Monty and Rommel: Parallel Lives

Monty and Rommel: Parallel Lives

by Peter Caddick-Adams
     
 

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Two men came to personify Allied and German generalship in the Second World War: Bernard Montgomery and Erwin Rommel.

They fought a series of extraordinary battles across several theaters of war that established them as two of the greatest generals of their age. Born four years apart, their lives were remarkably similar—from their shared provincial

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Overview

Two men came to personify Allied and German generalship in the Second World War: Bernard Montgomery and Erwin Rommel.

They fought a series of extraordinary battles across several theaters of war that established them as two of the greatest generals of their age. Born four years apart, their lives were remarkably similar—from their shared provincial upbringings to each nearly dying in but emerging from the first World War with glowing war records. They would begin to fight each other as divisional commanders in 1940 and as they came to prominence, first in North Africa, then at the Normandy D-Day allied invasion. Caddick-Adams tracks and compares their military talents and personalities in battle. Monty and Rommel explores how each general was raised to power by their war leaders, Churchill and Hitler, and how the innovative military strategy and thought of both permeate down to today's armies.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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.)
The Daily Beast

"Peter Caddick-Adams's book brilliantly captures the lives and the personalities of these two extraordinary men. In short, Monty and Rommel is not only a first-class work of military history, but one of those books that makes you stop and think, and connect the dots from the past to the present. The author is masterful at bringing alive these two very different (and very difficult) personalities, and has scads of good stories about them . . . Never mind, this is a terrific book, and well worth reading carefully. Unlike most military history it has a certain novelistic depth, and its two major characters are unfailingly interesting."

From the Publisher
"Two consummate military men who led their respective countries to victories receive the full-on character treatment by a British military historian. An accessible, well-honed study of two fascinating characters." — Kirkus Reviews

"Bernard Law Montgomery and Erwin Rommel are ideal subjects for a comparative military biography. 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." — Publishers Weekly

"Behind-the-scenes descriptions that place the reader directly in the action of World War II, the character analysis, and the biographical context are sure to satisfy all curious readers in military biography or World War II history." — Library Journal

"Peter Caddick-Adams's book brilliantly captures the lives and the personalities of these two extraordinary men. In short, Monty and Rommel is not only a first-class work of military history, but one of those books that makes you stop and think, and connect the dots from the past to the present. The author is masterful at bringing alive these two very different (and very difficult) personalities, and has scads of good stories about them . . . Never mind, this is a terrific book, and well worth reading carefully. Unlike most military history it has a certain novelistic depth, and its two major characters are unfailingly interesting." — The Daily Beast

"[A] highly engaging which is stronger on war storytelling than on political analysis, but perhaps wiser than its subjects in recognizing that." — New Yorker

Kirkus Reviews
Two consummate military men who led their respective countries to victories receive the full-on character treatment by a British military historian. While heavy with military detail, Caddick-Adams' dual biography manages to move fluidly between the events in the two great generals' lives. Bernard Montgomery (1887–1976) and Erwin Rommel (1891–1944) both hailed from middle-class, nonmilitary families; received their "baptism by fire" during battle in World War I and were wounded; wrote tactical textbooks; and were instrumental in their respective countries' battles during World War II in North Africa and Normandy. Though they never met, they shared a similar oppositional temperament in regards to their superiors. Both leaders were happiest on the front line. Rommel only lasted a year (1918) at the General Staff Corps, unlike most of Hitler's later marshals, preferring to teach during the interwar years, and publishing his influential Infantry Attacks, in 1937. Montgomery trained fledging divisions in the Territorial Army, including six years in India. Rommel was put in charge of Hitler's military escort in 1936, then a panzer division in the blitz of France in 1940. Though he had no armored experience, he was spectacularly successful, and again in North Africa. The Normandy invasion caught Rommel "tending his wife's roses in the garden at Herrlingen," while Montgomery led as the highly effective Allied land-force commander. Caddick-Adams emphasizes Rommel's ethical behavior as a war commander, urging Hitler repeatedly to cede a "political situation" in the face of Armageddon, with fatal consequences to his own life. The author considers at length the postwar mythmaking regarding both generals. An accessible, well-honed study of two fascinating characters.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781468300895
Publisher:
The Overlook Press
Publication date:
02/16/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
480
Sales rank:
510,470
File size:
7 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Peter Caddick-Adams has been a professional military historian for over twenty years and also served for thirty years in the British Army. He was twice deployed on operations as the UK's official historian in Bosnia and Iraq.

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