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Knight's Cross: A Life of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  1,937 ratings  ·  49 reviews
“A vivid, balanced and frequently enthralling biography of Rommel, the general and the man. It is must reading for every aficionado of modern military history.” –San Francisco Chronicle

Erwin Rommel’s instinct for battle and leadership places him among the great commanders of history. In this definitive biography, David Fraser, an acclaimed biographer and distinguished
Paperback, 601 pages
Published December 2nd 1994 by Harper Perennial (first published November 1993)
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With Knight's Cross the late General Sir David Fraser, GCB, OBE produced a solid military biography of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel. Fraser was certainly no master with the pen, but his research was thorough and his style straightforward and precise. He relied on Rommel's own writings, those of other German officers and officials, as well as extensive cooperation with Rommel's son, Manfred.

Fraser depicts Rommel fairly – neither exaggerating his military prowess nor whitewashing his admiration of
Brett C
Dec 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
This was an incredible story. Erwin Rommel was a soldier's soldier; he was an officer and a gentleman
on and off the battlefield. Rommel's start began with his gallantry and valor during World War I. He distinguished himself as a young and courageous lieutenant who served in combat in the French Western Front in Argonne, the eastern front in the mountains of Romania (Mount Cosna), and the Italian-Slovenian front at Matajur.

Rommel's reputation as a superb tactician and decisive leader earned him
David Fraser's biography is one of the better books I've read on Field Marshall Rommel. It definitely does not suffer from the apologetics some biographies have that were written within the first decade of the end of the war. This biography seems to be fairly even handed in the treatment of Rommel and his adversaries. As one would expect Rommel's full military career is covered with in depth coverage of the African Campaign and his key involvement building the Atlantic Wall in preparation of an ...more
John Nelson
Field Marshal Rommel is one of the more interesting figures of World War II, and certainly one of the most admirable, at least on the Axis side. This biography gives only cursory attention to his youth, but covers the rest of his life in detail: service in the German Army during WWI, the inter-war period, and finally his great triumphs and eventual losses (against overwhelmingly superior forces) in WWII. Despite its length, though, the book does not delve far beneath the surface, and does not ...more
'Aussie Rick'
Jun 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-military, ww2

There is not much one can add to the other reviews of this very interesting book. The author, David Fraser, offers the reader a well researched and honest account on the life of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel in 562 pages (hardback version). This has been one of the better biographies on Rommel I have read in some time and one of the best military biographies I have read in the last couple of years. I don't think that too many people would not enjoy this account, the author certianly portrays Rommel
Carol Storm
Jul 14, 2019 rated it liked it
It feels unfair to say I was disappointed in this book. It's fast moving, easy to read, epic in scope, and full of action. Legendary German commander Erwin Rommel emerges as a compelling figure, made up of diverse elements. He's a man of integrity, honest and decent rather than cruel and ambitious. Yet he willingly obeyed an evil madman for years. He's a rigid military commander who enforced strict discipline yet to his own troops he was a beloved father figure and role model. Even his worst ...more
Oct 16, 2008 rated it it was ok
Boring book about everyone's favorite Nazi. It's hard to make ice war in the Alps in WWI, Blitzkrieg in France in WWII and the brilliance which was his two stints in North Africa seem pedestrian, but Fraser pulls it off. You will learn lots about Rommel, but unless this is the only book you can get yours hands on, read anything else, although in fairness to Fraser, most every other author has a disturbing amount of man-love for Rommel. I will also credit him for pointing out many of Rommel's ...more
Dec 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
This was an amazing biography. I have not read one this impressive since Robertson's Stonewall Jackson biography. Fraser does an amazing job detailing not only the tactical genius of Rommel but also the atmosphere of Nazi Germany and why it was so easy for so many to fall for Hitler's charm. My only problem with this book is that Fraser went out of his way to convince everyone that Rommel had no idea about the atrocities of the Nazi regime and he was just a naive general who had been fooled by ...more
Jun 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I read this book when I was in college. I was taking a Nazi Germany history class from the amazing Dr. Wooster. He gave out an extensive reading list to choose from. This was one of the books that I had chosen to read for the course.

A very interesting and detailed account of Erwin Rommel's military exploits, and about his character as a person and a soldier. Rommel seems to have been a soldier's soldier, doing what he felt was right for the German population and its army up until the end of his
Jonathan Alling
Jul 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'll put a more lengthy review below this, so in case you are not interested in the ins and outs of this book, here are some good things and not so good things I found about the book:

Very well researched with an absolute wealth of information collected from a huge variety of resources
Fairly even-handed in judging Rommel (even though there is a bias present)
Provided a lot of insight into the rise of Hitler and how he was able to keep an entire nation spellbound while committing the
Aug 24, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: military history buffs, historians
Erwin Rommel is a popular subject of biography, not least because he is such a likeable figure. Many milhist buffs who spend most of their time reading about "heroic" American generals also probably have an interest in Rommel, even if their understanding of his past is more troubling. Rommel is the sort of "honorable enemy" which most arm-chair generals like to believe is worth fighting. He is "clean" of the worst crimes of the regime he served, chose an honorable suicide over the dishonor of ...more
Jun 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I thought that Knight's Cross was a very good book. It tells the life of Erwin Rommel who became famous for his role commanding his afrika corps in northern Africa. This book however goes so much deeper than that especially how he was a decorated WWI soldier. Overall anyone who has an interest in military or German history/WWII should read this book.
Allen Drummond
Dec 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found myself just immersed in this book. I am not quite sure why I found it so fascinating, but I did.
David Devine
Feb 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A decent book written by a British General, more or less on the life and times of Erwin Rommel. It is well researched using interviews, letters from Rommel, war dairies and other personal papers. While the focus of the book is on Rommel, very little is mentioned about his childhood. The author pretty much glosses over the early years giving just a few basic tidbits. He really doesn't start delving into Rommel's history until the future Field Marshall joins a Wurttemberg infantry regiment as a ...more
James Taylor
Oct 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fraser’s biography of Erwin Rommel is an weighty work, amounting to over 550 pages. One gains from it a very full picture of Rommel the soldier, as Fraser shows how his subject’s experiences in WWI informed his development as a soldier. There is much on Rommel’s campaign in France in 1940 and his exploits leading the Afrika Korps, and for some readers there may be too much detail. I was fine with what was there.

