although Rommel was as fond of his Wurtemburgers as Slim was of his Gurkas...