77 years ago: El Alamein 1942 (3). Books to read

14 books to read about EL ALAMEIN

Many books had been written about this important battle, whose battlefield I saw few years ago.


The book of Niall Barr is full of details, well written and very pleasant to read. Battle conditions, most notably those less well-known of june-july 1942 are exciting; lots of interesting details about the three battles of the battle. This book is a reference. One of its point of interest is the fact that it isn’t an hagiography of Montgomery. The tribute Auchinleck deserved is well explained.



About 1st Alamein :

Bates,a witness, deals with the first battle. As with Niall Barr, the reader has a lot of details and a study of the strategic situation in june-july 1942.

About Alam Halfa :


This book is pro-Monty but very interesting for the général picture and planification before Alam Halfa, with a comparison between Auchinleck and Montgomery about those plans.

About the 2nd Alamein :

Written by C.E. Lucas Phillips, it’s a complete and very interestbig account made by a vétéran of the battle. Lots of détails, most notable concering the préparation of the coming offensive and how to deal with minefield.





Two books in french: Yves Buffetaut (Histoire & Collections), 160 pages;François de Lannoy (Heimdal),  160 pages.

The two books are very well illustrated, with maps, but without new information for people reading in english. First Alamein is well explained with details only in Buffetaut’s book, which is the best of the two.

Readers have also my book : Afrikakorps. L’armée de Rommel, with a lot of strategic considerations and also a presentation of the defense of Egypt in july 1942 and the consequences of a Axis invasion for the Allies, Egypt and the Middle-East.




Relatively short (but 240 pages). Some figures are debatable: Jacobs writes 500 000 Italian soldiers in Libya in june 1940 and only 278 British tanks destroyed during  « Crusader »… But a desert war enthusiast has to read it because to the subjects covered:

-The War in North Africa, 1940-43:an overview of the role ot the Union of South Africa par James Jacobs
-Training the troops: the Indian army in Egypt, Eritrea and Libya, 1940-42 par Alan Jeffreys
-The part we played in this show, Australians and El Alamein par Peter Stalney
-Non Model Campaign: the Second New Zealand Division and the battle of El Alamein, october-December 1942 par Glyn Harper
-The Free French in the Battle for North Africa, 1942:Military Action and its political presentation par Rémy Porte
-Between History and Geography: the El Alamein Project:Research, Findings, and Results par Aldino Bondesan
-Silent Service: The Royal Navy and the Desert Victory par Nick Hewitt
-Feeding the Fortress: Malta, Summer 1942 par Thomas Scheben
-The Highest Rule:Rommel as Military Genius par Antulio J. Echevarria II
-High Command in the Desert par Niall Barr
-Alexandrians Tell their Story: Oral narratives of the War in North Africa 1940-43 par Mohamed Awad and Sabar Hamouda
-The Battle of El Alamein: Impressions of a young Schoolboy in Alexandria par Harry Tzalas



The Phantom Army of El Alamein : nice book of Rick Stroud about deception and operation « Bertram ».

El Alamein : Great Battles,  Simon Ball : this book is a nice surprise. It deals about posterity and legend since 1942 (See also TheMontgomery Legend  R.W. Thompson), but it also deals with tactics and strategy. Most interest big are the chapters about newspapers, books and cinema.


Combat and Morale in the North African Campaign. The Eighth Army and the Path to El Alamein of Jonathan Fennel. Well done, but perhaps too much emphasis on moral and the importance of Montgomery in this area: other generals also know how to stimulante the fighting spirit of their soldiers.  Morehover the state of the moral of the 8th Army before the coming of Monty is debatable.



Forgotten Voices : Desert Victory of J. Thompson and El Alamein. The Story of the Battle in the Words of the Soldiers s of J. Sadler give add-ons with testimonials.


The Men Behind Monty by Richard Mead. Cery nice account wigh explains the operating method of a staff, the HQ of Montgomery (and of Auchinleck, as a comparison). It’s a good opportunity to discover unrecognized characters and officers of the staff of the famous and glorious 8th Army.







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