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Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars

on 29 August 2017
We really didn't need the Nazis when we had the kind of scum who were willing to crap on our troops the way these "officers" did. The more I read of the background to the fighting, the more contempt I develop for the class-ridden attitudes of the military establishment and their political cronies. This is a well-researched account of events which should have been handled so differently but, unsurprisingly, weren't.
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on 20 August 2017
Detailed account of a little known incident which warrants much more publicity in the history of the Italian campaign and in particular the activities of the British Army.
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on 20 August 2017
Excellent read
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on 6 January 2013
Just goes to show it was a miracle that we won the war when the top brass had not changed much from the brass of the first war , lions led by donkeys
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on 16 August 2017
Excellent service
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on 8 July 2015
I had no awareness of the Salerno Mutiny until I read this book; it is a riveting, compelling story, well told, based on very detailed research and it is so, so sad.
It is about something I have seen happening in large organisations: it starts with some confusion, this is compounded by some incompetence, then lies, deceit and cover ups are piled on top, until a point is reached at which the way forward for all parties is set in stone and the would be innocents (and, in this case, heroes) suffer.
The way things were handled prior to 20.09.43 was disgraceful and somebody should have stepped in and acted to avoid the problem; the way things were handled on 20.09.43 was disgraceful and somebody should have got off his ego, switched his brain on and found a way around the final confrontation; the way things were handled and the mutineers were treated after 20.09.43 was disgraceful.
After the events of 20.09.43, I feel that things were set in stone - the Army had to act (pour encourager les autres), the charge had to be mutiny (because of the number of refusniks involved) and the verdict had to be "guilty"; but the sentences did not have to be as they were and the subsequent treatment of the convicted did not have to be as it was.
My direct experience of the law includes wide involvement in Industrial Tribunals - in an IT, the tribunal is entitled to ignore the evidence to an extent and infer what was said at, say, a management meeting or in a conversation between employees, because the evidence and witness testimony cannot be relied on to give the full or even an accurate picture; I see great similarities between ITs and Courts Martial; contrary to Mr David, I think that the Court Martial was entitled to infer that there had been conversations between the defendants prior to 20.09.43 in which they agreed to act in concert and, thus, mutiny, for example: if A, B and C are sitting in a group and A states that: "if I'm ordered to do such and such, I will refuse" then B and C say that: "in that case, we're with you and we will refuse as well", they are acting in concert; I think that the Court Martial was entitled to determine that, when it got to the parade of 20.09.43, the defendants were acting in concert.
I think that, on the balance of probability, there was mutiny (I do not understand why the defence and Mr Saul laboured the point as to whether there were one or two mutinies but think that this is irrelevant), I think that the correct charge was mutiny (regardless of the circumstances giving rise to it - this all took place during a war and in a theatre of war) and that the correct verdict was guilty.
I do not think that the mutiny should have been allowed to happen, I do not think that the sentences were correct, I do not think that mitigating circumstances were properly taken into account in sentencing and I do not think that the subsequent treatment of the convicted was correct.
I cannot decide if the convicted should be pardoned but I do feel that they are entitled to a huge apology and reinstatement of their medals, honours and reputations.
If I could, I would have given this book 4.5 stars, because of one thing: whilst generally very well written, I felt that Mr David fell into the Creative Writing 101 bit, giving pen pictures of various people involved, which I found to distract from the flow of the real story; this starts on the second page of the prologue with: "....Lieutenant Ted Everett, a decent, moustachioed officer...." - it is very clear from further in the book that Everett was one of a small number of decent officers involved in this disgraceful affair but I was left to agonise over whether Everett was decent because he was moustachioed, whether his moustache was a sign of decency, whether Everett was exceptional among the ranks of the decent in being moustachioed or whether Everett was exceptional among the ranks of the moustachioed in being decent - in the course of the book, we have three "moustachioed" and six "moustache" - I think this might be a bit of fixation of Mr David's.
In the Creative Writing 101 mould, there are descriptions of various characters, which are completely irrelevant to and get in the way of the story - whilst the physical condition of the accused is relevant in some cases, eg: to show how ill they were or to show what a deleterious effect the whole thing had on them, the appearance of the other players is not, even if they look like Quasimodo and are dressed in pink tutus and green silk knickers; this detracts from the important stuff, ie: what they say, what they do, what their rational is and what their motivation is.
Overall, I think this is a great book and is well worth a read.
One question: why did Montgomery not intervene and sort this out?
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on 22 October 2013
Saul David's book is an account of a disgraceful episode from WWII. I don't think his book is impartial, but neither does it prevent the reader from reaching their own conclusion. Regardless, this is an event that probably requires a wider audience. It is all too easy, in hindsight, to look back seventy years and try to place today's viewpoint on events then. There was, after all, a war going on. Should the men have disobeyed orders? Probably not. Should lesser charges have been brought? Probably yes. Does anyone really come out of this sad episode well? I have my opinion. Saul David has his. It isn't black and white, but life isn't like that. But whatever your conclusion, I think you'll find that these were invariably good men crushed within a system that should have treated them with greater leniency. A case for Pardon? I'll leave you to decide.
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on 19 March 2013
The biggest shortcoming of this book was it was written to support the wrong preconceived conclusion. The facts set out establish beyond a reasonable doubt that mutiny occurred. It is impossible to accept that more than 200 experienced soldiers who were together from 14 to 20 September at a split parade on that last day spontaneously decided to disobey an order to join new units and go to the front. Obviously they had decided in advance to defy the orders. It was more than a breakdown in militay discipline; it was a collective defiance of authority. There was no need for ringleaders, but proper leadership might have avoided the mutiny. The reasons for the defiance(whether in wartime or peace) are irrelevant. The real issues are firstly how it could have been prevented and who failed to prevent it, and secondly whether the actions taken afterwards were the correct ones, especially the charge of mutiny. It is a pity the book glossed over those real issues and sought to establish innocence. Do I feel sorry for those convicted and sentenced, yes I do for that should not have happened. Do I feel that those in command who failed these soldiers should have been held to account, yes I do. That is the great injustice of Salerno.
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on 30 August 2017
I was unaware that there had been a mutiny at Salerno and as I'm interested in military history, I bought the book. It is pretty thoroughly researched (to my layman's eyes anyway), but I concluded at the end of reading the book that the author was trying to defend the indefensible. Was it 'mutiny' or 'insubordination'? The reader will have to judge that for themselves, but to my 'layman's eyes' if a senior officer gives a reasonable order on 3 separate occasions and you and your colleagues decide, separately or collectively to disobey it, the authorities would want to make an example of you,particularly in wartime, if nothing else to deter others who might also think of flouting authority. The after-effects of this sorry state of affairs still rumble on, 70-odd years after the event.
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on 11 December 2012
Saul David recounts an important series of events during WWII. I was engaged reading about the brave veterans who were were lied to and sent not back to their units but into action in Salerno. It was one of the most shameful episodes of the war, and an injustice the book goes at least some way to redress. A very important read for historians and WWII enthusiasts alike. David's brilliant access and use of primary sources to uncover the truth of this episode, make reading about the mutiny all the more haunting and real.
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