Much of Rommel’s fame stems for his place as the man who killed himself for his part
Oct 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
First, the bad news--General Fraser's wandering syntax makes the reader think that he might need a GPS device to navigate a sentence. On the good side, this is a thorough, fair and thoughtful study of Rommel's life. Fraser doesn't delve deep into tactics, but prefers to illuminate Rommel's character and guiding principles. The author gives plenty of attention to Rommel's early life and military record rather than advancing quickly to World War II. Fraser also delves into matters that shaped ...more
Jan 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: erwin-rommel
A detailed account of the life and death of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend to anyone who has an interest in WWII history. This man was brave, devoted to his country and was morally strong.
Dec 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I found the author's use of German without any translation pretentious. Besides this, I found the book an insight into Rommel's life.
Anthony Lightbody
Jun 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Great read
Fabian Il.
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great great book on and very interesting man. Many lessons on strategy and how Rommel made the impact he made in the war. Fantastic biography
Dec 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An excellent biography of Field Marshall Rommel. It portrays him as an inspirational, though flawed, leader.
Oct 23, 2007 rated it really liked it
A well-written and accessible biography of one of the most prominent military men of the last century. The author is himself a veteran of the military and his admiration of Rommel's professional prowess is apparent. Very little of the book is spent on his pre-military life, not that it matters. Personally, I was suprised by how much Rommel had accomplished in World War I, a time of his life I had never read about.

Rommel is an interesting character, and studies of him are equally interesting. He
Dec 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, biography
Erwin Rommel, the Desert Fox, is brilliantly brought to life in this biography by David Fraser. Starting in World War 1, this biography shows why Churchill said, "What else matters but beating him?" Even in World War 1, Rommel was a brilliant leader and strategist. And in World War 2 he proved he was one of the best generals in history.Yes, he lost, but as Fraser points out, so did Napoleon, so did Lee; and nobody can say they were not great generals. He ignored Hitler's orders to execute ...more
Jan 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
A sympathetic yet absorbing portrayal of General Rommel and his times. It is evident that over the course of war the British and German generals came to regard each other and as such Fraser's treatment of Rommel may seem tolerant it is in no way some worshiping tome. The book is masterly written, impartial and in-depth account of what made Rommel, his outlook, the beliefs and faith behind his unflinching loyalty to fight for Germany. The book adequately reflects the making of Rommel along with ...more
Feb 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding book about combat leadership. Many other reviewers have stated that Fraser provided too favorable a picture of Rommel. I did not see it that way. He respected Rommel's abilities, but also acknowledged his shortcomings. It is interesting how Rommel became an icon for all sides during the war, largely making his name fighting in a "backwater" theater winning only a couple of major victories. But, Rommel's genius of maneuver warfare, especially with limited means at his disposal, should ...more
Nov 29, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Military history fans.
This was an exciting and informative, if overly apologist, biography of Rommel. It focuses almost exclusively on his military actions rather than his personal life, and tends to gloss over his military defeats. Thats not an entirely indefensible stance however, since Rommel's victories were some of the most sensational and exciting in history, while his defeats tended to be sad, arrogant, and grinding.

My other major criticism, as suggested earlier, is that the author seems to go out of his way
Sep 12, 2012 rated it liked it
Adequate analysis of the military abilities and characteristics of one of Germany's most celebrated commanders. The difficulty was getting a sense of the man behind the decision-making process. His personality slowly emerges, but perhaps the best part of the book comes in the latter chapters during the account of Rommel's reactions to the collapse of the Third Reich and the plot to end Hitler's life. Sympathetic treatment for a man dedicated to service to country and morally sustainable honor ...more
carl  theaker
Jun 01, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ww2

An excellent read. There are a couple areas that were
covered particularly well, one is the feelings and
perspective of German Officer Corps of the 1920s and
how they became accepting of any political events to
get Germany and its military on its feet again.

Additionally, since the Ultra secrets have mostly
been revealed, the bio can take advantage of explaining
how those affected Rommel's efforts, particularly against
Montgomery. To paraphrase, it was like a poker game
in which Monty could see all
Dec 29, 2009 rated it it was ok
A solid read of one of the more notable figures of World War II, a respected military officer. I found Knight's Cross to provide more background that peeled away some of the heroic telling of Rommel in Africa to provide a more compelling description of the man and his military career.

As a well-developed book, it provided insight into the challenges that Germany felt in World War II once the United States entered the war and its manufacturing plant and its population.
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General Sir David William Fraser, OBE (1962), KCB (1973)[1], GCB (1980), (born 30 December 1920) Vallenders, Isington, Alton, Hants, the only surviving son of Brigadier, The Honourable William Fraser (1890-1964) D.S.O., M.C., who was the military attaché at Paris, France, 1938-1939 when the Second World War begun. Sir David was educated at Eton and Christ Church college in the University of ...more
“It has been said that large staffs are the invariable sign of bad armies.” 1 likes
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