Top positive review
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A well-researched, intelligent and thought-provoking history
on 27 July 2004
This book deals with the Italian Campaign, from its beginnings mired in confusion, to the bitter struggles that gained the Allied forces yard after slow yard in central Italy, to the climatic, but empty, victory at Cassino, which cost 200,000 people their lives or health. Parker is very in touch with the soldier on the ground, and shows us their plight in intimate, frightening detail, often following the lives of several soldiers during the whole course of the campaign, giving us a detailed view of what each single infantryman or soldier had to suffer just to survive, never mind fight, in such an inhospitable place. Parker shows us the bravery of the Allied soldiers, and also the steadfast guts and intelligence of the Germans.
I have also read John Ellis' 'Hollow Victory' on the same subject, and, in comparison to Parker's book, Ellis is more concerned with allocating blame to the various Allied commanders who lead their soldiers so pitifully, and let petty squabbles get in the way of good strategy, but is perhaps less in touch with the single soldier's plight on the ground. Parker, I feel, gave a much better impression of what the 'Poor Bloody Infantry' suffered. Ellis gives us a more impressive view of the grand strategy behind the campaign, and also better describes the battles after Cassino, while Parker simply alludes to them. Parker tells us how it all lead up to Cassino though, so you can see the two books in many cases complement each other well, and for a complete understanding of this battle I would recommend first reading Parker's work, then Ellis'.
Both, individually, however, are very good histories, detailing a very long, very bitter, very hard-fought and hugely costly battle in a long, bitter war.
I would thoroughly recommend this book, especially for those who believe the Second World War was somehow 'easier' than the First. If you want to get as good an impression of war as you can from words and script, this book will show you.