Eighth Army versus Rommel

Tactics, Training and Operations in North Africa 1940-1942

James Colvin

An explanation of why things went wrong for the Eighth Army for so long, despite the best efforts of brave and determined men.
Date Published :
November 2020
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Illustration :
36 b/w photos, 11 b/w maps
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781913336646
Pages : 256
Dimensions : 9.2 X 6.1 inches
Stock Status : Not Yet Published. Available for Pre-Order


A riveting account of the Desert War from 1940 through to Montgomery's battle of Alamein in 1942, comprehensively researched and rich in previously unpublished material. It looks at the undertrained and underfunded pre-war British Army, contrasting its leadership with their opposite numbers in Germany, and shows how and why the Eighth Army had difficulties in its first eighteen months against Rommel. It examines the battles from the perspective of the commanders, and looks at the decisions they made through the eyes of the front line soldiers, showing how cultural influences affected tactics and decisions of the British high command. Ultimately, British commanders were as much the product of their military culture and education as Rommel and his commanders were of theirs, but British military culture and education was, for much of this period, markedly less fit for purpose than the German.

Saul David, Professor of Military History at the University of Buckingham and author of All the King's Men and 100 Days to Victory, describes it as: ‘A compelling and highly original study, firmly based on archival research, that explains for the first time the real reason the British and Commonwealth troops struggled to overcome their German and Italian opposition in the Desert War: not because of inadequate generals and equipment per se, but rather because of inherent weaknesses in British military culture.’

About The Author

James Colvin has had a lifelong interest in the desert war, originally because several family members and friends were involved in it. Like most veterans of war, they found it very difficult to talk of their experiences to those who had not shared them, and he was often intrigued by contradictions and omissions in the accounts he heard. This book emerged from attempts to solve some of the puzzles. James earned a degree in history from Bristol University and after a business career embarked on a research degree in military history with the University of Buckingham. He spent several years in the Territorial Army with 44 Parachute Brigade, has made a contribution on the desert war to The History Network's World War 2 Podcast, and another on Eighth Army operations to the Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research. This book is his first full length work.

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