The three most important parts of a book are: a well constructed plot, compelling characters, and a satisfying conclusion.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

THE DAY OF BATTLE: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944 (World War II Liberation Trilogy #2) By Rick Atkinson

The Day of Battle by Rick AtkinsonPublisher:  Henry Holt & Co.
Publication Date:  October 2007
Pages:  816
Genre:  American History

Reviewed by WC

Book Description: "NEW YORK TIMES" BESTSELLER In the second volume of his epic trilogy about the liberation of Europe in World War II, Pulitzer Prize winner Rick Atkinson tells the harrowing story of the campaigns in Sicily and Italy In "An Army at Dawn"--winner of the Pulitzer Prize--Rick Atkinson provided a dramatic and authoritative history of the Allied triumph in North Africa. Now, in "The Day of Battle," he follows the strengthening American and British armies as they invade Sicily in July 1943 and then, mile by bloody mile, fight their way north toward Rome.
The Italian campaign's outcome was never certain; in fact, Roosevelt, Churchill, and their military advisers engaged in heated debate about whether an invasion of the so-called soft underbelly of Europe was even a good idea. But once under way, the commitment to liberate Italy from the Nazis never wavered, despite the agonizingly high price. The battles at Salerno, Anzio, and Monte Cassino were particularly difficult and lethal, yet as the months passed, the Allied forces continued to drive the Germans up the Italian peninsula. Led by Lieutenant General Mark Clark, one of the war's most complex and controversial commanders, American officers and soldiers became increasingly determined and proficient. And with the liberation of Rome in June 1944, ultimate victory at last began to seem inevitable.
Drawing on a wide array of primary source material, written with great drama and flair, this is narrative history of the first rank. With "The Day of Battle," Atkinson has once again given us the definitive account of one of history's most compelling military campaigns.

WC's Review:  To say that no war in American history ever went well is an understatement. The allied effort in the Mediterranean portrayed in this extensive study of World War II verifies that military acumen and tactical maneuvering had not improved much since the day of the smooth bored musket. It is truly a wonder the Americans, the British, smatterings of Canadians, Poles, and French pulled off the liberation of Sicily and Italy. The invasion of Italy, and the advance on Rome, nearly proved to be beyond the capabilities of the Allied forces against the the Panzer division under Nazi General Kesselring.

Of course it may have been helpful if US General Patton hadn't slapped two soldiers around and been relieved during the Sicilian campaign. Lieutenant General Mark Clark, head of operations, had too much to handle coordinating the American troops and was nearly done in by the recalcitrance and smug independence of General Montgomery of the British Eighth Army.

This massive volume is an excellent investigation into the thoughts and motivations of the principals, particularly Clark and the always opportunistic Kesselring. Highly recommended for history buffs who strive for an intense understanding of America's involvement in a foreign war.

Rick AtkinsonThe Author:  Rick Atkinson - Born in Munich, in the Federal Republic of Germany, Atkinson is the son of a U.S. Army officer and grew up on military posts. He holds a master of arts degree in English literature from the University of Chicago. He is the best-selling author of The Long Gray Line, a narrative account about West Point’s class of 1966;Crusade, a narrative history of the Persian Gulf War; and An Army at Dawn , the first volume in the Liberation Trilogy, a narrative history of the American Army in North Africa, Italy, and Western Europe during the Second World War. 

His book about the 101st Airborne Division in Iraq, In the Company of Soldiers , was published in March 2004. The second volume of the Liberation Trilogy, The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944, was published in Oct. 2007. 

Atkinson’s awards include the 1982 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting; the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for public service, awarded to The Post for a series of investigative articles directed and edited by Atkinson on shootings by the District of Columbia police department; the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for history, the 1989 George Polk Award for national reporting, the 2007 Gerald R. Ford Award for Distinguished Reporting on National Defense, and the 2010 Pritzker Military Literature Award for lifetime achievement in military writing. He has also served as the Gen. Omar N. Bradley Chair of Strategic Leadership at the U.S. Army War College, where he remains an adjunct faculty member.

He and his wife, Dr. Jane C. Atkinson, a researcher and clinician at the National Institutes of Health, live in the District of Columbia. They have two grown children.