Most histories of World War II focus on North Africa, then the Sicily
and Italy invasions by the Allies. But after the fall of Rome a few days before D-Day, they focus on the Normandy invasions and the push through France to Germany. There was a lot of Italy left, and the Allies forces there held down several German armies, keeping them away from the Russian and D-Day fronts.
James Holland’s 539 page history of the war in Italy from 1944-1945, Italy’s Sorrow: A Year of War 1944-1945, documents not only the Allies and German armies and their battles, but the struggles of the Italian citizens, partisans, remaining fascist government and reforming Italian armies.
Italy at the time faced civil war, two Armies (first the retreating Germans, then the advancing Allies) consuming all the food and resources leaving little for the citizens, a fragmented leadership with mixed messages, and the pure devastation of war (where it sometimes seems only Rome and Florence were spared). It is truly amazing the country has survived.
This in-depth history is presented in four sections: (more…)
Volume Two of the Liberation Trilogy (from the invasion of Sicily in July 1943 to the fall of Rome just before D-Day, June 1944) (review of Advanced Reader Copy)
Another triumphant book from the Pulitzer prize winning author
The Day of Battle is an excellent follow-up to An Army At Dawn, covering the often overlooked, extremely bloody and costly campaign in Italy. Again Mr. Atkinson uses a variety of sources to turn history into a smooth flowing story, including viewpoints from generals and soldiers alike.
Several topics stand out in Mr. Atkinson’s writing: (more…)
World War II has always held a fascination for me: the global scale, the impact on world politics and powers of today, the coming of Age of the United States as a super power, the thoughts of what could have been had certain decisions or battles gone one way or the other (see Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle or many of the other alternative history novels to get your imagination going). Over the years, I have read many books, including the great John Keegan’s, Cornelius Ryan’s and a 25 volume Encyclopedia of WWII that my mom got me for Christmas as a kid (no, I am not kidding).
I received The Day of Battle (the 2nd in Atkinson’s Liberation Trilogy) as an ARC at BEA, but wanted to read the series in order.
I am very glad that I did. Operation TORCH, the battles of Kasserine, Sidi Bou Zid, the taking of Bizerte and Tunis are told as stories from the perspectives of leaders and soldiers, based on meticulous research detailed in over 100 pages of notes. An Army At Dawn is a great representation of the grisly and personal nature of war, a fitting history of the men and women who fought in WWII. (more…)
5 stars: Fluidly written, well researched, a story sometimes forgotten that should never be ignored.
Bataan Diary is the true story of Major Frank Loyd and his wife Evelyn. Stationed in Bataan in the Philippines at the beginning of World War II they are separated by the impending Japanese invasion, with Evelyn going home to the United States and Frank staying to fight.
They were separated for almost four years.
Chris Schaefer rebuilt their story from diaries that Frank hid while he was behind enemy lines, Evelyns diaries and letters, interviews and meticulous research. He writes a riveting story of survival, as Frank evades capture, faces malaria, starvation, desperation and dispair, while planning and awaiting General Douglas MacAuthur’s eminent return. Evelyn’s story is almost as difficult, as she has no news of Frank, not knowing if he is captured, dead or alive.
Schaefer tells their story against the backdrop of the events in the Philippines under Japanese occupation and the larger story of the overall War in the Pacific. Describing the native Filipinos, Japanese atrocities, American bravery and indecision, Schaefer paints neither hero or goat, but lets his research tell the story.
A well put-together, well researched book, who’s writing is well paced, Bataan Diary is recommended for those interested in history, war, survival and stories that show what man is capable of.