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Bitter Victory illuminates a chapter of World War II that has lacked a balanced, full-scale treatment until now. In recounting the second-largest amphibious operation in military history, Carlo D'Este for the first time reveals the conflicts in planning and the behind-the-scenes quarrels between top Allied commanders. The book explodes the myth of the Patton-Montgomery rivalry and exposes how Alexander's inept generalship nearly wrecked the campaign. D'Este documents in chilling detail the series of savage battles fought against an overmatched but brilliant foe and how the Germans—against overwhelming odds—carried out one of the greatest strategic withdrawals in history. His controversial narrative depicts for the first time how the Allies bungled their attempt to cut off the Axis retreat from Sicily, turning what ought to have been a great triumph into a bitter victory that later came to haunt the Allies in Italy.

Using a wealth of original sources, D'Este paints an unforgettable portrait of men at war. From the front lines to the councils of the Axis and Allied high commands, Bitter Victory offers penetrating reassessments of the men who masterminded the campaign. Thrilling and authoritative, this is military history on an epic scale.

Published: HarperCollins on Jun 2, 2009
ISBN: 9780061940811
List price: $10.99
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The current go-to title about the Sicily campaign from a US perspective is probably Rick Atkinson's Day of Battle, which I have yet to read. Carlo D'Este's book about Sicily follows the classic commander's and officer's perspective paradigm, a study in leadership and (lack of) strategy. The Mediterranean theater allowed the American generals and forces to slowly level up against a limited number of opponents and on non-strategic ground. Often, the American forces had to endure higher friendly casualties than those caused by the enemy. The USAAF bombed anything that moved, the Navy pummeled the Allied gliders and planes with incessant flak. Fortunately,. the US 7th army and the British 8th army faced only four German divisions on the island of Sicily, which could have been trapped by ingenious generalship. Unfortunately, Allied generalship was mediocre. D'Este is especially harsh on Harold Alexander who looked like a general but created a strategic and intellectual vacuum - quickly filled but not constrained by the theater's two prime donne Monty and Patton.Monty's strong beginning quickly turned into a futile war of attrition in Eastern Sicily. Patton, meanwhile, went on a senseless goose chase in Western Sicily (conquering Palermo) that sent his troops away from the Germans. As D'Este points out, a better plan would have been to follow up the invasion of Sicily with a second one in Calabria, thus bottling up the German divisions on the island. The Allies did much worse: In a masterful operation, the Germans managed to evacuate all of their forces (and some Italians), with hardly any Allied intervention. Thus the title "Bitter victory", as apart from headlines and a poverty-stricken island, the Allies gained little more than experience (although the subsequent landings in Italy weren't showcases for lessons learned).Overall, an interesting well-written account of the campaign that suffers a bit from German and Italian input. D'Este's unfamiliarity with German shows, for instance, on page 203 where he explains to his American readers that the German term for "one hell of a mess" is "Riesenauri", which is patent nonsense. The word he probably had in mind is "Riesensauerei", one of many, many German pork-based expressions of disapproval (Sauhaufen, Saustall, Schweinerei, Schweinehund, ...). Raising pigs was big business for the sausage mad Germans. Today, incidentally, it is Denmark that rules Europe's pig production.read more
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The current go-to title about the Sicily campaign from a US perspective is probably Rick Atkinson's Day of Battle, which I have yet to read. Carlo D'Este's book about Sicily follows the classic commander's and officer's perspective paradigm, a study in leadership and (lack of) strategy. The Mediterranean theater allowed the American generals and forces to slowly level up against a limited number of opponents and on non-strategic ground. Often, the American forces had to endure higher friendly casualties than those caused by the enemy. The USAAF bombed anything that moved, the Navy pummeled the Allied gliders and planes with incessant flak. Fortunately,. the US 7th army and the British 8th army faced only four German divisions on the island of Sicily, which could have been trapped by ingenious generalship. Unfortunately, Allied generalship was mediocre. D'Este is especially harsh on Harold Alexander who looked like a general but created a strategic and intellectual vacuum - quickly filled but not constrained by the theater's two prime donne Monty and Patton.Monty's strong beginning quickly turned into a futile war of attrition in Eastern Sicily. Patton, meanwhile, went on a senseless goose chase in Western Sicily (conquering Palermo) that sent his troops away from the Germans. As D'Este points out, a better plan would have been to follow up the invasion of Sicily with a second one in Calabria, thus bottling up the German divisions on the island. The Allies did much worse: In a masterful operation, the Germans managed to evacuate all of their forces (and some Italians), with hardly any Allied intervention. Thus the title "Bitter victory", as apart from headlines and a poverty-stricken island, the Allies gained little more than experience (although the subsequent landings in Italy weren't showcases for lessons learned).Overall, an interesting well-written account of the campaign that suffers a bit from German and Italian input. D'Este's unfamiliarity with German shows, for instance, on page 203 where he explains to his American readers that the German term for "one hell of a mess" is "Riesenauri", which is patent nonsense. The word he probably had in mind is "Riesensauerei", one of many, many German pork-based expressions of disapproval (Sauhaufen, Saustall, Schweinerei, Schweinehund, ...). Raising pigs was big business for the sausage mad Germans. Today, incidentally, it is Denmark that rules Europe's pig production.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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