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Orde Wingate

Orde Wingate Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review November 2012 Title Orde Wingate
Author Jon Diamond Publisher Osprey Publishing
Published 2012 ISBN 9781849083232
Format 64 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $18.95


Nearly 70 years after his death, Orde Wingate remains a complex, controversial figure.

Admirers call him brilliant and innovative.  Detractors call him egocentric and irrelevant.  And Israelis call him yadid – "beloved friend".

Jon Diamond sifts such certainties in his brilliant little biography from Osprey.  And the author's compelling sketch skillfully snares this complicated, contentious character in just 64 pages.

After a brief introduction, contents capably course through Orde Wingate's formative personal and military years.  A keen observer of enemy actions, Wingate, serving with the Sudan Defense Force, noticed how fluidly bands of brigands dispersed and re-deployed under attack.

Later in Palestine, he helped create Special Night Squads – small units of motivated, mobile British troops and Jewish paramilitary volunteers combating Arab terrorism.  And in Ethiopia, he forged "Gideon Force" – forerunner to long-range penetration operations by his legendary Chindits in Burma.  There he also integrated air power and "stronghold" basing into his schemes of irregular combat.

Along this path to prominence, Wingate allured and alienated superiors and comrades alike.  And long after his untimely 1944 death, Wingate remains as divisive and enigmatic as ever.

Diamond's splendid study concludes with instructive notes on three "opposing commanders", peer assessments and subject psychology.  Perhaps it's my academic bent – or even Osprey's condensed format.  But those parts simply begged more attribution than the author offers.  Also, Diamond – a physician – displays remarkable restraint discussing Wingate's psyche.

Nitpicks notwithstanding, I couldn't put Orde Wingate down.  Diamond's pithy little précis superbly summarizes his subject.  And Peter Dennis's informative illustrations, photos, sidebars and maps ably augment the account.

I confess lifelong fascination with irregular warfare.  And Wingate continues inspiring those who practice what Judokas call Kuzushi in conflict.  This admirably indexed effort deserves a place in every WWII enthusiast's library.  It's now required reading for our four kids.

Rabidly recommended.

My sincere thanks to Osprey Publishing for this review sample!