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Publisher's Summary

In the early days of April 1941, the 14,000 Australian forces garrisoned in the Libyan town of Tobruk were told to expect reinforcements and supplies within eight weeks. Eight months later these heroic, gallant, determined "Rats of Tobruk" were rescued by the British Navy having held the fort against the might of Rommel's never-before-defeated Afrika Corps.

Like Gallipoli and Kokoda, the siege of Tobruk is an iconic battle in Australia's military history. Under ceaseless attack from Rommel's men, the Australian defense held strong. In Tobruk, Peter FitzSimons relates the personal histories and stories not only of the men who defended the garrison against the German onslaught but of the Desert Fox, Erwin Rommel, and the powers back in both Berlin and Britain.

©2006 Peter FitzSimons (P)2007 Bolinda Publishers Pty Ltd.

Critic Reviews

"Gripping stuff." ( Sydney Morning Herald)
"A thorough, highly readable, distillation of the overlooked Battle of Tobruk." ( The Age)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Story

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Gillian
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • 05-07-14

'Bloody' Brilliant!

This ain't just for Aussies (though I can see how this book could definitely make them puff their chests out in pride!) What a great book! This covers a battle of World War 2 that I hadn't heard about it, but I must fess up that I'd never been that interested in the war in Africa. I know: Shame on me! And I also confess that at the last minute I changed the Overall to 5-stars. The reason: It was so good that I ran to the computer to use a credit for "Kokoda" because I thought the author was brilliant at making figures of history so real to me and for making the men who fought in the battle men that I desperately wanted the best for.
This is a seamless narrative, great representation of characters, with a drop-dead thrilling "plot." I do, however, get twitchy about narrators, and while Bower was almost flawless, I thought I had to listen at x1.25 speed to get that sense of breathlessness that I desire in something that needs the swift pacing that the story seems to demand.
If you're a war buff, or if you just like good action with lots of humor, give this book a try. Definitely credit-worthy.
My favorite line from the soldiers that I have added to my working dialogue: "If it's stupid and it works... It ain't stupid!"

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Fair dinkum

This is an entertaining Aussie-eye view of events in World War 2, centering on, but not limited to, the stubborn defense of Tobruk. The book is written in colloquial Australian-English and is well recorded and, as nearly as I can tell, perfectly read. Highly recommended.

18 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Charles
  • Fort Worth, Texas USA
  • 01-24-09

The Few, The Proud, The Australian!

This is an outstanding history of the battle of Tobruk and Australia's role in World War II from the point of view of the digger, the average Aussie soldier. It is biased towards the Aussies, who at times Fitzsimmons paints as supermen, but Fitzsimmons admits his bias in the introduction. This is an ode to Australia's World War II soldiers and an entertaining listen, especially the slang. This book is a primer on Australian slang. I thought the narrator was great, but at times the Australian slang may be too much for some listeners.

"Tobruk" is a great book for serious World War II buffs, because frankly it goes into details about the Aussies that no general campaign history will ever cover. Fitzsimmons is tough on nearly every non-Australian leader other than Rommel, but his critical assessment of Churchill is particularly refreshing.

If you like "Tobruk" I would recommend "At All Costs" by Sam Moses about the siege of Malta too.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Outstanding

At first, I struggled through the immense detail provided by the author but resolved to return to the read in remembrance of my father who was captured in Tobruk. This detail proved essential to an understanding of the complex situation at that time. FitzSimons has done the WW11 history of Tobruk proud. The way he has woven in the lives of the participants as real people is also admirable. I was left with tears in my eyes. Humphrey Bower's narration is beyond superb!!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Written book vs Audible--Incredible Performance

Often I have discussions with my family and friends about what movies made better books, and vice versa. With audible, the question is "does a narrator do a book justice?" Well, with Tobruk, I have to be honest, I doubt I would ever stayed with this if I picked it up off a bookshelf. The author has an unusual story telling style that I doubt comes off well if simply read. He mixes tenses, writes from imagined view of participants, complete with a slang, and worse, he segues from well-described battle scenes to anecdotes that while they may or may not truly relate to his story, they definitely hinder momentum built up by the prior scene. He even quotes Shakespeare at odd moments(sometimes without attributing).

However, having said that, Humprhrey Bower transforms this book and somehow brings this fascinating story to life.
I am two thirds through the book and loving it. Bower does a great job of transporting you to the scene of the battle, to life in tanks and trenches, the hot sun beating down, the trepidation of the battle, the heart wrenching sorrow of an Australian wife whose husband is in the battle. Even the odd slang sprinkled throughout, which at times reminds you of characters in 1940's movies saying "Golly Gee" or "Goshdarnit" ,comes off well done.

