Fatal Decision: Anzio and the Battle for Rome Paperback – 5 Nov 1992
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`D'Este is a superb military historian, and here he has found a
subject that gives full-scope to his talents'
-- Michael Howard, Times Literary Supplement
`Fatal Decision establishes Carlo D'Este as one of the foremost
modern historians of the Second World War' -- Max Hastings --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Carlo D'Este is a retired lieutenant colonel from the US army, having served in Germany, England and Vietnam. His many books include the acclaimed studies of the Sicily and Normandy campaigns and a biography of General Patton. He lives in Massachusetts --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
The author lays most of the blame for failure at the feet of British Field Marshall Alexander and American General Mark Clark, though many others had a hand in it, including Churchill. But it's the first two who take the bulk of the blame. Alexander comes across as the quintessential gentleman, but a bit of an intellectual lightweight, and devoid of any particular strategic ideas. He didn't put his put down when his decisions were questioned, particularly in relation to Mark Clark. Whilst his diplomatic skills were admittedly essential in dealing with a multi-national force, someone more decisive was needed.
The author also spends much time helping to clear the reputation of Lucas, the American general in command of the Anzio landing forces. Again and again, we see that Lucas could not have succeeded - his force was far too small to do much than hold the beach-head, particularly against the tactically flexible German forces. Anzio was too far away from the main allied line to be supported by it.
Mark Clark comes off worse, though. An unlikeable and extremely vain man, his actions at Anzio and Monte Cassino showed him at his worst. The author roundly condemns Clark for his actions towards the end of the offensive - rather than encircle and crush the German 10th Army, he sped off to Rome to arrange photo shoots and press conferences.
One of the more interesting analyses the author does is of British-American tensions within the allied command.Read more ›
Carlo D'Este is never one to shy away from putting allied leaders under the spotlight and taking apart their decision making with the sort of forensic analysis of the evidence that suggests he missed his vocation as a trial lawyer. Here Churchill, Alexander and Clark get the full D'Este treatment. All are found wanting: Churchill for interfering in strategic military planning with little regard to the realities of the logistical situation; Alexander for being out of his depth and more concerned with maintaining good intra-allied relationships; and Clark for his vanity and poor planning. In the end one can sense the anger in the author at Clark's decision to put his own vain-glory before military expediency.Read more ›
The explanation of the reasons behind Shingle doesn't shed a great deal of further light on the subject - this has been covered in so many written histories and papers that there isn't much new to say (not a criticism of the book or author), but from then on, this work develops into one of the most rounded studies of pretty much any WW2 battle and is by far the best work on Anzio yet written.
His explanation of how each Army fought does a great deal to dispel so much of the sniping that has been written by (admittedly mainly American) authors on the British Infantry conduct in the Beachhead and their 'excessive' losses.
The terrain, the lack of divisions intially slated for the operation, the ferocity of the German response all contribute to subdue such flat arguments about 1st Division's lack of adequate control over the battleground. The tenacity and professionalism of the British Soldier is mentioned time and again and goes to prove how well regarded they should have been to VI Corps command.
Churchill, Alexander and Lucas, all take their fair share of criticism from D'Este, who reserves the most scalding critique for Clark. One gets the impression that the more D'Este learned about Clark's actions the less sense any of the made in the context of fighting and WINNING a war, as opposed to trying to nurture a media celebrity status. Clark's actions bordered on criminally negligent and even his own troops at the time spotted this. Sadly for some, like the gallant Fred Walker, they made too much of an issue of it, whereupon they were removed by Clark.
This is an outstanding piece of work and is THE book for Anzio.