21.12.06

QUAGMIRE. Sandstorms threaten the health and safety of the troops, tanks bog down in the desert during the rainy season, Arabs are indifferent to the passage of U.S. and British soldiers, although some may sell information to them today, only to sell information to the enemy tomorrow, the French raise diplomatic objections when they're not actually interfering with the movement of troops, and Members of Congress are urging the President to cut his losses, bring the troops home, and regroup.

The President is Franklin D. Roosevelt, the enemy is German, abetted or impeded -- it's sometimes hard to tell -- by Italians, and the Arabs live along the Mediterranean coast of Africa. But I have to wonder if Jeff Shaara's The Rising Tide isn't a cautionary tale for our time, and if he isn't cautioning the cautious about the dangers of being cautious. Never mind that. I'll keep Book Review No. 46 relatively short and commend the book as a quick, historically accurate read. (And we know the outcome: the President and the commanders stayed the course.) Mr Shaara gives us two fictional troopers, a tanker and a paratrooper, and three very real commanders, Eisenhower, Patton, and Rommel. The plot: Rommel chases Montgomery east. Montgomery regroups, assisted by German logistical failures (fatso Hermann and his delusions about aerial logistics: what would he make of our C-17) he chases Rommel west. A coalition force invades northwestern Africa. Rommel gets his licks in but the logistical failures get worse. If you're familiar with Patton, the book mirrors the first half of the movie, from Morocco to the slapping incident in Sicily. There are to be more novels in this series.

Betsy's Page links to Third Wave Dave's tribute to General Patton, who died on this day in 1945.

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