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Bibliophile price: £4.25
'Nothing ever disturbed or rattled him, and duty was a full satisfaction in itself, especially if it seemed perilous and hard. But all this was combined with so gay and easier manner that the pleasure and honour of his friendship was prized by all those who enjoyed it, among whom I could count myself.' The officer to whom Winston Churchill was referring was the then Lieutenant General Sir Harold Alexander who, in the fullness of time, would become Field Marshal Earl Alexander of Tunis. Known as Harold Alexander or Alex whether by Prime Ministers or the rank and file, he was one of Britain's best loved and most charismatic WWII commanders. His conduct as a divisional commander during the withdrawal through Dunkirk, where he took over the British 1st Corps, confirmed his outstanding ability. In 1942, by now a full general, he was sent belatedly to Burma with orders to hold the Japanese at Rangoon. On arrival he realised this was impossible and his decision to withdraw prevented a total disaster. Despite this reversal he retained Churchill's confidence and he was appointed C-in-C Middle East where Montgomery and the Eighth Army came under his command. His crucial role supporting Monty has possibly been underestimated. Alexander commanded an army group during the campaigns in Tunisia and subsequently Sicily, and for the rest of the war masterminded the Allies' long slog up through Italy, when the focus had shifted to North West Europe. Despite his record and popularity he has detractors. Critics have tried to claim that he lacked steel and true ability. Surprisingly this is the first in-depth literary study of this giant yet controversial figure for over 30 years. 264pp, 13 maps, 39 photos.

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