THE HARROWING STORY OF ONE OF HISTORY'S MOST COMPELLING MILITARY CAMPAIGNS
In An Army at Dawn -- winner of the Pulitzer Prize -- Rick Atkinson provided a dramatic and authoritative history of the Allied triumph in North Africa. Now, in The Day of Battle, he follows the American and British armies as they invade Sicily in July 1943, attack Italy two months later, and then fight their way, mile by bloody mile, north toward Rome.
The Italian campaign's outcome was never certain; in fact, President Roosevelt, Prime Minister Churchill and their military advisors bitterly debated whether an invasion of the so-called soft underbelly of Europe was even wise. But once underway, the commitment to liberate Italy from the Nazis never wavered, despite the agonizing price. The battles at Salerno, Anzio, the Rapido River, and Cassino were particularly ferocious and lethal, yet as the months passed, the Allied forces continued to drive the Germans up the Italian peninsula. Led by Lieutenant General Mark W. Clark, among the war's most complex and controversial commanders, American troops became increasingly determined and proficient. With the liberation of Rome in June 1944, ultimate victory in Europe at last began to seem inevitable.
Drawing on extensive new material from a wide array of primary sources, and written with great drama and flair, The Day of Battle is narrative history of the first rank.
Amazon Best of the Month, November 2007: Topping a Pulitzer Prize-winning effort is tough; finding originality in a World War II narrative is even tougher. Yet Rick Atkinson accomplishes both with The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944. His previous work, An Army at Dawn, won the 2003 Pulitzer in history, but Atkinson has managed to set the bar even higher with his second installment in "The Liberation Trilogy." He descends upon each battlefield with rich historical perspective, tactical analysis, and chilling frontline observations. Cocksure Hollywood bravado is sparse, as Atkinson depicts soldiers fighting for honor, not glory. "We did it because we could not bear the shame of being less than the man beside us," explains one soldier's diary. "We fought because he fought; we died because he died." The result is an incredible portrayal of the courage, sorrow, and determination that came to define our greatest generation. --Dave Callanan