Fraser, David 1920–
Fraser, David 1920–
(David William Fraser)
PERSONAL: Born December 30, 1920, in Camberley, England; son of William (a brigadier general) and Pamela (Maude) Fraser; married Anne Balfour, September 26, 1947 (marriage dissolved, 1952); married Julia Frances de la Hey, October 11, 1957; children: (first marriage) Antonia Fraser Hanbury; (second marriage) Arabella Fraser Birdwood, Alexander James, Simon, Lucy Fraser Baring. Education: Attended Christ Church, Oxford; British Army Staff College, 1949; and Imperial Defence College, 1966. Religion: Church of England. Hobbies and other interests: Shooting.
ADDRESSES: Home—Vallenders, Isington, Alton, Hampshire GU34 4PP, England. Agent—Michael Sissons, Peters, Fraser, and Dunlop Group, Drury House, 34-43 Russell St., London WC2B 5HA, England.
CAREER: British Army, career officer, 1941–80, served with Grenadier Guards in Northwest European Campaign and in Malaya, 1941–49, member of staff at War Office in London, England, 1950–51, assigned to regimental duty in Egypt and served as brigade major of First Guards Brigade, 1952–54, regimental adjutant in London, 1955–57, assigned to regimental duty in Cyprus and Germany, 1958–60, commander of First Battalion of the Grenadier Guards in England and British Cameroons, 1960–62, member of general staff of London District, 1962–63, commander of 19th Infantry Brigade in England and Borneo, 1963–65, director of defense policy at Ministry of Defence, 1966–69, commander of 4th Division of the British Army of the Rhine, 1969–71, assistant chief of defense staff for policy, 1971–73, vice chief of general staff, 1973–75, British military representative to North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Brussels, Belgium, 1975–77, commander of Royal College of Defence Studies, London, 1977–80, retired as general; writer, 1980–. Chairman of Treloar Trust and Governing Body of Lord Mayor Treloar College, 1982–93.
MEMBER: Society for Army Historical Research (president, 1980–93), Turf Club, Pratt's Club.
The Grenadier Guards ("Men-at-Arms" series), illustrated by Angus McBride, Osprey Publishing (London, England), 1978.
Alanbrooke, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1982.
And We Shall Shock Them: The British Army in the Second World War, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1982.
August 1988 (novel), Collins (London, England), 1982.
(Editor) The Christian Watt Papers, Paul Harris (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1983.
The Fortunes of War (novel), Norton (New York, NY), 1983, published as A Kiss for the Enemy, Collins (London, England), 1983.
The Killing Times (novel), Collins (London, England), 1986.
The Dragon's Teeth (novel), Collins (London, England), 1987.
The Seizure (novel), Collins (London, England), 1988.
A Candle for Judas (novel), Collins (London, England), 1989.
In Good Company: The First World War Letters and Diaries of the Hon. William Fraser, Gordon Highlanders, Russell (Salisbury, England), 1990.
The Hardrow Chronicles, Penguin (New York, NY), Volume 1: Adam Hardrow, 1990, Volume 2: Adam in the Breach, 1993.
Codename Mercury (novel), Penguin (New York, NY), 1991.
Knight's Cross: A Life of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1993.
The Pain of Winning, Penguin (New York, NY), 1994.
Will: A Portrait of William Douglas Home, A. Deutsch (London, England), 1995.
Wellington and the Waterloo Campaign, University of Southampton (Southampton, Hampshire, England), 1995.
Frederick the Great: King of Prussia, A. Lane (New York, NY), 2000.
Wars and Shadows: Memoirs of General Sir David Fraser, A. Lane (London, England), 2002.
SIDELIGHTS: David Fraser is a retired British army general who has developed into a successful author, penning ten novels and several biographies since the 1980s. He has gained particular acclaim in the United States for his biographies of Erwin Rommel and Frederick II. Knight's Cross: A Life of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel is about the German military leader who became known as the "Desert Fox" during his World War II campaigns in northern Africa. Rommel had earned a reputation in World War I as a daring, brave, and brilliant soldier, and he was greatly admired and feared during World War II. Although he fought on the side of Hitler, he was known to be apolitical, until he was forced to drink poison by Nazi agents after it was discovered that he had helped in a plot to assassinate Hitler. "Many books have been written about Rommel," commented an Economist reviewer. "None has been more thoroughly researched nor examines his personality and character in more detail than this one." Booklist contributor Gilbert Taylor asserted that "Fraser presents what definitely will become the standard biography … as the author astutely traces the qualities of leadership which Rommel embodied."
Fraser was again praised for his 2000 biography, Frederick the Great: King of Prussia. The book's subject, Frederick II, is sometimes seen by historians only for his militaristic achievements—of which there were many—and as being a forerunner of even more militant expansionists, including Otto von Bismarck and Adolf Hitler. However, as Fraser points out, King Frederick was much more than a great military strategist. He was an artistic man who composed music and wrote verses, and who could name Voltaire as one of his best friends; he was also a great political leader who did much to reform his nation's laws to the benefit of the lower classes. "Frederick was blamed retrospectively for a German demonism he couldn't possibly have envisaged," noted History Today critic John F. Crossland. "This correction of the historical perspective is long overdue." Perhaps because of Fraser's military background, however, the author does tend to stress Frederick's achievements in war. During his reign, Prussia fought four wars to stave off pressures from Russia in the East and the Habsburg dynasties in the West and South, yet he successfully managed to keep Prussia an autonomous state while actually expanding its borders. Frederick's accomplishments thus made his kingdom a major power in Europe. Crossland added that "Fraser is particularly good in his battle sequences but gives us a rounded portrait of a monarch who at the same time could supervise the expansion of his poor country's economy and industry, build architectural jewels like [his castle] Sans Souci, and manage to write almost daily to his friend Voltaire." Barbara Walden added in the Library Journal that "this book will be the standard biography of this fascinating ruler for years to come."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Atlantic Monthly, December, 2002, Benjamin Schwarz, review of Frederick the Great: King of Prussia, p. 128.
Booklist, January 15, 1994, Gilbert Taylor, review of Knight's Cross: The Life of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, p. 896.
Economist, December 4, 1993, review of Knight's Cross, p. 99; April 15, 2000, "Historical Biography," p. 6.
History Today, April, 1984, Christian Hesketh, review of The Christian Watt Papers; January, 1991, Christian Hesketh, review of In Good Company: The First World War Letters and Diaries of the Hon. William Fraser, Gordon Highlanders, p. 61; July, 2000, John F. Crossland, review of Frederick the Great, p. 56.
Library Journal, March 1, 1982, review of Alanbrooke, p. 52; April 1, 1985, Andrea Lee Shuey, review of The Fortunes of War, p. 157; May 15, 2001, Barbara Walden, review of Frederick the Great, p. 134.
Listener, April 22, 1982.
New Statesman, June 4, 1982.
New York Times Book Review, February 24, 1985, Russell F. Weigley, review of And We Shall Shock Them: The British Army in the Second World War, p. 12; March 6, 1994, Alistair Horne, review of Knight's Cross, p. 6.
Observer, May 9, 1982.
Publishers Weekly, January 22, 1982, Genevieve Stuttaford, review of Alanbrooke, p. 52; March 1, 1985, review of The Fortunes of War, p. 71; January 10, 1994, review of Knight's Cross, p. 54; April 30, 2001, review of Frederick the Great, p. 66.
Times Literary Supplement, May 7, 1981.