Here is my review. If you have thoughts, feel free to share them:
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.
When I first heard about this book I heard about Rose, 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
The story itself is relayed to us through an unpublished memoir of a British officer (Chapman) who was attached ever so briefly to the LRDG in late 1942.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. Chapman and his fictional T3 patrol do not spend days or even weeks planning a mission down to the last detail. You will also be disappointed if you are expecting a technical manual on the weapons and equipment used by the LRDG.
What will not disappoint are the actual story and the writing style of Pressfield. The story moves quickly and smoothly form one chapter to the next. The story begins with the Chapman as a young man, shortly before entering college. As war is declared, he enlists and is commissioned in a Royal Tank Regiment. He is soon shipped to
Upon assignment, Chapman is introduced to many names familiar to people who are familiar with the LRDG. Pressfield uses this opportunity to introduce these same people to the reading audience, a common plot device that is often necessary to advance a story. Pressfield does this quite well and what could have been an annoyance to the already informed, flows smoothly.
As I mentioned before, Pressfield does not tire us with a mind numbing technical jargon about the LRDG equipment. This also keeps the story going. What we have in place of the jargon is what sounds like personal recollection of what patrols needed to do to keep the vehicles moving and keep weapons operational in the harsh
The book is not a history lesson. If you have a better than average knowledge of the LRDG, the story will not tell you anything new about their operations or equipment. If you have no knowledge of the LRDG, the book will give you a good understanding of the unit without overwhelming or boring you.
Why should you read this story? If for no other reason, any reader of World War II fiction should happily embrace this book because of the lack of good fiction about the desert war. While the desert war is well represented with memoirs, there is very little fiction set during this phase of the World War II, a phase which occupied a full half of the war for
Furthermore there are few fictional accounts of actual commando type attacks. Most instead focus on the cloak and dagger type missions similar to Alistair MacLean’s Guns of Navarone or Where Eagles Dare. Pressfield has forgone these super-hero stories and the age old concept of Private Armies and engages us with a story of an actual special force unit, performing a typical, if improbable mission, during the desert war.
He has woven his fictional characters into a patch work of actual persons and created a desert war that captures the actual memoirs of those who had fought in the war. With the story, you get the feeling of the brave lads who rushed to volunteer for the war, the reality of tank battles in the desert where your armor is no match for the enemy, the quiet confidence and determination of the LRDG and the common comradery of soldiers and the guilt and anguish associated with surviving it all.
The book is highly recommended for the LRDG enthusiast and anyone who enjoys World War II fiction.