Book Review – ‘Torch: North Africa and the Allied path to victory’ by John T. Kuehn Commander, USN (Ret.)

By John T. Kuehn Commander, USN (Ret.), published November 2020


In his post-war history of the Nazi navy and its war at sea in the Second World War, Der Seekrieg: The German navy’s story, 1939–1945, German Admiral Friedrich Ruge names one of his later chapters ‘Amphibious Operations Decide the War’. This is precisely the point that Vincent O’Hara makes on the very first page of this excellent new study of operation torch, the first major Allied amphibious operation in the European Theatre in the Second World War: ‘Thus the road to victory would begin on a beach. There was no other choice.’

O’Hara’s thesis for the book is complex and multi-part. He argues that ‘Torch was a rushed, half-baked experiment in the art of war, full of untested ideas and amateur touches.’ (p. 3) However, it forced the Anglo-American Allies to address two important issues critical the success of the war — how to conduct large amphibious operations on a broad scale, and how to fight at all of the levels of war (tactical, operational and strategic) as coalition partners. The author argues that ‘the story of how the Allies applied their systems of amphibious and coalition warfare to subsequent operations is the story of how they won World War II in Europe’ …

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Filed under: WW2 | Mediterranean
Subjects include: Battles & Tactics | Navies

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