Steven Pressfield is a consummate researcher and storyteller able to transport you wherever and whenever he decides to go. Whether it’s Ancient Greece as in Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae and Tides of War, or the gritty future of world war craft in The Profession, or the mystical redemptive realms of The Legend of Bagger Vance, Pressfield’s novels enchant, captivate and linger.
In his historical novel, Killing Rommel, the reader is swept into the searing deserts of North Africa during WWII where the first contingent of British Commandos, the Long Range Desert Group (LRDG) is assigned to hunt down and put down the infamous “Desert Fox”, Field Marshall Erwin Rommel. No easy task there, he didn’t gain his reputation by being an easy target.
The enemy forces are but one aspect of what these dauntless blokes have to face. The desert elements are as fierce and deadly as any human force. One wrong turn, a missed way-point, or an overlooked engine repair could mean disaster. Pressfield, as usual, does a stellar job of character development and evoking the esprit de corps the men come to share under impossible conditions.
No spoilers here, but there are some very unusual turns in the story that will give the reader pause to consider what they had always thought about the war… any war really.
Pressfield thematically invokes and portrays the notion of a ‘Warrior Code, best explained in another of his books entitled The Warrior Ethos. You’ll see how seamlessly he weaves this theme into his characters as they pit themselves against the elements and each other.
Full disclosure–it’s pretty much a guy’s book. I couldn’t hook my wife or daughter into picking it up. But my highly dyslexic son devoured it in two days when he was 16; remarkable because this was the first time he had ever sat to read for two days straight; a feat of fascination for any dyslexic to attempt. There is a bit of romance and love interest, but the real story is out there in the Sahara.
Altogether, Killing Rommel is a great read (or listen). One measure of reading pleasure I often apply is to consider the question, “Would this make an outstanding film?” I should say yes, indeed it would! But by all means, read the book first!