Monty and Rommel: Parallel Lives

Peter Caddick-Adams, Author
Peter Caddick-Adams. Overlook, $35 (640p) ISBN 978-1-59020-725-3
Paperback - 614 pages - 978-1-84809-154-2
Paperback - 614 pages - 978-1-4683-0498-5
Open Ebook - 640 pages - 978-1-4090-5092-6
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Bernard Law Montgomery and Erwin Rommel are ideal subjects for a comparative military biography. These two WWII generals confronted each other directly over a significant period of time, under different conditions: the deserts of North Africa and Normandy’s woodlands. Their styles were fundamentally different. Rommel was a master of maneuver; Montgomery excelled in the set-piece battle. Rommel was an improviser; Montgomery was a planner. Rommel was a gambler; Montgomery possessed an infinite capacity for avoiding risk. But Caddick-Adams, a distinguished British military writer and defense analyst, demonstrates as well that the two commanders had much in common. Each understood the strengths and limitations of the armies in which he served and the forces he commanded. Montgomery knew British soldiers could not be made to fight like Germans. Rommel was aware that the Third Reich was waging war on a shoestring and had to take risks for victory. Both lacked political sophistication. Montgomery faced dismissal by Winston Churchill in the war’s final months. Rommel’s misjudgment of Hitler cost him his life. But each was a master of the battlefield, feared and respected by his opponents. Without choosing between them, Caddick-Adams compares Rommel to a bold “modernist painter” and Montgomery to a painstaking “seventeenth-century minimalist.” It is a striking, appropriate conclusion to an excellent book. 40 b&w photos; 10 maps. (Feb.)
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