Present day. We’re offered a found document, the wartime reminiscences of Richmond “Chap” Chapman, a publisher-to-be who volunteers and serves as a reconnaissance officer for the Long Range Desert Group, scouting Northern Africa in preparation for desert warfare against Rommel’s Afrika Korps. Chapman rises in command as his experience grows; then he’s given a specific mission objective – to find Rommel’s mobile HQ.
Killing Rommel is something of a throwback, a stiff-upper-lip study of courage under fire and in the privations of war. Where it succeeds is in both the amount of detail and research that author Pressfield brings to bear, and in the ability the author has, as previously explored several times in such classical world-set novels as The Afghan Campaign and Gates of Fire, in communicating the mix of boredom and terror, exhilaration and exhaustion, camaraderie and bloodlust that he sees as characterising warfare situations and the military mindset. The result is a compelling and almost entirely convincing novel that works both as an action-adventure and as a meditation on sacrifice, honour and loyalty.
Pressfield, Steven. 2009. Killing Rommel (London: Bantam), 411 pages, 978-0553819526