Ike and Monty : generals at war
First question: Is there a relationship between the quality of generalship and the quality of a memoir? I think there is, if only because the more adept and successful generals have more interesting stories to tell. All successful generals are different, but all defeated generals are essentially similar-or at least their memoirs are. By contrast, what would Fredendall or Short have to say? So his memoir is worse than his record would indicate. Trending Now Sponsored Links by Taboola. Sign up for free access to 1 article per month and weekly email updates from expert policy analysts.
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To get access to this special FP Premium benefit, upgrade your subscription by clicking the button below. Thank you for being an FP reader. To get access to this special FP Premium benefit, subscribe by clicking the button below. I have yet to read some of those by MacArthur and his band By Thomas E. Ricks July 6, , PM. Thomas E.
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Ricks covered the U. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment gmail. View Comments.
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Tags: History , Military. More from Foreign Policy. September 21, , AM. The point about Monty was that he was the man who had licked the legendary Rommel at the battle of El Alamein in November The actual encounter, in the wastes of a desert somewhere west of Cairo, mattered less than the fact that Rommel had been beaten by the forces of the British Empire, which had hitherto not been having a good war beyond simply surviving.
Rommel was another poster boy; and El Alamein thus became the ultimate brand-image war, as well as the place where more than enough blood and toil and tears and sweat had been spilled in the sand. Ernest Hemingway, that grizzled connoisseur of blood, sand, and tears, used one of his later novels, Across the River and into the Trees, in , to offer his own grade-assessments on many of the generals of World War II. All the rest is cabbage, as my old friend Dr.
Rommel put it. It is a wonderful mine of information for fans of either general, but unfortunately this will not have the effect of doubling its sales, precisely because of the close overlap between the two constituencies. For virtually every member of the Monty fan club has a certain amount of respect for Rommel.
Worst generals’ memoir of World War II? – Foreign Policy
In these unhappy days when Anglophobia is suddenly as vocal in the Federal Republic as Euroscepticism is in Britain, this mutual admiration must be one of the strongest bonds of Anglo-German friendship. Nor is this paradox of recent origin, or simply a product of postwar nostalgia. Both Churchill and Goebbels appreciated at the time that each had a potential advantage in talking up the stature of the opposing generals, since the real winnings would accrue to the side that won.
By this test, the winner was clearly the man who subsequently became Viscount Montgomery of Alamein.
Thus the U. By contrast, Rommel missed the beginning of the battle at El Alamein, and when he finally got there failed to turn the enemy in its tracks as he had done before.
Bested in North Africa, he was given a key role in the defense of Nazi-occupied France, in which his successes were tactical at best. Moreover, the famous Panzer general was rather too mobile for his own good, as he discovered when Allied aircraft knocked out his staff car and left him seriously injured on July 17, , after only forty-one days of his own Normandy campaign.
Three days later, the plot to assassinate Hitler failed, and Rommel was implicated, to an extent that remains controversial. By the time he was well enough to resume his duties, he was judged well enough also to face investigation and to be offered the option of suicide.