The story itself is worthwhile, the heroism of the Australians stopping the German Blitzkrieg. Obviously the author is in love with his subject, so don't expect an objective view, although he does a good job covering the German viewpoint.
To be honest, this really comes across like a novel, not a history. What you might call a docudrama or dramatization.
Personally I think I would have loved Fitzsimmons book more if he had written a straight up novel, as this so much reminded me of Stephen Pressfield's Killing Rommel.

As for Bower, I am definitely interested in picking up another book he narrates. I listened to a sample of Kokoda by Fitzgibbons and while style is the same, it isn't Bower, and sounded very flat compared to this book.

By the way, the common complaint in other reviews before I purchased is about the slow start. I didn't find it as bad as all that. He first mentions desert warfare in Chapter 4 and really doesn't even mention Tobruk itself until the following chapter. Yes, this certainly could have been trimmed, but again, Bower kept me going. Stick with it as the battle scenes are very well done.



5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • O'Brien
  • Singleton, Australia
  • 05-16-11

Well written , entertaining and captivating

An excellent yarn and the equivalent of a book that you can't put down. The story is well structured and apart from the usual character set up at the beginning of the book I was never bored. The narrator’s change of pitch at the start of some chapters was a bit off putting, though this didn't detract from the overall experience. Can't wait for my next credit to grab Kokoda by the same author.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Meade
  • Flanders, NJ, USA
  • 01-10-09

Great Story

A great story well told. I've read A LOT of history books about WWII, this one goes up there with the Battle of the Buldge by Ambrose. Rarely do Americans realize how much effort other non-European countries put into the winning. This book goes beyond the battle and includes all the interesting political and background info leading up to and through the battle.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Compelling

One of the best audio books I have ever "read". This account reads with an air of responsibility to the memories of the gallant young Australians who so bravely, and selflessly served their country for a much grander purpose. A truly remarkable work by Peter Fitzsimons.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Graham
  • Seahampton, Australia
  • 06-18-11

ABSOLUTELY BLOODY FANTASTIC

I thoroughly enjoyed the book, the timelines and the way the reader is involved in mutiple parallel stories on different sides of the globe adds much depth and is significant to the complete works.
Very well written and wonderfully read by Humphrey.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Agree with everyone but Alan

A wonderful story, with all of the aforementioned reviewers adjectives. My dogs got extra-long walks so I would not have to put the book "down."

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Darren
  • 02-06-09

Absolutely superb.

Absolutely superb. 23 hours long means no stone is left unturned with this, everything is covered in detail from the world Political situation to the action on the frontline. But it never gets boring with plenty of drama and a healthy dose of humour. The Aussie bloke reading it does it good job too.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lester
  • 11-09-11

Tobruk

I don't normally write reviews, however this is up there with Jackson's 'storm of war', Evans 'Third Reich' series, and Lord's 'Miracle of Dunkirk'. It's an excellent book.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Richard
  • 05-10-11

Australians in North Africa

One of the most striking statements in this book concerns the German’s asking Australians what they are doing in North Africa. At a time when Japan was threatening Australia and the war was going badly in the Pacific a large army of Australians where fighting under the British in the desert campaign. Their contribution was vital and their reputation was second to none. This is their story and I would not hesitate to recommend it. It is packed with detail from the soldiers on the ground to the Australian PM travelling to Britain to plead with Churchill to allow Australians to command Australians and to allow troops home to defend their homeland. It is a stark reminder of the power of the Empire that South Africans, New Zealanders and Indians where also there. While their existence and contribution is largely unknown in the UK, it is engrained into the memories of their ancestors as much as the Dunkirk and the Battle of Britain are in the UK. A very well written and narrated story.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Paul
  • 11-02-11

Torbruk by Peter Fitzsimons

A first rate story well presented I could imagine the hardship of warfare in such an unforgiving environment. I highly recommend this audio book

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Andrew
  • 01-15-15

Sublime and Ridiculous.

