- Tapa blanda: 376 páginas
- Editor: Cooper Square Publishers Inc.,U.S.; Edición: New edition (1 de junio de 2000)
- Idioma: Inglés
- ISBN-10: 0815410557
- ISBN-13: 978-0815410553
- Valoración media de los clientes: Sé el primero en opinar sobre este producto
Triumphant Fox: Erwin Rommel and the Rise of the Afrika Korps (Inglés) Tapa blanda – 1 jun 2000
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Triumphant Fox traces Erwim Rommel's rise from obscurity to the vaunted position of Hitler's most able general.
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This is my second work that I've read by Mitcham. His work on the Sicily campaign was pretty good, but I often had the suspicion as I was reading that that he dances on the line of a romanticizing the Germans. Here it was a little more evident, and in many ways is a product of its time (1984).
Rommel tends to be one of those figures for such writers, like the Robert E. Lee or Stonewall Jackson of the Third Reich. Yes, he may have fought well, and yes, he became an anti-Nazi and was murdered by the regime he served so well. In this kind of narrative, he seems at once brilliant, conflicted, ultimately human and most "like us."
Mitcham's account certainly follows this vein. The first 60 pages of the 190 or so of narrative describe Rommel's career leading up to his arrival in Tripoli -- a career that included a stint leading Hitler's bodyguard unit, a connection that Rommel used to secure a field command. Meanwhile, here we learn that Goebbels gave his old friend Rommel a camera.
The soldiers of the DAK, for their part, are portrayed as mini-Rommels. Like those Rommel left behind on the Egyptian frontier, whom Mitcham describes as "the best of the German infantry: proud, tough, resourceful, and self-reliant." Everything we'd expect of good soldiers doing a very good job.
That all may be, but something seems to be missing in this account in spite of the repetition. Among the several second-hand sources used, Mitcham's first citation is from Paul Carell, who is now regarded as a somewhat dubious source. As a first-hand (but hardly objective) participant, Rommel's own papers are also frequently cited, without question.
The crucial moment in the campaign came in November 1941, when the British launched Operation Crusader. Rommel's Italian and German soldiers besieged Tobruk, and the British sought to relieve it. Mitcham, to his credit, quite forthrightly and accurately says that, "Of all of Rommel's battles, this is the most complicated and most difficult to describe."
In Mitcham's view, Rommel's mistake is that he stubbornly refused to believe that British would attack him before he had a chance to finish off Tobruk (not his first try, either). Frankly, he seems to have lost control of the battle, as his units were all over the place, and even Rommel himself was difficult to locate. At one point, he was believed lost, and his staff countermanded his own orders. What a mess. Ultimately, he retreated all the way back to Mersa el Brega. But even that, according to Mitcham, was a dazzling success: "The new commander of the 90th Light Division was puzzled over the success of the withdrawal... 'There is only one explanation: their awe of General Rommel, and his capacity to surprise... ."
Was Rommel a brilliant general that made mistakes, or something else? Rommel's defeat isn't adequately explained here, nor by many other writers for that matter. It may be said that it was Rommel's battle to lose; that's often the impression, and Mitcham's account echoes that. In the end, Mitcham's view is that 1941 only made the DAK a better weapon in 1942. That they lost at El Alamein -- how many times? -- seems to undercut that.
Another view may be that Rommel was somewhat out of his depth, more suited as a division commander, and lacked the staff training to understand supply and other factors for success at this scale. His Pour le Merite against Italians in one war made him a dubious choice to lead Italians in the next one, and his constant rows with superiors over supplies and strategic goals seems to underscore that he wasn't suited to higher command. This or similar lines of thinking goes un-investigated by Mitcham. How could Rommel be "triumphant" and still lose?
All in all, this was a so-so summer read, with adequate maps that helped follow events well enough. Mitcham, consistent with his work on the Sicily campaign, is pretty fair to the Italians' plight: let down by poor equipment and training, they were in no state to fight well against a more modern army. Yet, despite some glimmers of promise, Mitcham's work on balance now feels dated, fostering myths about the war and a "Good German" Cold War narrative.