I had certain expectations when I approached Killing Rommel by Steven Pressfield. When you see a title like Killing Rommel and a write-up like the following you have a fair expectation of what you are going to see:
Autumn,1942: Hitler's legions have swept across Europe. Soviet Russia reels under the German onslaught while across the channel, Britain struggles on. And in North Africa, Field Marshall Erwin Rommel and his Afrika Korps have routed the 8th Army, threatening the oil fields of the Middle East. The war hangs in the balance...Out of this, the British hatch a desperate plan - to send a small, heavily armed yet highly mobile force behind enemy lines to strike a blow that will stop Rommel's army in its tracks. It is to be called the Long Range Desert Group and its exploits will become the stuff of legend. Based on real events, Steven Pressfield's bold new novel brings to pulse-racing life the ingenuity and daring of this maverick commando unit - a disparate, dedicated 'band of brothers' who sacrificed so much for the sake of freedom...
Now I hate to say it, being one myself but I think the Marketing department have got their hands on this book description and may have got a little carried away. We in the Osprey marketing department have never done this, of course - no prizes for the person who sends in our most blatant over-hyping by-the-way.
So what is Killing Rommel really like? Well for a start it is pretty damn good, decent maps at the start of a book always give me a good feeling about the rest of it and this has them. It is the fictional war-time memoir of Richmond 'Chap' Chapman a young lieutenant following him from his university days in Oxford, basic training with the Royal Tank Regiment and eventual secondment to the Long Range Desert Group and action in the deserts of North Africa.
The narrator is restrained, educated and abhors some of the savagery required of him in combat. This takes a little getting used to if you are expecting a 'pulse-racing' read throughout but has the ring of truth. He is not a warrior raised from birth but an ordinary Englishman thrust into a conflict which seems to consist of journeying incredible distances in terrible conditions, with trucks breaking down, fuel running out and incredible weather conditions. He takes part in several actions where confusion reigns and the outcome is inconclusive at best. Coupled with the fact that Steven Pressfield has obviously done his research into the actual characters, conditions and equipment used this gives it a sense of historical accuracy and a depth that the back cover copy does not convey.
So don't be fooled by the cover, it is some of these things but it is a whole lot more. Well worth a read and if you want the perfect Osprey book to accompany it I recommend Desert Raiders: Axis & Allied Special Forces 1940-43.