Desert War Trilogy III – The End in Africa — Alan Moorehead

This book completes the Folio Society trilogy by Alan Moorehead, a war correspondent with the Allied forces in World War II in the North African campaign.  This volume deals mostly with the Tunisian campaign, although there is an interesting detour trip around Africa to the US and then back to England and on a convoy to join up with the armies in Algeria after Torch.

In terms of historical narrative of the war, this volume is the most complete in its coverage of the main theatre.  In the others he tended to get sent off to other hot spots during lulls and miss some or all of the action, but here he more or less stayed put and followed the action.  You get a good observers view of the campaign that ended with the surrender of around 250,000 Axis troops but somehow gets glossed over in favor of ‘El Alamein, Kassarine and then they gave up’ descriptions.  This makes the fact that Moorehead does his most complete job of a campaign write-up since the 1940 O’Connor offensive especially pleasing.

But it isn’t all about the big picture – there are plenty of day-to-day stories of the men on a dumpy little destroyer convoying supplies, of the civilians in the rear areas and between the lines and how they react, and the troops, both the Commonwealth and US that do the dirty work.  There’s even a little insight into the troops they fight against.

In all, while this isn’t a blow-by-blow of the entire war in Africa, it does give depth to those histories, while also shedding a lot of light on campaigns that are often glossed over – Abyssinia, the Syrian campaign, O’Connor’s Offensive, and the end in Tunisia.

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