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Those of a certain age will appreciate that to call this book a sort of high end episode of The Rat Patrol is very much meant as a compliment. Indeed, that classic, though tragically short-lived series, featured at least one episode where the desert rats capture General Erwin Rommel and prey on his sense of honor to escape from behind German lines. In Mr. Pressfield's first novel of modern war, a young British officer, R. Lawrence "Chap" Chapman, joins the Long Range Desert Group and is sent on a mission to kill the General as fighting rages in North Africa.

As always, Mr. Pressfield is as much concerned with the daily grind of military life and the ethics of warfare as with the adventuresome aspects. Before getting to the desert he recounts Chap's career at Oxford--including his friendship with a charismatic budding novelist Zachary Stein and his courtship of his best friend's little sister, a romance unpopular with her family. They all end up in Africa and the story really takes off as the desert practically becomes a character in the novel, the author capturing the grueling difficulty of navigating the sands and keeping heavy machinery operating in such an environment. Besides Rommel himself, Mr. Pressfield works in other historical players, like "Paddy" Mayne, a rugged rugby player who became one of the most decorated soldiers of WII and whose exploits only seem fictional.

It all adds up to a terrific read. Besides the Rat Patrol it summons memories of everything from Lawrence of Arabia to Rogue Male to The Eagle Has Landed, but the story is very much Mr. Pressfield's own and cements his place as one of the greats of military fiction.


Grade: (A+)


See also:

Steven Pressfield (6 books reviewed)
Historical Fiction
Steven Pressfield Links:

    -AUTHOR SITE: Steven Pressfield
    -FILMOGRAPHY: Steven Pressfield (IMDB)
    -BOOK SITE: Killing Rommel
    -BOOK SITE: Killing Rommel (Random House)
    -VIDEO: Mini Documentary on Killing Rommel (YouTube)
    -ARTICLE: Bruckheimer Adapting Pressfield’s Killing Rommel (BeyondHollywood, 9/03/08)
    -AUDIO INTERVIEW: Steven Pressfield (Hugh Hewitt Show)
    -PODCAST: Steven Pressfield on the Artist as Warrior: In Conversation with Mitzi Rapkin on the First Draft Podcast (First Draft: A Dialogue on Writing , July 12, 2021, LitHub)
    -BOOK SITE: The Afghan Campaign (
    -BOOK SITE: The Afghan Campaign (Random House)
    -ESSAY: Tribalism is the real enemy in Iraq (STEVEN PRESSFIELD, 6/18/06, Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
    -ESSAY: Why We Will Never See Democracy in the Middle East (Steven Pressfield, September 11, 2006, ABC News)
    -ESSAY: Theme and Character in the Historical Novel (STEVEN PRESSFIELD, Historical Novel Society)
    -INTERVIEW: The art of the art of war (Steven Martinovich, November 15, 2004, Enter Stage Right)
    -INTERVIEW: Gates Of Fire: Richard Lee talks to Steven Pressfield about his new novel (Historical Novel Society)
    -ARCHIVES: "steven pressfield" (Find Articles)
    -REVIEW: of Killing Rommel by Steven Pressfield (Ray Palen, Bookreporter)
    -REVIEW: of Killing Rommel (Tony Perry, LA Times)
    -REVIEW: of Killing Rommel (Patrick Anderson, Washington Post)
    -REVIEW: of Killing Rommel (Steven D. Laib, Intellectual Conservative)
    -REVIEW: of Killing Rommel (Chet Edwards, Defense and National Interest)
    -REVIEW: of Killing Rommel (Paul Katx, Entertainment Weekly)
    -REVIEW: of Killing Rommel (Steve Terjeson, Ezine)
    -REVIEW: of Killng Rommel (Norm Goldman, American Chronicle)
    -REVIEW: of Killing Rommel (Andrew Lubin, Military Writers)
    -REVIEW: of Killing Rommel (Armchair General)
    -REVIEW: of Killing Rommel (Jocelyn McClurg, USA Today)
    -REVIEW: of Killing Rommel (Mary Ann Smyth, Book Loons)
    -REVIEW: of Killing Rommel (Jeff Valentine, Bella)
    -REVIEW: of Killing Rommel (John Boyd, Kliat)
    -REVIEW: of Kiliing Rommel (Michael Lee, Bookpage)
    -REVIEW: of The Afghan War ( Lisa Ann Verge, Historical Novel Society)
    -REVIEW: of The Afghan Campaign (Scott Oden)
    -REVIEW: of The Afghan Campaign ( N.S. Gill,
    -REVIEW: of The Afghan Campaign (Critical Review)
    -REVIEW: of The Afghan Campaign (Chet Richards, Defense and the National Interest)
    -REVIEW: of The Virtues of War: A Novel of Alexander the Great Steven Pressfield (Steven Martinovich, Enter Stage Right)
    -REVIEW: of The Virtues of War (Helen South,
    -REVIEW: of The Virtues of War(Chet Richards, Defense and the National Interes)
    -REVIEW ESSAY: Great expectations: Four new biographies suggest that the more we write about Alexander the Great, the less we understand him (Rory Stewart, January 8, 2005, The Guardian)

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