I've come across the suggestion that the reputation afforded Rommel by the British - as some sort of super-human figure - was an artificial construct, a political ploy. Basically an attempt to draw criticism away from the Eighth Army's rather bad performance in North Africa by emphasising Rommel's brilliance as a military commander, while simultaneously setting the stage for the media field-day that was Monty's victory at El Alamein - all the greater because it was Rommel he beat.
My own tentative conclusion is that Rommel was an effective military commander - his reputation wasn't completely undeserved. But it certainly seems as though there was something else at play - there were other competent and charasmatic German military commanders scattered about; why latch onto Rommel with such fervour? Surely it wasn't simply that Churchill was being 'sporting'.
It seems that Rommel was poster boy for both sides - not only for his own government's propoganda machine (drawing the German public's attention away from a Russian campaign that wasn't the cake-walk expected), but for his enemies as well. Where the British were concerned, it seems to have had a distinctly political lean to it.
Does anybody know of any extensive scholarship to do with this debate? Like I said, I've found it mentioned in numerous places, but nothing of much substance. If you know of any books/articles (preferably peer-reviewed, scholarly sources), I would really like to know. In fact, anything written about the military/political dichotomy in the context of the British in North Africa during WW2 would be fantastic!