Desperate Venture: The Story of Operation Torch, the Allied Invasion of North Africa

Norman Gelb, Author William Morrow & Company $25 (366p) ISBN 978-0-688-09883-4
Operation Torch, the 1942 Allied invasion of North Africa, was the first major Allied offensive of WW II. Gen. Eisenhower, the overall commander, had grave misgivings about the undertaking, fearing the resistance of Vichy French troops ashore to the Anglo-American landings. As things transpired, the Vichy navy nearly ruined the U.S. landings near Casablanca, but the French capitulated within a week. The victorious Allies then turned eastward to try conclusions with Gen. Erwin Rommel and his formidable Afrika Korps in Tunisia. Gelb ( Dunkirk ) has much of interest to say about the thorny interplay between the British and American high commands and the even more difficult relations between Eisenhower and the French leaders (whom he privately called ``little, selfish conceited worms''). The GIs in the field failed to win much glory in the North African campaign (one British general dismissed them as ``merely a nuisance''), but, as Gelb points out, it was a superb training ground for the subsequent invasion of Sicily. A well-balanced look at one of the most important but often ignored campaigns of WW II. Photos. First serial to Quarterly Journal of Military History. (July)
Reviewed on: 06/29/1992
Release date: 07/01/1992
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