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The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944 (World War II Liberation Trilogy #2)

4.31 of 5 stars 4.31  ·  rating details  ·  5,317 ratings  ·  334 reviews
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER


In the second volume of his epic trilogy about the liberation of Europe in World War II, Pulitzer Prize winner Rick Atkinson tells the harrowing story of the campaigns in Sicily and Italy


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...more
ebook, 816 pages
Published October 2nd 2007 by Henry Holt and Co. (first published 2007)
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Matt
In An Army at Dawn, the first volume of his Liberation Trilogy, Rick Atkinson delivered one of the best military histories I’ve ever read. Epic and intimate. Thorough yet lucid. Impeccably researched and gloriously written. It set the bar high for the rest of his great literary project covering the western European theater of operations during World War II.

The Day of Battle, Atkinson’s second volume, surpasses that high bar with ease. An Army at Dawn ended with American and British troops victo...more
Curtiss
Nov 25, 2011 Curtiss rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Only serious students of Military History.
The second volume in Rick Atkinson's Liberation Trilogy; I can hardly wait for volume three.

This volume deals with the second year of the war in the Mediterranean, including the invasions of Sicily, Salerno, and Anzio; ending with the capture of Rome the day before the Normandy landings, much to the chagrin of the troops in Italy who held the headlines for barely a day. It further reinforces my negative opinion of America's strategic planning, or rather the lack of strategic planning, at least t...more
William

"Day of Battle" by Rick Atkinson is volume II of his "Liberation Trilogy," a retelling of the US involvement in WWII that welds lyrical prose with detailed narrative.

For Atkinson, writing a book on Sicily and Italy is a tough deal, as it is the lackluster mid-point between North Africa and France, a thankless second act bridging the good parts of a three-act play. The war in Italy is seen within the doubtless good-versus-evil framework of WWII, buttressed by the goal of unconditional surrender....more
Christopher
Atkinson gets better in the second installment of his Liberation Trilogy. Yes, this book is hefty, both physically and mentally.

The Italian Campaign was the closest that the Western Allies came to WWI-style attritional warfare. The frustration at the stalemate in front of Cassino and at Anzio is palpable throughout the later half of the book. While covering grand strategy, Atkinson still gives a feel for the individual Dogfaces, Tommies, Kiwis, and Gurkhas stuck in the battle.

I think Day of Batt...more
Rick Riordan
The follow-up to Atkinson's An Army at Dawn, The Day of Battle covers the Allied invasion of Sicily and Italy from 1943-1944. I knew little about this front, as it often gets eclipsed by the later invasion of France. It was fascinating to follow the internal struggles between the American and British -- Churchill relentlessly insisting they rip out the 'soft underbelly' of Axis Europe, which proved to be none too soft -- while the Americans saw the Mediterranean as a sideshow, taking valuable r...more
Brian
You can't fault Rick Atkinson for the amount of research he does. He pores through histories, letters, diaries and battle reports. The result is a full, although at times overly detailed history of the allied taking of Sicily and Italy during World War Two. He quotes not just what soldiers wrote home, but sometimes what they said on the battlefield in the heat of action.

In particular what emerges is a picture of military leadership that is both accurate and not flattering. Gen. George Patton was...more
Checkman
Good military history. Nothing really new covered here and the book ends in the spring of 1944 with just a cursory look at the last year of the Italian Campaign. Why? Because this is the second chapter of a trilogy about the liberation of Europe from the Nazi yoke.

The real meat and potatoes of such a trilogy is going to the the third installment and the battle for Northwestern Europe (France, Belgium, Netherlands and Germany proper). The Day of Battle is the middle installment (traditionally alw...more
Donna
This is the second book in Rick Atkinson’s WWII Liberation trilogy. I felt the same way about this one that I felt for his first oneAn Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943. For this book being a non-fiction book, he does a great job at not just regurgitating the facts he compiled in his research. I think the thing that helps is all of the personal stories from journals and letters that he included. It put a touch of humanity in it and that helped it move along and kept it interesting...more
Mal Warwick
“The fog of war.”

This phrase, introduced by the Prussian military strategist Carl von Clausewitz in a book published in 1837, years after his death, is generally taken to mean that, in war, uncertainty and confusion demand fast and flexible thinking of military commanders. In Rick Atkinson’s The Day of Battle, the second book in his three-volume account of the Allies in World War II, the term took on new meaning for me close to that of a phrase from contemporary slang, SNAFU (“situation normal,...more
Steven Peterson
This is a detailed work showing the horrors of battles in Sicily and Italy in World War II. Gruesome details provide a ring of truth in this well researched volume. The work also demonstrates the genuine heroism that took place. The "soft underbelly of Europe," to use Churchill's terms, was hardly soft in fact.

