Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Why an Epilogue?… and other questions

"There are several questions raised in the book that should be put to rest", writes Rohmer in his Epilogue.

Questions? This reader didn't have any; this reader just wanted the book to end.

But, but… what happened to Kluge? What happened to Rommel?

Well, they killed themselves, didn't they. You knew that before picking up the book, right? The Kluge and Rommel questions just are filler. The author really wants to pose a question about Patton. No, not what happened to Patton – best not cover that – but whether his hero was a pilot:
To lead you toward the astonishing proposition that General Patton might have been a qualified pilot, I will recount a short anecdote about meeting Old Blood and Guts just before D-Day.
An astonishing proposition? No, not really, but it does give an excuse to reprint the two pages from Patton's Gap in which he describes meeting his hero.

Patton was a pilot? So am I!

This, of course, leads toward the true astonishing proposition that Richard Rohmer might have been the reconnaissance pilot who "found Rommel's staff car on 17 July, called in the fighters that strafed in, and removed Rommel from the Battle of Normandy". Those who miss it this time will find the very same account, using the exact same words, in the second edition of Patton's Gap.

Was it really Rohmer? I like to think so. What irks is that no one – not a single historian, not the three Jabos Rohmer was leading that day – has said as much. The only person who has repeated Rohmer's claim is his friend James Bond The Man Called Intrepid™.

He was in Ontario at the time.

Self-serving? Can we at least agree that this is not, as the publisher claims, a "remarkable non-fiction epilogue"?

1 comment:

  1. Only Rohmer could hang a "what if" thriller on a "what if" that wouldn't have made the slightest bit of difference. What if Rohmer hadn't spotted Rommel's car? (Rommel might have lived.) And what if he had? (He might of tried to make a deal with the allies.) But what happened instead? (Kluge made the offer.) And how was history changed? (Not a all. It was rejected. And it's not like the Allies would have accepted the offer if Rommel had made it, just because he had such a winning personality.) Rommel's injuries change nothing. And Kluge's offer changes nothing. It's speculative history where the speculation doesn't lead anywhere.

    Like the typical Rohmer "thriller" without anything remotely resembling a thrill. No, that's not fair. All his books do is resemble thrillers. It makes me think about that line from The Squire of Gothos:

    "You should taste his food. Straw would taste better than his meat, and water a hundred times better than his brandy - nothing has any taste at all."