The best books on the War in the Desert 1940 – 1943

Who am I?

I am a successful published author of military history nonfiction and fiction with 44 titles in print and have been a lifelong obsessive on the subject of WWII which was my parents’ war. I started on a diet of black & white war movies, then epics such as Tobruk, Raid on Rommel et al. I have been lecturing on the subject at the former Centre for Lifelong Learning at Newcastle University (Now the ‘Explore’ Programme) for 25 years. I am also an experienced and much travelled WWII Battlefield tour guide, with experience of guiding all the major Western Front campaigns. I’m a lifelong historical interpreter and re-enactor.


I wrote...

Blitzing Rommel

By John Sadler,

Book cover of Blitzing Rommel

What is my book about?

For Joe Milburn, Geordie to the core and son of a tenant farmer, war presents an intoxicating mix of terror, tragedy, bloodshed, adrenalin, and opportunity.

As his wartime exploits earn him admiration and respect, he begins to mix in circles very different from those he grew up in – and to take part in military operations that go not only beyond his own previous experience, but beyond the expectations of the most practised of soldiers. When Joe finds himself in North Africa he discovers, among all the loss, love, in the flawless form of Nurse Alice Fleming. Yet as he makes plans for a safer future, one more challenge calls. What else can a man expect when he keeps company with the newly-born SAS?

The books I picked & why

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SAS: Rogue Heroes - The Authorized Wartime History

By Ben Macintyre,

Book cover of SAS: Rogue Heroes - The Authorized Wartime History

Why this book?

A well-researched account of the genesis of the SAS in the Desert War featuring many interviews with veterans. And this is what particularly commends this book – telling the story in the words of those who were actually there, makes for compulsive and highly readable storytelling.


SAS Ghost Patrol

By Damien Lewis,

Book cover of SAS Ghost Patrol

Why this book?

A gripping account of the Big Raids in September 1942 with an abundance of firsthand accounts, this episode of the Desert War is often overlooked, soon to be overshadowed by the 2nd battle of El Alamein but the story has much to teach students of guerrilla tactics today, i.e., the dangers of ‘mission-creep.’


Desert War: The North African Campaign 1940-1943

By Alan Moorehead,

Book cover of Desert War: The North African Campaign 1940-1943

Why this book?

One of the earlier classic accounts of the whole of the Desert War from the pen of a celebrated war correspondent of the era who was actually there. This is a good and accessible history of the War which features all the main advances and retreats of both sides and includes interesting commentary on the desert generals, ours and theirs.


G. Patrol

By Michael Crichton- Stuart,

Book cover of G. Patrol

Why this book?

One aspect of this book which appeals is that whilst most of the LRDG Patrols were drawn from the New Zealanders, South Africans & Rhodesians, whose civvy lives in the outdoors naturally fitted them for the rigours of desert warfare and who embodied a fair level of independence of spirt, the Guards represent the very epitome of elitism, spit & polish and rigid hierarchies that you’d expect of the most conventional of conventional forces. Yet they achieved great success within the altogether unconventional ranks of LRDG.


Alamein: War Without Hate

By John Bierman, Colin Smith,

Book cover of Alamein: War Without Hate

Why this book?

A good modern account of the battle with a well-researched and detailed context. The authors are primarily journalists and the story is fully fleshed out with a good, well-paced contextual analysis and their version makes an interesting comparison/contrast with the more traditional, often hagiographic accounts of the Battle and of Montgomery as a general.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in World War 2, North Africa, and Germany?

5,887 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about World War 2, North Africa, and Germany.

World War 2 Explore 975 books about World War 2
North Africa Explore 14 books about North Africa
Germany Explore 297 books about Germany

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Solo, An Army at Dawn, and Pendulum of War if you like this list.