This is a fascinating work about a really important and gripping campaign. The scholarship is admirable.
The narration is excellent.
The writing style is dreadful; stoked up with cliches and using a conversational style that is like the worst Chips Rafferty script. This could have been a great novel or an outstanding account of a fascinating military campaign. It is neither but worth gritting your teeth to get through all the "their's but to do and die" and "Fair dinkum cobber" clutter to the treasure beyond.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Mr. Philip Sketchley
  • 09-06-17

Definitely worth a listen (or read)

An excellent book. The story jumps about a bit - but the inclusion of stories about individual soldiers brings it to life. A torrid time for so many Brave men. My father served in North Africa at El Alamein and spoke very respectfully of the Aussie soldiers.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Rob Richardson
  • 03-16-15

Fantastic book a must read!

I really enjoyed this book, it was extremely factual without being boring!
I would fully recommend it to anyone interested in the Second World War.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Andy
  • 07-07-14

Easy listen history lite account

Is there anything you would change about this book?

More quoting of primary sources needed - much of the book is unattributed. Example writing about thoughts of people who left no written record - pure imagination.

Very pro-aussie stereotyping - Aussies lean mean fighting machines, good hearted kind but tough fighters. Brits Poms public school educated aristocrats and incompetently led.

Bit like the Bradman Jardine caricatures of the bodyline series

Would you recommend Tobruk to your friends? Why or why not?

Yes if a human interest history of tobruk is what your interested

Have you listened to any of Humphrey Bower’s other performances? How does this one compare?

N/A

Could you see Tobruk being made into a movie or a TV series? Who would the stars be?

Yes - not sure some aussies

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • M. J. Wallace
  • 05-15-14

Superbly written

Where does Tobruk rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

In the top five

What other book might you compare Tobruk to, and why?

This is the first WW2 book I have listened to and I will be looking for more
So nothing to compare against at the moment

What about Humphrey Bower’s performance did you like?

The narrative is excellent ,and read with compassion !

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

There are several very moving sections to the story ,especially when close friends are lost in battle
As an ex soldier myself ,I can feel the pain that is written !

Any additional comments?

A superbly written book and expertly read
Very enjoyable

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Dave
  • 04-26-14

All the info I did not know about Tobruk

If you could sum up Tobruk in three words, what would they be?

Long live Rats

What did you like best about this story?

The story behind the story, the history, the players, the men, the families.

Have you listened to any of Humphrey Bower’s other performances? How does this one compare?

No

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

oh yes

Any additional comments?

Well worth the wait

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-28-18

detailed intimate account

I found this hard to physically read. but! I found it all but impossible to not listen to this detailed, intimate account of the battle of Tobruk. to be honest I'm not the biggest fan of Peter Fitzsimmons. I cant fault him here at all. thankyou for researching, writing and sharing this account 6 stars out of 5.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 06-04-18

I met a Rat once. This was a great book

I had the pleasure of meeting a 96 year old veteran who was a Rat Of Tobruk and writing a poem for him, based on some of his experiences. So many of his stories were expanded on in this amazing book. My respect for his story and the stories and sacrifices made by all servicemen has increased exponentially with the reading of this.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Scott3ds
  • 02-04-18

Fantastic!

Would you consider the audio edition of Tobruk to be better than the print version?

Yes could listen on the run, in the car etc

What other book might you compare Tobruk to, and why?

Unsure - this was simply fantastic, not sure if anything compares

What does Humphrey Bower bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Great Australian twist

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Many times

Any additional comments?

Lovely Australian history, captures perfectly the defiant Australian spirit

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • alicia
  • 08-31-17

Just wonderful

This is just a fantastic telling of one of our most significant achievements and more Australian's should listen or read.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Andrew
  • 06-03-17

Gripping

Gripping story telling and fascinating history. Made me weep in gratitude to Aussie diggers. Highly recommended

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mitchell
  • 06-01-17

Tobruk

Brilliant. Very well written. Very good narrator, really captures the spirit of the story. 10/10

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Geordie
  • 02-21-17

high quality ,very tougher inclusive of many sides

head line says my thoughts blah blah blah blah blah.blah blah blah.blah blah blah blah

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • luke
  • 12-19-16

Great read

Great book great narration good history and some fantastic study done for the work in this book

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Ben
  • 11-12-16

amazing

amazing heroic story delivered in an edge of the seat manner. as always peter fitzsimmons presents an extremely well researched story which every aussie should be aware of

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Charles
  • 09-17-16

Truly And Utterly Brilliant

This is one of the greatest books on a battle or conflict I've read, the author (Peter Fitzsimons) manages to perfectly convey the experiences of the Australian, British, Polish and German forces who battled at Tobruk. Humor and mateship is key in this book and it truly shows the human element of the battle. If only more knew of this book and the Battle Of Tobruk itself.