Sunday, 29 June 2014

And the name of that “youthful reconnaissance pilot”?

Richard Rohmer.

I really wanted to like this book. I expected to like this book. So, why didn’t I like this book? Mostly it's because it's not being the book I wanted. My fault entirely. I wanted to read Rohmer’s wartime reminiscences, but instead got something about how “flamboyant” George S. Patton was done wrong by “frail” Bernard L. Montgomery.

I take issue with Rohmer’s contention that the Falaise Gap renders everything achieved on D-Day a dismal failure. Is he right that Montgomery's bruised ego was at fault? Could be. He doesn’t present much of a case because he doesn’t present much. Yeah, I’m going on about the lack of original research again.

Rohmer is pretty quick to dismiss anything that contradicts his argument as the product of a “faultiness of memory”, which is how we get this:
Bradley, in A Soldier’s Story, attempted to recall verbatim conversations and the line of reasoning that led him to the decisions he’d made seven years earlier.
Well, A Soldier’s Story was published in May 1951, not even six years after D-Day. Bradley wrote the memoir with the aid of his World War II files, which are currently held at the Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania… which is a place Rohmer didn’t visit, but should have.

Rohmer’s own memories of the war are heavily reliant on that the Squadron 430 logbook, which in some ways explains the bland, emotionless prose that makes very nearly each and every one of his flights the same as the last. The most memorable is that in which Rohmer writes that he was scared… there's emotion, you see.

What does it say about Patton's Gap that most vivid scene is the one in which Richard Rohmer is slugged by a madam for being an asshole? What does it say about the author that he feels no shame, after all these decades, at having slugged her back?

Q: Shouldn’t the title be Monty’s Gap?

1 comment:

  1. Why isn't it Monty's Gap? Because Rohmer loves a fake-out. Separation doesn't happen. (Twice!) Does the Exodus/UK happen? (I know it's all moot by the end of the book thanks to the sudden discovery of lots of North Sea oil.) But mostly I think it's Patton's Gap because Rohmer met Patton and he never met Bradley or Monty. Mustangs Over Normandy is a much better title.

    Wow... remember that question on SRA cards? "What's the best title for this story?" I remember being in a movie theatre with my brother and seeing a trailer for Black Rain, and when that title came up, thinking: "And now you have my money." (I think the tag line might have been, "Justice falls... like Black Rain.") Turned out to have practically nothing to do with the story (setting, theme, characters, rising action) of the movie. It simply communicated that that the filmmakers and I (an 18-to-35-year-old with $8) agreed that the same things were cooooool.

    That was the best title for that story.