Brazen Chariots

Brazen Chariots

by Robert Crisp


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"Unquestionably the finest narrative of tank warfare to come out of World War II."—Los Angeles Times

A tank officer's story of the desert war in North Africa, Brazen Chariots is one of the most widely praised war books ever published. Major Robert Crisp recounts Operation Crusader, the great tank battle waged against Rommel's Afrika Korps on the borders of Egypt.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393327120
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 08/17/2005
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Robert Crisp was a South African Test cricketer, a major in the Third Royal Tank Regiment, and a journalist.

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Brazen Chariots 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
jamespurcell on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
From Time Magazine, Feb 1, 1960The air force, the infantry, the surface warships, and submariners, the merchant marine¿all have had their share of glory in the histories and novels of World War II. A noticeable gap is the one left by the men who fought in tanks. They have been mentioned, but seldom in a starring role. Yet their part was often crucial, and their death was often the most fearful¿with the victims trapped in a flaming pyre that offered no escape. In Brazen Chariots, a South African major of the British Army, who fought in Greece and later in North Africa against Rommel, tells a story that belongs in the first rank of combat books.Author Robert Crisp, a journalist in peacetime, describes a kind of war that would seem a surrealist's vision if his style were not so clear, his recollections not so firmly founded in painful reality. Before his war was over, Crisp had been wounded four times, had 17 tanks shot out from under him, and destroyed more than 40 of the enemy armor. He also picked up a D.S.O. and an M.C.A Sip of Tea. Author Crisp is irreverent and serious by turn. He went into Operation Crusader (against Rommel's forces massed around Tobruk) in November 1941, full of beans and combat vinegar. By the end of the fourth day, "we shed our lightheartedness and eagerness. The sense of adventure had gone out of our lives, to be replaced by grimness and fear and a perpetual, mounting weariness of body and spirit." His U.S.-built MS light tanks¿known to Crisp and his men as "Honeys"¿mounted 37-mm. guns, whose shells bounced off the heavy German panzers like peas. To knock them out, Crisp and his fellow fighters had to race their tanks around the panzers, shoot them from behind or from the flanks while using one or more of themselves as decoys. For a month sleep averaged a couple of hours a night. A sip of tea became so important that Crisp's men risked death to take time out to brew some. By the end of the ninth day of battle. Crisp's corps had 119 of the 600 tanks with which they had left so airily from Egypt.Major Crisp, who describes himself as a frightened man who fought to submerge his fears, was always out in front, almost always outnumbered. His picture of the desert terrain is remarkably well drawn¿a weird world of sand and escarpments where the battle swirled without seeming aim or purpose except to destroy whatever enemy showed, usually to the surprise of both sides. Friends destroyed each other supposing that they had the enemy in their sights, and Crisp's most sickening memory is that of the day when he himself knocked out a British tank.A Damn Fine Gunner. He seldom knew how the war was going, and his few bitter passages concern the fact that the brass did not seem to know either. Astonishing chances to destroy the enemy were missed on both sides. For weeks Crisp's comrades were blown up or "fried" all around him. Then his day came. A direct hit, a chunk of steel that stopped just short of his brain, and Tanker Crisp was evacuated from an inferno that he has described better than any other writer. the British won, partly because Rommel made mistakes, but mostly because they had Crisps on their side. One postwar day in a London bar, a young man said to Crisp: "You won't remember me, but we have met before." It was a survivor of the British tank that Crisp had crippled. Recalling the horror of that day, Crisp replied: "I wish to hell I could forget you." But the survivor only grinned. "Bloody good shooting . . . You must have had a damn fine gunner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago