16 July 2015

Book Review: Fox at the Front

This book follows on from its predecessor Fox on the Rhine (see here) so closely that I consider it Part 2 of the story as opposed to a sequel.  In fact the opening sequences are a retelling of the last section of the first book but from a different character's perspective and the narrative flows smoothly on from there.

Warning: Spoilers ahead...

Rommel's command of the Bulge Offensive in Dec 44 saw it drive far deeper than was historically the case, but ultimately its failed its objectives and significant forces were cut off and captured.  Rommel's recognises that this truly was the last roll of the dice for Germany and therefore surrenders his entire Army Group to the Allies rather than see his country ground to dust.  This does not sit well with some of the SS units under his Command...

In consultation with Patton and Eisenhower, Patton opens a corridor to assist the Allies race to the Rhine in the hope that they can get to Berlin before the Russians resume hostilities.  Again, some elements of his former command and other parts of the Wehrmacht aren't keen on that plan.  With US assistance, a German Republic in exile is established with Rommel as its military head and defend it from forces loyal to the Third Reich (though loyalty is not always voluntary due to the increased security measures Fuhrer Himmler introduces)

With the Rhine breached, Patton drives quickly on Berlin, as the Russians smash through the German defensive line in the East.  Facing only town resistance from fanatics, Patton marginally beats the Russians there there, is reinforced by the 1st Airborne Army (with the cancellation of OP Market Garden this had remained intact) and the Third Reich falls.  Stalin is not amused, however, and his forces isolate Berlin and keep pushing on into Germany, swallowing as much as they can.  A Cold War esque standoff develops and to support Patton's isolated forces and their Republic of Germany friends, the Western Allies commence the Berlin airlift operation.

Months drag on and Stalin starts to loose patience while the Allies scramble frantically to complete the Manhattan Project.  As the Russians begin an offensive to crush the Berlin, the desperate Allies deploy the untested Trinity device...

An interesting book which I enjoyed but which retains its deeply US centric perspective.  It includes all sorts of side stories about Himmler, discovering the Nazi concentration camps, and the grunt's eye view from the trenches using the characters of the fictional US 19th Armoured Division which were central to the first book.  Overall, an enjoyable read but not quite a good as its predecessor.  I give it 3 and a half stars.


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