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Another timely re-print, this title should be considered as a companion to MAA 53, Rommel’s Desert Army, also reviewed on this site.
Much like MAA 53, this book contains text detailing the battles from 1940 until 1943, but from the British/Commonwealth (and later, Allied) point of view. It then follows with a detailed order-of-battle list for 8th Army at the onset of the final Battle for El Alamein. (For more details on this pivotal battle, I suggest that interested persons get hold of a copy of Osprey Campaign 158, “El Alamein 1942, The Turning of the Tide”, by Ken Ford, also reviewed on this site by myself as well as John Prigent). Uniquely, the text also offers a section entitled “War in the Desert”, where the author imparts an idea of the conditions encountered and how men adapted to them. In this theater, the fighting was considered a form of “pure” warfare, markedly devoid of civil death and destruction, and where “chivalry” among antagonists was often the rule, rather than the exception. The final section is entitled “Main Weapons” and should be considered to be quite basic. It covers individual weapons, anti-tank, anti-aircraft and field artillery and tanks.
The text is embellished by 36 well-chosen and informatively-captioned B&W photos and one map. There are several photos depicting tanks and artillery, but most are of men and their uniforms and equipment. The series’ signature, eight pages of color plates, contain a total of 24 separate individuals including Monty himself, plus British, Australian, South African, French and Indian troops, as well as a war correspondent. The illustrations are well-done and show a great variety of uniforms, insignia, weapons and equipment. The commentary for these plates is extremely detailed, running to over nine full pages.
First published in 1977, this third printing will be most welcome to students and modelers who have an interest in the activities of British 8th Army’s desert exploits.