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.
Atkinson surpasses his Pulitzer-winning An Army at Dawn in this empathetic, perceptive analysis of the second stage in the U.S. Army's grassroots development from well-intentioned amateurs to the most formidable fighting force of World War II. The battles in Sicily and Italy developed the combat effectiveness and the emotional hardness of a U.S. Army increasingly constrained to bear the brunt of the Western allies' war effort, he argues. Demanding terrain, harsh climate and a formidable opponent confirmed the lesson of North Africa: the only way home was through the Germans: kill or be killed. Atkinson is pitilessly accurate demonstrating the errors and misjudgments of senior officers, Field Marshal Sir Harold Alexander, Gen. Mark Clark and their subordinates commanding corps and divisions. The price was paid in blood by the men at the sharp end: British and French, Indians and North Africans above all, Americans. All that remained of the crew of one burned-out tank were the fillings of their teeth, for one example. The Mediterranean campaign is frequently dismissed by soldiers and scholars as a distraction from the essential objective of invading northern Europe. Atkinson makes a convincing case that it played a decisive role in breaking German power, forcing the Wehrmacht onto a defensive it could never abandon.
Best of its class
I have read several books by this author and it ranks among the best I have ever read . As a professional soldier I can say his work excels at letting the reader see the decisions and how they affected the personality of the conflict . Lots of authors try and give the strategic view then vignettes of the " man at front " experience and very few have the ability to blend it together . This author does . He's very good at bringing these people to life - the pivotal figures and the and the regular people as well . I've read a lot professionally and for the enjoyment on these subjects and in my opinion these are stand alone history's of the us army in World War Two . Reads like fiction actually but these events really happened . He really got me on the other level too . His first book ; " an army at dawn " . His beginning - I had to stop reading for a moment when he talks of the cemetery - " 16 of saddest words in the human language " . I can't say enough . I've read both of these twice and am waiting with out much patience for the 3rd installment .
His first - " An army at dawn " - I give a 9.5 out of 10 .
The second - " Day of Battle " - I give the same , 9.5 out of 10 .
I read a lot too . Last stand of the tin can sailors - a time for trumpets - Alamo in the Ardennes - the green mountain boys - etc.
And his ranks among the very top of the class . Beats Tom Brokaw any day and dare I say - Ambrose . Band of Brothers was top shelf but these stand right there with it . Of course - all my humble opinion .
The Day of Battle
This is the second book of a trilogy. A spectacular blow by blow accounting of the invasion of Europe through Sicily and up the boot of Italy all the way to the capture of Rome. If you're into an in-depth read on WWII, you'll definitely be satisfied with this volume. You'll want to dive right into the third volume once you've conquered the first two.