THE END OF THE BEGINNING: From the Siege of Malta to the Allied Victory at El Alamein

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THE END OF THE BEGINNING: From the Siege of Malta to the Allied Victory at El Alamein, Tim Clayton and Phil Craig, The Free Press, New York, 2003, 368 pages, $27.50.

The End of the Beginning is the second collaboration between Tim Clayton and Phil Craig about the British experience during World War II. They also authored the highly acclaimed Finest Hour: The Battle of Britain (Simon & Schuster, New York, 2000), which pays tribute to the British people's efforts during 1940. The End of the Beginning begins where The Finest Hour ends (in terms of critical events for the British during the war). Clayton and Craig key in on the period 25 May to 10 November 1942, when the British Army was gaining confidence in its leaders and itself.

The authors focus on the fighting between the British and the Germans from Tobruk to El Alamein, explore the British convoy operation (Pedestal) to Malta, and devote a chapter to the Dieppe Raid, shifting effectively between the levels of war. At one point they narrate a tank battle then shift to a critical meeting between Britain's Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Harry Hopkins (President Franklin D. Roosevelt's "point man" for the New Deal).

The book, reminiscent of those written by the superb German author Paul Carell, would be a great companion to Carell's Foxes in the Desert (Bantam, New York, 1966), which looks at the North African campaign from the German point of view. …