Alamein / Edition 1

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In this compelling account of the decisive World War II battle of El Alamein, Jon Latimer brings to life the harsh desert conflict in North Africa. In October 1942, after a two-year seesaw campaign across the wasteland of western Egypt and eastern Libya, the British Eighth Army not only achieved a significant military victory over the combined German-Italian Panzer Army but also provided an enormous psychological boost for the Allies.

This is the story of two of the most intriguing commanders of the war. Latimer offers remarkably balanced portraits of Bernard Law Montgomery, whose real achievement was overshadowed by his prickly ego, and Erwin Rommel, whose tactical brilliance could not overcome his disdain for the administrative side of war. Alamein, Latimer notes, was a victory for modern armaments, with concentrated artillery used on a scale not seen since 1918. Equally important were the critical contributions of naval and air forces in cutting off the German supply lines and supporting the ground troops, roles largely overlooked in standard accounts.

But Alamein is at heart the story of the infantry soldiers who fought in a scorched wilderness. Often using their own words, Latimer vividly describes the experiences of the gunners, sappers, cavalrymen, and airmen--Britons, Canadians, Australians, Indians, Germans, Italians, and others--who struggled in the heat, sand, and dust of this brutal environment.

With their success at El Alamein, the British forces would drive Rommel's army into Tunisia--and ultimate destruction in the North African Campaign of 1943.

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Editorial Reviews

Los Angeles Times

Jon Latimer's Alamein is the work of a former British Army officer, a meticulous military history inclusive of accurate and often hitherto unknown details. It is a classic, near-encyclopedic reconstruction.
— John Lukas

Foreign Affairs

Latimer meticulously describes how, after a couple of dispiriting years of desert warfare, British and Commonwealth forces achieved in October 1942 the victory they craved over German and Italian forces at El Alamein in Egypt.
— Lawrence D. Freedman

Los Angeles Times - John Lukas
Jon Latimer's Alamein is the work of a former British Army officer, a meticulous military history inclusive of accurate and often hitherto unknown details. It is a classic, near-encyclopedic reconstruction.
Foreign Affairs - Lawrence D. Freedman
Latimer meticulously describes how, after a couple of dispiriting years of desert warfare, British and Commonwealth forces achieved in October 1942 the victory they craved over German and Italian forces at El Alamein in Egypt.
Publishers Weekly
An exhaustively researched and comprehensive academic book, Latimer's excellent account may be too finely focused for nonspecialists, yet the inclusion of veterans' recollections and memoirs will grab the interest of generalists looking for something more than simple war stories. Latimer's critical but balanced view of Rommel, British general Montgomery and others is welcome; the inclusion of their opinions of, and dealings with, each other are in keeping with the best professional military history. A former officer in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, Latimer (Deception in War) examines the tactics used by both sides in detail, something that will appeal greatly to military historians. All aspects of the battle are covered: the effect of Operation Ultra (Allied intercepts of encrypted Axis signals) and other intelligence on Allied strategy and the conduct of the battle; operations designed to deceive the Axis about details of the coming attack; accounts of small unit actions within the battle-all well presented in a carefully crafted and exciting style. Also included are 16 halftones, 14 maps and a 20-page order of battle for the forces engaged on both sides. Painstaking yet gripping, this should be the definitive account of the battle itself for years to come. (Nov.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Alamein represented a turning point for the Allies during World War II. The battle was particularly significant to the British as the first and last victory of the war without significant U.S. involvement. Bierman and Smith, authors of Fire in the Night, provide a broad overview of the events leading up to the Battle of Alamein and a detailed description of the battle, the final victory of the Allies in Northern Africa. As journalists they bring the story to life using numerous interviews and personal accounts. The maps are easy to understand, and the photos provide a visual reference to the players, terrain, and events. Unfortunately, several chapters on raids, the battle for Malta, etc., interrupt the flow of the book while failing to provide sufficient explanation of their importance to the main event, Alamein. Recommended to libraries with large military collections. After a brief introduction to the war in North Africa, Latimer, a former British officer and author of Deception in War, focuses on the battle of Alamein proper. His extensive research is evident both in the book's organization and in the endnotes. Latimer explains why logistics were so important to both sides and weaves the battle for Malta and the Mediterranean into the story. He even provides the requisite Clausewitz quote. The maps are easy to understand and use military unit symbols. This well-written and -organized book is highly recommended for larger public, academic, and military libraries. (Photos not seen.)-Lt. Col. Charles M. Minyard (ret.), U.S. Army, Mt. Pleasant, MI Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674013766
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 3/30/2004
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 452
  • Sales rank: 1,176,535
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Meet the Author

Jon Latimer lectured at the University of Wales, Swansea and served in the Territorial Army. He is the author of 1812: War with America and Alamein (both from Harvard).
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations




Part I: An Obscure Railway Halt

1. Colonial Rivals

2. Enter Rommel

3. The Fall of Tobruk

4. The Alamein Line

5. Malta

6. Enter Monty

7. Alam Halfa

8. Lightfoot

9. In the Line

10. Final Preparations

Part II: The Battle

11. Barrage

12. The Assault

13. The Armour Stalls

14. Crisis Conference

15. Crumbling

16. The Defence of Outpost Snipe

17. Thompson's Post

18. Supercharge

19. The Beginning of the End

20. The End of the Beginning

Appendix: Orders of Battle, 23 October 1942




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