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Monte Cassino: The Story of the Hardest-fought Battle of World War Two Paperback – 2 Aug 2004
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"[An] exemplary, heartbreaking book." -"The Washington Post" "Monte Cassino [was] perhaps the most interesting campaign of all. . . . [A] moving and well-researched book." --"The Economist" "Few people today realize that British and American soldiers fought in a battle that compares to Stalingrad for human suffering." Monte Cassino" is a fitting tribute: an important and beautifully written book, told with real understanding and pathos." -"Daily Telegraph" "One of the true epics of infantry war in World War II.... A gripping story of incompetence, courage, cowardice and almost every other human emotion that war can excite." -"Irish Independent" "Deeply felt. . . . A fine book on a heartbreaking tragedy." -"Irish Times" "An excellent account of the hardest fighting carried out by the Western allies." -"The Independent on Sunday" "Good accounts have been written of the battle before, but none has managed to convey the sheer awfulness of fighting with quite the same success. . . . Parker has produced a deeply moving, richly detailed, and fast-paced account of the most infamous British battle of the Second World War." -"Sunday Telegraph" "A careful reconstruction of the Allied campaign. . . . An accomplished study." -"Kirkus Reviews" "Parker captures the heroism, horror, and sheer brutality of a battle that rivals Stalingrad for savagery. . . . An outstanding chronicle illustrating both valor and futility." -"Booklist" "Parker captures the horrific nature of the combat. . . . An oustanding example of military history, Parkers' study is of the same caliber as John Ellis's masterpiece, Cassion: The Hollow Victory, and should be in every World War IIcollection." -"Library Journal"
The compelling account of one of the most ferocious and costly battles of World War Two, including interviews with hundreds of veterans who have never spoken publicly beforeSee all Product description
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Eventually it was the General Anders Polish 2nd Corps which was deployed and tasked with the job of taking the mountain.
In spite of Allied double dealing behind the Poles backs with Stalin and spurious attacks against them in the British parliament and press by Left wing and communist sympathisers or agents, the Polish units gallantly fought the German forces and eventually succeeded in capturing the mountain after the German's under pressure withdrew.
Matthew Parker's excellent account of the allies' four attempts to break the Gustav Line goes a long way to put the reader into the hell of these battles. When you read as much military history as I do then you do develop a certain emotional immunity to reels of casualty statistics. The author has been able to bring together numerous very moving firsthand accounts, principally of the front line infantry and engineers, and weave these into a clear and coherent narrative of the battle. This is one of the few books that have left me almost shell shocked, even to the extent of deliberately picking non-military related book to read next.
The author doesn't engage a great deal of debate about the strategy of the campaign and the handling of the battles, although there is sufficient to give the events proper context. This is history told from the ground up whether it be the exposed boulder strewn mountain tops or the flooded river valleys below. Parker is critical of the allied generals' performance but this is no polemic aimed at putting Clark or Alexander in the dock.
If you get a chance to visit the Cassino battlefield then do take it. The views from Monte Cassino are stunning as is the restored monastery. For those interested in the battle and those who fought and suffered there then I would highly recommend reading this work before a visit even at the expense of the sadness it will provoke.