I really enjoyed Monty and Rommel: Parallel Lives by Peter Caddick-Adams. What I appreciated most was how he told their stories in parallel.
We are introduced to both of them in their youth, leading up to their First World War. Interestingly, there was not much from their first military experience to predict their later success. Monty tripped on his scabbard and Rommel passed out.
Between the wars, the nature of the German and British armies were uncertain. Both were able to find their way in chaotic times.
Rommel early on gained the confidence of Hitler. This was a double-edged sword as it helped Rommel rise quickly up the ranks but it also made him a lot of enemies.
Montgomery had a lot of talent but lacked personal skills. His soldiers liked him but his peers found him unbearable. The author shares letters and diary records that show the strained relationships.
Monty and Rommel are best known for their conflict in North Africa but their Second World War experience went beyond that. Rommel was in charge of the German defence in Normandy and Montgomery held a leadership position in the D-Day invasion.
Sadly, Rommel didn’t survive the end of the war. He didn’t die in battle. Rather as he was recovering from injuries from an Allied plane, he was believed to be connected with a plot to assassinate Hitler. He was likely uninvolved (although perhaps aware of) the plot. He was pressured into committing suicide to save his family.
Montgomery survived the war but his reputation suffered over the years. It may be that Rommel’s reputation has come out on top.
I really enjoyed Monty and Rommel. I loved the back and forth between their stories. The author nicely compares and contrasts the generals. It is definitely worth reading for anyone interested in the Second World War.