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Ortona: Canada's Epic World War Ii Battle (Canadian Battle #1)

4.17  ·  Rating Details ·  111 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
The epic story of the average soldier -- with little or no military training prior to the outbreak of World War II -- following the gruelling, twisting path towards the prize of Rome. Personal interviews with surviving veterans bring to life the slugging match fought street by street and house by house among the boobytrapped ruins of Ortona. A detailed account of the class ...more
Hardcover, 443 pages
Published November 27th 1999 by Stoddart (first published October 1st 1999)
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Recommended for anyone with a serious interest in the Italian campaign and Canadian ground operations in Italy/Europe.

Mark Zuehlke's books on Canadian ground operations during WWII are, in my opinion, some of the most important books to have been published in recent years from a Canadian military history standpoint. Except for Stacey's official history, I am not aware of any specific work dealing with the battle of Ortona (except regimental histories).

Zuehlke's detailed account of the battle,
Don Thompson
Apr 28, 2014 Don Thompson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My uncle fought in the Black Watch and I had another family member who had been in Sicily but for some strange reason I had not known about the Canadian forces who had fought in Italy. Years ago when I was working a summer job to pay for College I worked with a Canadian Vet who had been in Sicily and then Italy. He referred to himself and his fellow Candians as the forgotten soldiers. That he felt that all the stories after Sicily went to the "real soldiers" ( anyone who landed in France on D-Da ...more
Jan 15, 2014 Jonathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wwii-allies
Very good book about a battle I had never heard of. Also of interest to me was the fact it is a Canadian study about the Canadian forces (The author does take the time to intersperse some Italian and German accounts as well), the first I have read focusing on Canadian troops. Overall a good book, however some forgivable mistakes on the technical side of things (The author is overly fond of referring to the Mp-40 sub machine gun erroneously as the 'Schmeisser' he does this throughout the entire b ...more
Michael Dorosh
A readable precis not just of Ortona, but of the entire Moro River campaign (the title is a bit of a misnomer). Covers ground ably covered by Daniel Dancocks in D-DAY DODGERS and by Gerry Nicholson in the official history THE CANADIANS IN ITALY, but really offers no new insights into how the battle of Ortona itself was fought. A good book for anyone looking for a general description of the Canadians in the Moro, and some good interviews with vets, but again - the appendices are strewn with error ...more
Sep 02, 2016 John rated it really liked it
I am reading Zuehlke's books on Canadian campaigns in Italy in chronological order, rather than the order he wrote them. Like his Operation Husky book (the latest book, but first Italian campaign to occur), this one is very well researched and presented. Like Husky, it would have benefited from having the maps closer to the relevant text, but it is less of an issue here, since more than one set of actions were happening simultaneously at Ortona. Also, in Husky, Zuehlke mentions more frequently m ...more
Dave Elviss
Aug 12, 2016 Dave Elviss rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My father served with the Loyal Edmonton Regiment from 1939 to 1945. Like many vets, he was very reluctant to talk about the war, better to leave certain memories alone. This book finally provided insight into what the Canadian troops experienced in Italy. This book was an eyeopener for me. The battle for Ortona was horrific with the Canadians having to battle for every inch in order to eventually force the Germans out. The battle is often referred to as Little Stalingrad, and after reading the ...more
Sep 30, 2013 Donna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Weaving stories from first hand accounts of Canadians, Germans, and Italian citizens, the author masterfully blends the stories of the participants in this captivating tale of the vicious battle for the town of Ortona, Italy, in the 2nd World War. Visit the Moro River Canadian War Cemetery and know the Canadians did not die in vain as the people of Italy and the rest of the free world live in freedom from the tyranny of Nazi days.
Apr 15, 2012 Jan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A solid, thoroughly researched narrative of a hard fought and bloody battle between Canadians and Germans in December 1943. Zuehlke very much adopts the view of the soldier of the ground and vividly manages to project the stress and confusion of the battlefield. Probably mostly of interest for military history buffs, but might be the one military history book you choose to read to 'get a better sense of what is was like'.
I wanted to like this book, as it is a subject dear to me. Unfortunately, I found Zueklke's style un-engaging. His knowledge of battalions and divisions and tactics is remarkable, but his desire and ability to put the human touch on it--to focus on the men as much (or more) than the tactics--is not.
Mar 18, 2011 William rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-two
Not so much a detailed study of the fighting in Ortona as an overall picture of the Moro campaign. The writing is serviceable, but the wealth of first hand accounts included are counterbalanced by a lack of any new thesis.
Sep 13, 2012 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Awesome historical facts with many personal stories of those who were there.
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On January 1, 1981, Mark Zuehlke walked away from a journalism career to pursue magazine and book writing fulltime. He has never looked back. In 1992, Mark published his first book—Magazine Writing From the Boonies (co-authored with Louise Donnelly)—and now concentrates almost exclusively on writing of books.

Fascinated by Canada’s military heritage, Mark first set to writing about the role Canadia
More about Mark Zuehlke...

Other Books in the Series

Canadian Battle (7 books)
  • The Liri Valley: Canada's World War II Breakthrough to Rome
  • The Gothic Line: Canada's Climactic World War II Triumph in Italy
  • Juno Beach: Canada's D-Day Victory, June 6, 1944
  • Holding Juno: Canada’s Heroic Defence of the D-Day Beaches: June 7-12, 1944
  • Terrible Victory: First Canadian Army and the Scheldt Estuary Campaign: September 13 - November 6, 1944
  • Operation Husky

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“[Alon Johnson] Later wrote that, "coming through a battered building near a well known and dangerous doorway. I heard something unfamiliar -- the sound of excited voices somewhere in the distance. The significance of this babble seemed to escape the tired company, but to me it suggested a sudden and radical change in the situation. Important enough to risk being shot at by showing myself in the doorway. Nothing happened, so I stepped into the street,...” 1 likes
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