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This is perhaps the most revealing case history of the politics of modern warfare ever set down. It is a story of a time when image making and public relations took precedence over strategy at the cost of thousands of lives. It is the story of the distortion of history and the promulgation of questionable glory.
By August 1942, disaster had struck Great Britain in every theater of war, Singapore had fallen; Crete was gone; the Egyptians were hammering at Egypt. The British Navy and Air Force were being repulsed, and Churchill wrote: “I should have then vanished from the scene and the harvest would have been ascribed to my belated disappearance.” The shadow of becoming a second class power was already falling on Britain, and Churchill and his generals were about to be eclipsed by Roosevelt and the strength of America. Churchill was desperate for victory and a glamorous hero.
General Auchinleck, commander of Britain’s Eighth Army, had already fought a successful battle at El Alamein. But Churchill needed something more theatrically effective than what Auchinleck could provide. SO he set the propaganda machinery working to obliterate that victory. Auchinleck was sacked and replaced by Montgomery.
Although Rommel was by this time a very sick man with a weakened army, the myth of the Desert Fox was revived as well. And the second Battle of El Alamein, the one recorded in the history books, was launched. Every man played his part well, including the public relations staff, General Montgomery’s personal photographers, the moving picture teams, and those who fell in battle.
This is a fascinating book, not just for buffs of military history, but for anyone concerned with how a war is really run in an age of propaganda.