A Noble Crusade: The History of the Eighth Army 1941-45 by Richard Doherty

If you are interested in reading a dry history of the British Eighth Army, please read Richard Doherty’s A Noble Crusade: The History of the Eighth Army 1941-45. Otherwise, stay away from this book.

The book is a conglomeration of the various battles and campaigns that the Eighth Army fought in. Doherty mixes a rote description of the campaigns in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy with detailed descriptions of individual acts of valor by its soldiers. Most of these little stories, no more than a paragraph or two, are interesting and provide a valuable look at the soldiers of the various parts of the British Empire who served in the Army. Unfortunately, Doherty does not extend this interesting reading to the rest of the text.

The pages seem to run together as the various battles are explained. Doherty’s writing is overbearing at times when he discusses the different units involved in the fighting. In fact, the units seem to blend together. I do have to admit – as an American accustomed to descriptions of U.S. military units – it is hard to follow the British designations for units. Most of the regimental units are more descriptions than designations – such as, the 9th Durham Light Infantry. After using a unit’s full name, Doherty then uses acronyms for these units later in the text – i.e. 9th Durham Light Infantry is 9th DLI – this makes it harder to follow a battle in the book because of all the acronyms that are used.

As a result of the dry and boring writing style, it is hard to read the book with much interest.

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