Saturday, June 7, 2008

Steven Pressfield

Steven Pressfield is the author of Gates of Fire, The Virtues of War, Tides of War, Last of the Amazons, The Legend of Bagger Vance, The Afghan Campaign, and the newly released, Killing Rommel.

From a Q & A at his website:

Mr. P., what is the new book about and what made you switch from the ancient world to the modern?

Killing Rommel is a novel about a true World War II British special forces unit (really the first special forces outfit of modern times) called the Long Range Desert Group and about their partnership with another British special forces unit, the SAS. The LRDG operated out of Cairo and various desert oases, including Alexander the Great's old stomping grounds at Siwa. Its mission was raiding and reconnaissance behind enemy lines, against Rommel and the German Afrika Korps. If you look at the cover art for the new book, the scorpion pin in the center was the badge of the Long Range Desert Group. The group's motto was "Not by Strength, by Guile."

How did you get to that subject from the ancient world?

I got there via Alexander the Great. I was researching Alexander's cavalry tactics for a couple of earlier books. That led me to Frederick the Great, to Napoleon, and to other more contemporary cavalry commanders. Sure enough, I wound up studying Rommel, who used tanks with the same dash and aggressiveness as Alexander used cavalry.

For a while I thought I might write a book strictly about Rommel. He was a fascinating personage, not just as a fighting general but as a man. I didn't know that he had been implicated in the 1944 plot to assassinate Hitler -- and that he had been forced by Hitler's generals to take poison or face a trial before a Nazi court.

But I couldn't find a way into the story. Nothing was ringing bells. Then I stumbled onto some books about the Long Range Desert Group. That did it.
Read the entire Q & A.

The Page 69 Test: Killing Rommel.

--Marshal Zeringue