I read “Drive to Nowhere” [Summer 2012], by the esteemed historian Robert Citino, with attention. It is a curious thing how fame polarizes so completely. In the study of military history, we historians dream of glory but dare not reach for it, so we criticize it. Many, many have stood on the field of battle, but so very, very few are remembered.
Professor Citino’s article reminded me that there are the applauders and the naysayers. I agree with Citino that it is time “to challenge the mythology”; let’s lift the fog of legend and tell the truth.
Many cannot accept brilliance if it is hooked to darkness. Rommel is well known for preventing the shooting of prisoners and challenging the führer in person upon learning of the Holocaust. Some cannot accept brilliance if it comes seemingly from nowhere. Rommel’s father was a provincial schoolmaster. Others cannot accept those who do not have a pedigree; the ones without a “Von” or a “Sir” cannot possibly succeed beyond themselves. Rommel was not a Prussian; he was a Swabian. He spoke with a funny accent. Then, there are those who envy attention from on high. Yes, he was Hitler’s favorite general, and for good reason. He came from near nothing but produced results. Those who do not know imagination, conviction, and self-confidence cannot allow it in others.
Even at the conclusion of the North African campaign, General Von Arnim withheld standing, available panzer forces at Kasserine Pass from his junior, commoner Rommel, who still won. To this day, American armored forces teach the lessons from “the master of mobile warfare,” as they call him. They carried his portrait in an armored personnel carrier during Desert Storm. Of course, the pattern of the North African campaign was to race across the desert with ever-lengthening supply lines, for both sides; that was the nature of the campaign. When Rommel was adequately supplied, just adequately (principally by the Italians struggling under the Ultra Code intercepts of the British), did he prevail? Once, twice, almost always.
He was even asked by the Valkyrie conspirators (Halder, Olbricht, Beck, Stauffenberg) of 1944 to be the interim head of the new Germany after Hitler’s planned assassination. He was the least tainted, most respected man in Germany, they said. Perhaps Rommel was a publicity hound; but how does that detract from his achievements? How could a man intuit the battlefield like Napoleon at Austerlitz, attacking while looking like withdrawing, or sense the moment for cavalry at the flank, like Alexander at the Granicus? At the Gazala-Tobruk action, Rommel punctured the line and then attacked backward. To quote Shakespeare’s Marc Antony: “When comes such another?”
B. Selby Haussermann
Just wanted to post a thank you for making MHQ available electronically. I had been forced to give up reading the magazine because my eyes could no longer handle the print size. Now I subscribe on my Kindle Fire, can adjust the font size to what my eyes can handle, and have it with me wherever I go. It is also clear you took the time to properly design your electronic version, which, regrettably, many publishers do not. I hope this means I will see more Weider publications available in an electronic format. Great job!
Editor’s note: In fact, World History Group plans to roll out several more titles in electronic formats in the year ahead.
Love the magazine, and do NOT want fiction in there. I subscribe to learn about military history—“real” military history. Although only a few pages, fiction does not belong in MHQ. Mark me down for a resounding NO!
I subscribe to MHQ to read nonfiction articles. I think the Fiction and Artists sections are misplaced in this kind of magazine. However, including reviews of nonfiction—and in special cases fiction—is a great idea.
I just read, from cover to cover, the Summer 2012 issue, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading (twice) the fiction excerpt, “German Money.” I felt as if I were walking alongside the spies of World War II in the dark and mysterious streets of Europe. What a wonderful writer Alan Furst is. I will look to purchase his novels Dark Voyage and The Spies of Warsaw. Yes, do please continue to publish fiction in your fine magazine.
Positively loved the new Fiction feature in MHQ excerpting newly published military historical fiction. In my opinion, it’s easily the best part of the magazine.
The political warfare/spy intro to Alan Furst’s book made my mouth water for more, both with regard to buying the book to see how the story continues as well as looking forward to the next issue of MHQ to see what will have been selected.
Great tinkering with the magazine’s design.
Shrivenham, Wiltshire, England
The caption of our Spring issue’s Battle Schemes department featuring a 1590 map of the Spanish Armada incorrectly refers to a stranded Spanish ship as a galley. It is a galleass (it has masts as well as oars), in fact, the flagship of the galleass squadron, the San Lorenzo.
To comment on an article, visit MHQmag.com or send an e-mail to MHQeditor@weiderhistory
group.com. Letters are edited for length and clarity.