Gen. Erwin Rommel arrived in Africa's Western Desert in February 1941 to head the elite German Afrika Korps in its efforts to bolster its battered Italian allies. Disobeying orders to remain on the defensive, Rommel attacked, nearly pushed the numerically superior British out of Libya, and besieged the critical port of Tobruk. Unable to capture it, Rommel's forces defeated two British attempts to relieve the garrison before being forced to withdraw at the end of 1941. Seasoned by months of desert warfare, Rommel stood ready to achieve his greatest successes in 1942, a story told in Rommel's Desert War (978-0-8117-3413-4).
Samuel W. Mitcham, Jr., is the author of more than twenty books on World War II. He lives in Louisiana.