Some real strengths of this book are the thumbnail character sketches of many figures, from top generals to division commanders down to small unit leaders and troops. This provides a huma...more
Michael Burhans
The second book in the Liberation Trilogy is, surprisingly, even better than the first one. I would not have thought that was possible. These books are about history, history that is for the large part well known. There is no mystery as to who is going to win the war. My father fought in these battles and I have heard stories from him and his friends. Yet still Rick Atkinson makes learning even more about them taunt, exciting, and page turning. As with the first book there is the sweep of histo...more
Michael Gerald Dealino
War is such a nasty business, that it is almost unthinkable to write about a real war in great prose. But Rick Atkinson did it in this book about the liberation of Sicily and Italy in 1943-1944.

Following in the tradition of fine writing of the likes of Cornelius Ryan, Stephen Ambrose, and Hampton Sides, "The Day of Battle" brings the reader in an almost intimate manner to the struggles, the hardships, the sacrifices, the defeats, the victories, the sorrows, and the joys of the war in Italy, amon...more
Jonathan
An excellent and somber look at the Italian campaign of WWII. Power plays, political aspirations, and overall incompetence again composed the death rattle of thousands of lives. Again the author does an excellent job of weaving the grand overview, the politicians, tacticians, and the dog faces on the ground into one flowing account. The book itself is hard to put down at times, and others hard to read given the circumstances and cost of living involved. Interesting also for me personally to read...more
Larry
"On few battlefields would soldiers endure harsher conditions or witness worse carnage (p. 409)."

"Nothing was right except the courage (p. 328)."

Atkinson's history of World War II in Sicily and Italy is even more impressive that his Pulitzer-winning "An Army at Dawn." The war in Italy was one long brutal slugfest, even compared to what had happened in North Africa. Though the Allies controlled the sky and the sea, Italy's harsh topography exacerbated the often stunningly poor Allied leadership t...more
Tom
I don’t think I liked it quite as much as Army at Dawn. Thinking more about it, the reasons I disliked it might be, somewhat, to its credit as a book.

It’s a slog through the middle 60%-70%. Somewhere towards the end of the book I had a bit of an a-ha moment realizing that, maybe, I should find it unsurprising that a narrative of a slow, slogging battle across Italy, at times, was a frustratingly slow read.

Another problem was that the thesis seemed to be the same as Army at Dawn: the Allies wer...more
Clyde
The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944 is the second book in Rick Atkinson's three-part history of World War II. It picks up pretty much right where An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943 ends.
The battle for Italy was one of the toughest of the war. By the end of the 608 day campaign to liberate Italy, Allied forces had lost about 312,000 casualties. German losses, while uncertain, were similar in scale. The fighting was particularly brutal at the Anzio beachhead...more
Christopher
A very satisfying account of the Sicilian and Italian campaigns Atkinson, much like the Allied soldiers he chronicles, is getting closer to Germany and getting better with each book he writes. Far more evenly balanced in criticism and praise than the first volume of the Liberation trilogy (i.e. An Army at Dawn), Atkinson also ably adds a touch of the poetic to nearly every strategic plan, every battlefield, and every foxhole, although this may reflect that Atkinson had a far more historically an...more
Tripp
Feb 03, 2008 Tripp rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History readers
If you read books about the Second World War, put Rick Atkinson's The Day of Battle at the top of your pile. If you don't, this is a great place to start. The focus of the book is on the American Army experience in Sicily and Italy from 1943-44. The British, Polish, Canadian, Free French, and New Zealand forces are also covered, but the emphasis here is on the American forces.

The book is admirably balanced between the problems of command and the daily lives and deaths of the foot soldier. Like i...more
Ross
Second volume of the trilogy and my main complaint here is the amount of trivia the author includes such as remarks in letters home that add color, but nothing of substance to the history of the war.
Again, as in volume I, the book does not hold back on the huge number of blunders which occurred and were hidden and white washed at the time for the sake of public opinion. Many thousands of Allied troops killed by friendly fire, for example and other types of incompetence. The cold-blooded murder o...more
Marcus
Absolutely brilliant sequel to the equally excellent "An Army at Dawn". First and foremost, it is a very needed book, since Italian campaign is most often either totally ignored or remembered for the single, controversial event of bombing the Abbey of Monte Cassino. Atkinson provides a detailed and rich narrative of Sicily and Italian campaign, a much needed contribution to historical coverage of Second World War. However, what makes this book special is the ability of the author to convey the e...more
A.L. Sowards
The allied campaign in Italy could be summed up in one quote, spoken by a general from New Zealand after studying a failed American attempt to breach the Rapido river, “Nothing was right except the courage.”

What went wrong? Plenty. Cassino. Security lapses. Malaria. Italy’s topography. Cassino. The Gustav, Hitler, and Caesar lines. Failure to reach the Alban Hills before the Germans counterattacked at Anzio. Cassino. Constant bickering between allies—first between Patton and Monty, than between...more
Mike Angelillo
To get an idea of how well researched this book is flip to the back and see that is has over 170 pages of notes and sources.

