book review: desert war

Alan Moorehead was a British war correspondent during the North Africa campaign in World War II. Desert War is his trilogy of books about the campaign, covering 1940-1943. He wasn’t present for every key battle, but he tells a lot of great stories of what it was like to be on those lines out in the desert, and in the hills of Tunisia, and the hardships the soldiers endured and all of that kind of stuff. I was amazed at how it worked, that the reporters could just get into a jeep and travel up to the front and back and hang out with soldiers and go to meetings with generals and all that. It’s kind of a romantic proposition. Of course he talks up their bravery and the honourability of their opponents. There isn’t anything about the politics behind the war, just reporting of how it went on. And he describes the desert war as a clean one. That there weren’t bystanders in the way to get killed; it was just soldiers and their equipment and loads of rocks. It’s all kind of alluring. North Africa is somewhere I should head some day.

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