El Alamein (Book) Review

by Paul Bingley
El Alamein

Released: 20th June 2012
RRP: £18.99
Publisher: Osprey Publishing
Author: Bryn Hammond
Type: Hardback
ISBN: 9781849086400
Pages: 344

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Of the glut of authors who have written about the ‘war without hate’, Bryn Hammond is perhaps the most qualified to tell its story. A member of the British Commission for Military History and a worker at the Imperial War Museum in London, he’s used the vast amount of material at his disposal to create the excellent El Alamein: The Battle that Turned the Tide of the Second World War.

Books on Alamein clearly arrive at the same conclusion: a seemingly defeated British army turns near-defeat into victory. But Hammond’s effort also dispels certain myths surrounding its key players. Field Marshall Erwin Rommel, for instance, isn’t the genius he’s so often made out to be. Even Winston Churchill’s initial understanding is shown to have been somewhat ill-informed. But Hammond backs this up with firsthand accounts that truly resonate.

That’s what makes this work a real page-turner. Not only is the reader presented with the true facts and figures of a 40-day campaign, its pages are sprinkled with the testimonies of those who planned, directed and fought the battles from either side. People like Gunner James Brooks, who pointed out: “I think I’ve done more than my share in this war and it’s about time somebody took my place.” Well that place is a page in the definitive history book, El Alamein.

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