The Day Of Battle is a very worthy successor to Army At Dawn with wonderful insight into the soldiers, leaders and battles in Sicily and Italy. You get a real feel for the good and bad of the Allies as constant squabbling between US and UK leadership is contrasted with the sacrifice of Polish, Canadian and French soldiers along with the Brits and Yanks.

You can't help but to...more
Sue
I actually liked this book better than his first in this 3-part series (the third book is still pending at this time). I delves deeply into the theories, planning, scheming, folly, tragedy, valor, and pyrrhic success of the battles in Sicily and Italy. Not only does it touch on more famous scandals, like the famous Patton slapping incidents and the infighting between Allied generals, but it takes the reader right into the fox holes of the typical GI. This theater of war quickly fell into the sha...more
George
Wonderfully written and researched. An extremely fine companion book to the Army at Dawn, which covered the US Army in North Africa. The author spends lavish amounts of time trying to create context and color, so much so it overwhelms at times. One of the interesting points throughout the book is how much of this campaign was under supported in men and material and largely unwanted by the US high command, who were much more interested in prepping for the real show in France. There was very littl...more
Jesper Jorgensen
Finally I have finished reading this book. And a very good one it is.

I haven't read much about the Italian Campaign. To say nothing would be more correct. I have seen pictures of the utterly destroyed Monte Cassino, read peripheral references in other books to the Sicily, Salerno and Anzio landings. But that's about it. Hence I was not aware of how bloody the battles were. And apparently it is still discussed whether the Italian Campaign was worth the loses or not.

For those of you who do not ha...more
Bryan (Beej) Jones
Side-by-side with "This Kind of War" as the greatest military history books I have ever read. I can copy-and-paste much of my review from "This Kind of War" into this reveiw. Atkinson does a masterful job in his account. He seamlessly is able to provide an comprehensive account of the conflict across the tactical, operational, and strategic spheres. He recounts the plight of the foot soldier and as easily as he does tells the story of a secret Roosevelt / Churchill conference. In doing so, he do...more
Bob Mobley
This is the second volume of Rick Atkinson's "Liberation Trilogy," and follows An Army At Dawn. The Day of Battle is an interesting and fascinating account of the campaigns in Sicily and Italy during 1943 - 1944. Atkinson makes this story compelling, illuminating, personal and revealing on the difficult and incredible challenges that faced the Allied Forces in this theatre of war. What I found most interesting and very informative was his detailed examination of the leadership characteristics an...more
David
"The Day of Battle" is the second volume of Rick Atkinson's Liberation Trilogy. The first volume, "An Army at Dawn", which won the 2003 Pulitzer for History, covered the 1942-43 Allied invasion of North Africa. This second volume deals with the 1943-44 invasion of Sicily and Italy. The final volume will cover Normandy and the march into Germany. When I read "An Army at Dawn" upon its release, I thought it the finest book about war I'd ever read. Reading "The Day of Battle", I may have to revise...more
Robert Mueller
Atkinson presents the numerous engagements that comprised the battles for Sicily and Italy. He also evaluates the many tactical and strategic decisions made by command levels - some that contributed to the high casualty toll. This was my first read on the campaigns in the 'soft underbelly of Europe.' It was by no means 'soft' and I had no previous understanding of the fighting conditions, terrible casualties, and repeated attacks necessary before the objective - the capture of Rome - was obtaine...more
Vaughn
This second of a three volume series was a grim recounting of the second phase of World War 2 told from the American perspective - the Sicilian and Italian campaigns ending with the capture of Rome. The author did an excellent job of portraying the growing power of the United States national effort in overwhelming the industrial capacity of Germany. The author also demonstrated continued disunity in the Allied coordination and efforts.

As with volume one, I am left so impressed with the sacrifice...more
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The History Book ...: TOC AND SYLLABUS - THE DAY OF BATTLE - (Spoiler Thread) 9 69 Sep 24, 2014 03:30PM  
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Born in Munich, in the Federal Republic of Germany, Atkinson is the son of a U.S. Army officer and grew up on military posts. He holds a master of arts degree in English literature from the University of Chicago. He is the best-selling author of The Long Gray Line, a narrative account about West Point’s class of 1966; Crusade, a narrative history of the Persian Gulf War; and An Army at Dawn , the...more
More about Rick Atkinson...
An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943 (World War II Liberation Trilogy, #1) The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945 (World War II Liberation Trilogy, #3) The Long Gray Line: The American Journey of West Point's Class of 1966 In The Company Of Soldiers: A Chronicle Of Combat In Iraq Crusade: The Untold Story of the Persian Gulf War

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