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Posted on Aug 19, 2008 in Books and Movies

Rommel’s Peace – Book Review

By Alexander Wilson

His effort is brought to its knees once and for all by two historical incidents that Wells skillfully weaves into his novel: Col. Claus von Stauffenberg’s failed bomb plot against Hitler and the RAF’s strafing attack on Rommel on July 18. In the novel, the British planes attack his staff car as he is on his way to obtain a guarantee from Sepp Dietrich that the SS will surrender to British field marshal Bernard Montgomery along with the Wehrmacht.

Although we know the Desert Fox must ultimately fail in his endeavor, Rommel’s Peace is still a good read and, at just 201 pages, it can easily be finished in a few hours. Overall, it is an average novel based on an intriguing hypothesis. The plot is at times well written but in other spots is almost laughably implausible.

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For example, just before Speigner is interned by Army Intelligence, he meets a friend of his, a female courier in the Royal Navy, whom he asks to carry his message on to SHAEF. Despite the fact that she does not have top-level security clearance and no real way to verify her story, she somehow manages to meet both Eisenhower and Churchill in person. Lawrence Wells is a good writer and Rommel’s Peace is not a bad book, but it is not of the same caliber as other historical novels set in WWII, such as Stephen Pressfield’s recent Killing Rommel.

Alternate history buffs and Rommel fans should enjoy the book, as well as serious students of WWII looking for a little light reading. It is an intriguing look at what might have happened had Rommel ever actually gone through with making everything “all quiet on the Western Front.” Rommel’s Peace receives three out of five stars: good, but not excellent.

 

Alexander Wilson has been interested in military history since the age of eight. His favorite topic is the Second World War, though he also enjoys Ancient and Medieval history and the American Civil War. When he is not studying, working, or writing articles and poetry, he can usually be found reading, fielding his Italian Axis and Allies Miniatures army, or browsing the Armchair General Forums under the username, CatholicCrusade.

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2 Comments

  1. Thank you very much Mr. Swick for posting my review. I–and all the other members of the ACG forums–deeply appreciate all of the time and hard work you put into this excellent, well-managed and well-formatted website.

    Regards,
    Alex
    CC

  2. Lately, some motivated elements are trying to besmirch Field Marshal Rommel’s well earned reputation for fair mindedness, chivalry and personal integrity, who easily happens to the most outstanding military commander of World War II. He would have vanquished Montgomery had Hitler given him a few divisions and some supplies.

    Rommel’s splendid record as a general, husband and father and basic decency needs no certification by fringe groups, which always thrive on creating controversies where none exist, even if they have to resort to character assassination, or take the help of half truths to pass them off as plausible facts, because that is the only way they can grab your attention.

    For instance, novelist David Baldacci sums up the business of half-truths very pointedly in The Whole Truth, about how notorious arms dealer Nicholas Creel won’t stop at anything to sell billions of dollars of lethal weapons and set the world on fire, even if that takes a million lives. He employs the sinister tools of ‘Perception Management’ to accomplish his nefarious ends without a finger being raised at him.

    Those who are casting slurs on the field marshal as a ‘racist’s don’t seem to be familiar with basic facts. Do they know that Rommel put his foot down when some racist South African generals in the British Army insisted on segregating themselves from their enlisted men, just because they happened to be blacks, at the time of surrender. The Desert Fox firmly reminded them of the oath they had taken together to serve their country. So he would not permit them to stay in separate barracks.

    Did Rommel’s detractors know that he tore up the Fuhrer’s order decreeing that all British commandos should be executed if captured alive? Similarly, Rommel trashed Mussolini’s message to exterminate Tunisian Muslim tribals for murdering Italian soldiers who had raped their women, because he had the wisdom to see it could ignite a rebellion in his own Afrika Korps’ backyard.

    How many generals in the US or European armies or even politicians today would be as perceptive or as courageous.
    Rommel had the guts to defy an absolute dictator like Hitler when circumstances demanded. He partook of the same Spartan rations that his men shared with the POWs, even to few ounces of water.

    Had Rommel been alive today, he would have been the world’s greatest corporate honcho and administrator par excellence. I don’t think any military would ever come within hollering distance of Afrika Korps in terms of performance, prowess or sheer bravery. By the force of his character and personality, Rommel had forged his miniscule army into the finest fighting formation in the history of modern warfare.
    Shudip

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