Desert Fox: The Storied Military Career of Erwin Rommel. By Samuel W. Micham, Jr. ISBN:978-1-62157-721-8 Hard Copy, ebook ISBN:978-1-62157-892-5, Regnery History  Release on March 12, 2019.

Just who was Erwin Rommel?

Erwin Rommel, the Desert Fox, was a German general and military theorist who served as a field marshal in the Defense Force of Nazi Germany.  Popularly known as the Desert Fox, he served as field marshal in the Wehrmacht (Defense Force) of Nazi Germany during World War II. He published a book on military tactics and infantry attacks using his experiences in both WWI and WWII.  During WWII Rommel commanded the 7th Panzer Division in the invasion of France. He was an excellent tank commander, which earned him the title of Desert Fox.

Rommel was mixed up in the plot to assassinate Hitler.  When this plot was discovered he was given a choice between committing suicide or facing trial.  Rommel took a cyanide pill and was given a state funeral as it was reported that he had died from injuries from his staff car being strafed in Normandy. You will read more about this in the book

Whether he was involved in the assassination attempt on Hitler, which has not been fully substantiated, his talents as a general who was involved in leading a clean war in the best interests of the West German reconciliation with former enemies (the U.S. and United Kingdom) and rearmament, are an area of a time in his life when he excelled and proved that he deserved his astute place in WWII history.  He might have been a victim of the Third Reich. I think he should, rightfully, have been considered another Patton. I would have placed him into that realm. What is apparent is that he carried out his duties in serving the German Wehrmacht.

This book will give you a nice introduction to an extraordinary individual…..Carol

About the Author: Samuel W. Mitcham Jr.’s book will give you a complete introduction to Erwin Rommel. Mitcham is known for his unique analysis of controversial figures from history, Mitcham examines the unsolved mysteries surrounding the Desert Fox and leaves readers admiring Rommel’s tactical genius and maintenance of chivalry despite where his allegiance lay. Mitcham has authored over 40 books, mostly about WWII. He is a visiting professor at West Point, served as an Army helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War, and has appeared on the History Channel and the BBC.

In the book, Mitcham addresses issues regarding Rommel such as: War hero or war criminal?  Man of integrity or Hitler flunky? Military genius or just lucky?

Bestselling military historian Samuel W. Mitcham Jr. gets to the heart of this mysterious figure, known as the Desert Fox: The Storied Military Career of Erwin Rommel (Regnery History; March 12, 2019; $29.99)—offering a fresh look at the Allies’ most well-respected opponent of WWII. This military-history biography explores the complexities of the controversial Nazi leader through his improbable and spectacular military career, his epic battles in North Africa, and his fraught relationship with Hitler and the Nazi Party.

Desert Fox: The Storied Military Career of Erwin Rommel reveals:

  • How Rommel’s victories in North Africa were sabotaged by Hitler’s incompetent interference
  • How Rommel burned Hitler’s orders telling him to commit war crimes
  • Why it wouldn’t have helped Patton if he really had read Rommel’s book
  • How Rommel was responsible for the Germans’ defense against the D-Day landing
  • Why the plot to overthrow Hitler was fatally compromised when Rommel was gravely injured in an Allied attack
  • The reason Rommel agreed to commit suicide after his part on the plot was discovered by Hitler

Excerpt from the Book-Rommel’s D-Day Defense-pages 297-300

The allied planners assumed it would be safe to land on this part of the coast and, based on the information they had, they were correct. The terrain was unfavorable, but resistance would be weak and quickly overrun. They did not know that the situation had fundamentally changed.  Had they known, they would have not landed there.

The name of this stretch of shoreline has gone down in history as Omaha Beach. The Americans would not know that the 352nd Infantry Division was manning its defense until D-Day has been in progress for some hours.  The news came as a nasty shock to their generals.

To make matter worse, Rommel had decided that a single battalion was insufficient to defend this sector. Omaha Beach would be defended by an entire German regiment.

As the Allied pre-invasion aerial offensive heightened and the season propitious for the invasion grew near.  Rommel redoubled his efforts. He looked forward to the invasion with profound confidence. Perhaps of greater importance, the German people and the soldiers of the Western Front felt the same way. “People see it as our last chance to turn the tide,” a secret Gestapo report stated.  “There is virtually no fear of invasion discernible.”


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3 COMMENTS

  1. I read that Rommel was so popular among the German people that the Nazis did not dare prosecute him, and that the choice he was given was between taking the cyanide pill or having his family murdered.

    Incidentally, my step-father told me that Rommel was even popular among our trrops in North Africa – so much so that they posted photos of him in their tents as a kind of pin-up. Monty, of course, when he arrived, was appalled when he discovered it, and ordered that they should all be taken down.

    One of the reasons he was almost worshipped, even by our side, was that he had ordered prisoners to be treated with respect, not harmed – perhaps an old-fashioned military chivalry. Another, of course, was that he led from the front.

    One thing that would have tickled our troops to bits, I think, was that he had his tanks drag broomsticks behind them to beat up a lot of dust, and make it seem as if there were a far bigger number of them than there actually were !

    • Aah, Rommel, the man, the myth, the legend. I have read most of the English books on the man and studied him in great depth. To be frank, he was not a great commander, he had many flaws and his failures are legion. What he was, was a very aggressive and hard driving Company commander – see his excellent infiltration campaign in Italy in 1917. However, he was over-promoted way past the level he should have, as he remained that hard-driving, lead from the front guy of 1917 and this frequently caused a lot of trouble for his men in WW2. For instance, in the Western Desert, while he was sometimes brilliant, he was often reckless and away from his HQ at vital times, it was only sheer good luck and British disorganisation that allowed him to last as long as he did. For example, during his initial 1941 advance against the British, he didn’t face an organised, coherent British Force as O’Connor’s Western Desert Force that had so comprehensively smashed the Italians had been disbanded, it’s key components having been sent off by that rat Churchill to fight a pointless losing campaign in Greece, just one notable time Churchill snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Rommel was able to take advantage of the depleted, disorganised state of the British forces spread out across Libya and actually reached the Egyptian border, but on several occasions, was caught away from his HQ leading individual companies and battalions when he should have been directing the battle from HQ. Luckily, he had excellent, experienced and competent commanders at the Regiment and Division level so they could avoid disaster. Rommel almost got himself captured several times and he was as much a detriment to German success in this period as he was an inspiration to his troops. Another big slice of luck for Rommel was that the British Division and Corps level commanders were not very effective, largely due to outdated doctrine concerning combined arms warfare. Auchinleck was more than a match for Rommel as a commander, but as he had the entire theatre to command, he wasn’t able to be a fully effective army commander, had to use subordinates of lesser ability such as Norrie and Neame to run the battles, but was still able to formulate a defense that stopped Rommel dead. The biggest chunk of luck for Rommel was when General O’Connor was captured just after returning to theatre; O’Connor would likely have done to Rommel what he did to the Italians a year earlier – thrashed them into the sand. Later, in Normandy, Rommel did okay, before a British fighter bomber almost got him. There were a couple of dozen German commanders of Corps and Army level of better capability in those roles than Rommel, but they mostly fought the Russians and weren’t the subject of the propaganda aggrandisement Rommel got. Rommel was a great leader of small to medium sized units and only a mediocre general liable to make reckless mistakes when commanding Corps and Army sized formations. The British have a habit of aggrandising their opponents, and Rommel is the shining example.

  2. “I think he should, rightfully, have been considered another Patton. I would have placed him into that realm.”

    Good point, Carol. For all I have read about Rommel and admired him as a general and as a soldier, that particular parallel had simply never occurred to me. Very apt!

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