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War Without Hate: The Desert Campaign of 1940-43 Paperback – February 24, 2004
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About the Author
John Bierman is a former BBC correspondent and documentary filmmaker. Colin Smith covered many wars for the Observer and was its defense, Middle East, Asia, and Washington correspondent. Bierman and Smith have separately published a number of nonfiction books and have collaborated on the widely praised biography of Orde Wingate, Fire in the Night.
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The authors do a great job of getting the idea across that both of these armies had a deep respect for each other even though they were fighting for very different reasons and even though their national personalities and their soldiers' motivations were quite different. I came away with a new understanding of how different the Nazi party was from the German Army.
I did find one suspect fact about one of the SAS's planes but it was one line about a unit that is only briefly, although well covered in this book. (I suspect it is inaccurate because of everything else I've read about and by soldiers who were in the SAS but it is an insignificant issue and in no way takes away from the book.)
This book is over 400 pages yet it only took me a couple of days to read because it is mesmerizing.
Maps: it has great maps, which are usually missing from military books. The maps help the reader follow the action better and understand the different tactics employed by the various groups and the various sides.
Glossary: The only thing missing is a good glossary. For readers who aren't ex-military being able to flip to a glossary for explanations about ranks, unit sizes, weapons, acronyms, etc. can be quite helpful.
Having written all of this I'll say that this book is a solid 4.5 stars on the Amazon scale of 1-5. However, since I can't rate in half stars on Amazon, I'm giving the book the nod to 5 stars because the authors did a very good job of presenting the material and that made reading the book a pleasure. I will say though that I did prefer the first half of the book to the back half, partially because I feel that An Army at Dawn did a much better job of wrapping up the end in Tunis.
The writers captured the 'live and let live' feeling the combatants had in the harsh desert regions, many times risking their own lives to save wounded enemies. Lots of info about the armored aspects of the battles as well as the troops on each side with plenty of detail about the Italian troops, armor etc and lots of unique stories about actions where VCs were awarded.
Highly recommend this book for anyone tired of the usual run of the mill WWII histories as this sheds light on the more human side of war.
You won't regret reading this and the last few pages are terrific.
--"Turner had been touring his perimeter, helping a short-handed gun crew or tending the wounded when he could, exhorting when he could not. Bird sometimes wished he could find a happier choice of words. 'Come on, you're not dead yet,' he growled at the shaken occupants of a slit-trench who had been almost buried alive by a near-miss." pp. 304-305.
And the title seems to come from Rommel's prospective but never written book on the war: War without Hate.