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Monte Cassino: The Hardest-Fought Battle of World War II

4.03  ·  Rating Details  ·  223 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
Monte Cassino is the true story of one of the bitterest and bloodiest of the Allied struggles against the Nazi army. Long neglected by historians, the horrific conflict saw over 350,000 casualties, while the worst winter in Italian memory and official incompetence and backbiting only worsened the carnage and turmoil. Combining groundbreaking research in military archives w ...more
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published June 1st 2004 by Doubleday (first published 2003)
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Sep 14, 2014 Hudson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another educational and entertaining read from Matthew Parker, I really can't say enough good things about this guy.

Monte Cassino was one of the bloodiest battles of the war but it had the misfortune of taking place right before D-Day and was thus overshadowed by the historic mainland Europe landing. A soldier's song dripping with sarcasm addresses this:

"We are the D-Day dodgers, out in Italy
Always on the vino, always on the spree
Eighth Army skivers and the Yanks
We go to war, it ties like swanks
Jan 08, 2013 Bruce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ww2-history
Monte Cassino, The Hardest Fought Battle of World War II by Matthew Parker
First Anchor Edition, May 2005
414 pages with maps and pictures

My son loaded me up with books from my wish list for Christmas 2011 and I finally got around to reading the last one around Christmas time 2012. The last one was Monte Cassino, The Hardest Battle of World War II by Matthew Parker.

In some ways it was the best for last.

The book begins with an outline of the Italian Campaign strategy that led to the epic Battle(s)
Mar 29, 2008 Travis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People interested in History and World War 2
Some of the most brutal fighting had to have occurred here in Italy. This is a great read, for those interested in history, war, World War 2, or any combination of those three. Following the infantry grunt, this book takes you through their misery, unable to dig in on the rocky hillsides, and taking some really heavy casualties. Western Europe seems to get all the WW2 hype, but Italy had some of the most brutal fighting of the War too. I didn't know anything about this part of the campaign to fr ...more
Daniel Etherington
An impressive account of the battle(s) of Monte Cassino, named after the ancient monastary that loomed over the Allied troops as they tried to fight their way up the leg of Italy after the 1943 landings at Salerno and the Italian armistace.

Through interviews with an varied selection of veterans - including Germans, Brits, French, North Africans, USAmericans, Canadians, Gurkas, New Zealanders, infantry, engineers, artillery etc - and even civilians, as well as through other historical documents,
Nov 18, 2015 Ben rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some books jump to the top of my 'to read' list as soon as I open them. This, loaned by a good friend, was definitely in that category - it might be because the D-Day Dodgers song appears near the beginning! It's told with such clarity and fluency that you rip through 400pp in a couple of days. Monte Cassino lasted 5 months and was a sprawling battle, by many measures the biggest of the war, and considered by many on the German side to be worse than Stalingrad. It was also an incredible combinat ...more
Roy Szweda
Jul 17, 2015 Roy Szweda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ww2
A tough read about the "tough old gut".... I read quite a lot of WW1 books and sometimes during this account I thought I was back there. So much for all the advances in three decades!
I knew a fair bit about this part of the war despite it being overshadowed by other campaigns especially D-Day that came soon after the fall of Rome. But this book really opens your eyes to the ferocity of warfare in WW2. It is saddening reading through one failure after another... and then the usual boasting of ho
Oct 22, 2014 Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So I have now carried out my Father's dying wishes and visited the scene of his baptism of fire as an artillery officer in the British Army, aged just 23. He spoke very seldom about the horror he had witnessed but there was this Gurkha knife, called a 'Kukhri' that he kept under lock and key and would only get out on rare occasions when pressed to do so, and he told me and my two brothers that a Gurkha soldier, once he had drawn his knife, ( more like a small scimitar sword) that he would draw b ...more
Kenneth Barber
Feb 20, 2016 Kenneth Barber rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book details the six month battle for Monte Cassino in Italy during WW11. This city was important because it stood along the best route to Rome. The allied force consisted of the US fifth army under Gen Mark Clark and the British 8 th army. The British army contained units from New Zealand, India and Africa. There were also French and Polish battalions. This battle was reminiscent of the trench warfare of the First World War. It was extremely hard fought and casualties were high on both sid ...more
Feb 25, 2009 Anna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
One of the bloodiest and the toughest battles in World War II. It lasted nearly four months and caused over 350,000 casualties before finally on sunrise of May 18 the Cracovian Hymn (Hejnał Mariacki) announced that Polish troops captured the monastery. The Battle of Monte Cassino is often neglected cause the Normandy invasion started two weeks later. Well written.
Jun 07, 2014 Lindasp rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting detail of the 6 month long battle to take Monte Cassino, Italy by the Allies in 1943-44. The maps showing how each of the 4 battles to the take the mountainous area were very helpful as were the interviews with verterans on both sides. The conditions that winter were horrendous and the mistakes made by the Allied leaders made the battles seem so disastrous for the soldiers. It had to be done but surely there could have been better ways to do it with less senseless loss of life o ...more
Rich Martin
Nov 06, 2008 Rich Martin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't like this title much - was it tougher than Stalingrad?
But this is an excellent book about what Churchill thought would be the "soft underbelly" of Europe and instead was a "tough old gut."
Ask GIs who were in Italy and they'll tell you the commanders weren't worth much. It was definitely fubar.
My dad was there in the Army Air Force. He thought his unit's officers were great, but the generals in charge were worthless.
The landings at Anzio and Salerno were messed up and could have been cata
John Welsh
May 03, 2016 John Welsh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent. Not only is it lucid and informative in its descriptions of the campaign, it is also elegantly-written and, in the end, very moving.
Jun 13, 2012 Greg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just the right detail to get an overview of this monumental battle. Personal recollections blended with the author's narrative really brought the events to life. Combine this with Atkinson's "Day of Battle" and you will have a vivid account of the Italian Campaign and its horrors. With much of the post-war historical analysis lavisihed on the D-Day landings (and rightly so), its equally important to honor the brave men (on both sides of the battle lines) who fought their way up "the boot".
Jan Charvát
What a story of a great battle to be told. Unfortunately, author fails as good narrative historian, story unwraps slowly with too much of unimportant details (like exact placement of each soldier in the chain of command down to almost a squad level). Book has few good moments but overally, I was disappointed and I will keep looking for another book about Monte Cassino.
Oct 05, 2011 Virre rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: military-history
Educational and a quick insight to the full Italian campaign and the horrors of the misstakes around both Cassino and Anzio from all sides. Also insightfull to see how at least in the writers view both the Brittish and the Americans was way over there level and how the Anzac and French troops was underused.
Feb 06, 2008 Samuel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Military History buffs
Shelves: military-history
Great recounting of what went on in the waning days of the war, the ferocity of battle and resistance of the German military despite what looked like a war already lost.
Mike Killingley
Dec 09, 2014 Mike Killingley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Outstanding. Moving account, including much first-hand testimony, of the folly of this most brutal and futile series of battles.
James McKenna
Mar 24, 2013 James McKenna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book telling the true story of WW2 hardest battle.
pretty interesting book
Frank Pleszak
Good book
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I'm currently working on a new book, due to be published in August 2015, that tells the extraordinary story of Willoughbyland, the forgotten seventeenth-century English colony in Suriname that was exchanged with the Dutch for New York.

When not reading, writing or staring out of the window, I love making sushi, pubs, growing stuff and visiting remote places.

I'm a member of the Authors Cricket Club,
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