“Fox on the Rhine” review

Fox on the Rhine, Douglas Niles and Michael Dobson

So, as the back cover says, what if Molotov and Ribbentrop actually got a peace treaty done in ’44?

What if the Nazis got their “screaming Mimis” deployed effectively?  And, what if Rommel was deployed to the European theatre, rather than executed?

Would that have sucked for the U.S.?  Well, yes, it would have.  The basic concept is that Operation Valkyrie is a success, but that the conspirators are unable to keep Himmler from sliding into absolute power.  Then, things happen.

The downside to this, aside from the writing, which is uneven (one of these two authors is clearly a better writer than the other), is that it tends to be a cheer-fest for Rommel that essentially depends on the U.S. acting fairly stupidly.

A note on that — for some reason, it’s popular to present Rommel as a soldier’s soldier who could make things happen and also stand up to the Reich.  Problem being, Rommel never stood up to the Reich, in any way, shape, or form.  While not even vaguely the worst man in Nazi Germany, it seems to be popular to try to make him into a better man than he actually was… particularly now that we know that the Wehrmacht was every bit as implicated in the Holocaust as the SS.

The rest of the book essentially sets up revolvers on the mantlepiece, more or less completely destroying any suspense.  The book frequently pops over to letters and historical book accounts, which is a neat gimmick, but serves to defuse the tension at precisely the wrong times, including such forehead-slappers as “Halsey’s going to take the Fleet through the Panama Canal to Europe?  WHAT???”  Okay, let’s say they do that.  Then you have the Jewish guy who’s sabotaging the jet engines — essentially creating a Deus Ex Macchina, and telling you it’s coming two hundred pages in advance.  The ending is also rushed, and badly so, with numerous statements that don’t make a whole lot of sense, such as the surrendering Germans helping the US across the Rhine.

But most damning is that the entire setup for what Rommel supposedly could have achieved is predicated upon the US more or less acting in such a way as to invite it, and in a counter-historical manner.  The US could have done fast, deep drives into france after Normandy — generally speaking, they didn’t, precisely because they were wary of the Germans throwing a counter-attack designed to encircle and cut off said lead groups.

So, what are we left with?  A decent bath-tub Patton vs. Rommel read that takes a couple interesting historical ideas, has decently-written combat scenes (though my Redleg Buddy will note that the artillery is almost completely devalued in the text, as one would expect from a book focusing on the Cav), and some real “OMG did they just write that?”

Amazingly, I agree with Ms. Napolitano

Drudge has a great big freak-out line while linking to a Yahoo News article about the installation of millimeter-wave scanners at airports.

I’m of two minds here.  First, it won’t stop several forms of explosives that can be smuggled in via carry-ons.  But second, it will absolutely shut down 99.44% of all the effective weapons which a passenger could bring onto a plane on his person and concealed underneath clothing (and I say this as a guy who’s reasonably handy with improvised stuff).

So while I’d prefer a better solution for baggage and carry-ons, I’m absolutely in favor of replacing the currently-ineffective scanners, which won’t stop a sophisticated attacker short of having everybody strip down to their underwear anyway.  It is a better and more elegant solution, in spite of the outside possibility that some bored guy might enjoy looking at electronic representations of thousands upon thousands of fat people walking through scanners every day.

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