New WW2 Book review

2015-10-22-ops in northAf-10942One of the things I do regularly these days (what with no TV and more time to read in bed and elsewhere) is review books. Yes, for Pen & Sword Publishing from the UK, but also books from other publishers. Lot of fun, and I try to pick books that I use for some of my other interests too (aviation, scale modeling, flight simulation, WW2 research, etc.).

Here’s another one I received a while ago…..

Operations in North Africa and The Middle East 1939 – 1942

Despatches from the Front
By John Grehan, Martin Mace

An interesting series, and an interesting book. But not one you’ll read without stopping, or one that makes for easy reading. And guys, where are the maps !!??

The book is made up of copies of the despatches by General Wavell and General Auchinleck to the then Secretary of State for War back in the UK. Reports of what happened and why. Wavell sent his on December 10th, 1940, June 21st, 1941 and September 5th, 1941. The much longer despatches by Auchinleck were sent March 8, 1942 and January 27th, 1943.

All of the reports were submitted many months after the actual operations took place and covering a lengthy period each. Written by the supreme commanders they provide an insight on what THEY saw as important, from their highest level in the field, and the issues they had to cope with.

The reports are very detailed and often provide long lists of units and their numbers and commanders…… and places, all names that mean nothing to many of us. We need MAPS !

Alright, I won’t bug you anymore with this. One of the nice things of the hobby of reading about history is grabbing a map and use it alongside the book you’re reading. I do that very often. However, in this case it is a bit more difficult, seeing the depth of reports and the multitude of operations and units involved.
To be brutally honest, I read the first two of Wavell’s despatches and skipped the third, then read part of Auchinleck first and second despatch….. but skipped some of the more boring parts, which I am sure were not boring at the time !

You will need patience to read this book, and in-depth knowledge of the African and Middle East campaigns will most certainly help a lot. Me, I am still digging into that area and will undoubtedly come back to the book after having read a few others on the subject.

Operations in North Africa and The Middle East 1939 – 1942
By John Grehan, Martin Mace
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 312
ISBN: 9781783462179
Published: 4th February 2015

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