Anna's Reviews > Italy's Sorrow: A Year of War, 1944--1945

Italy's Sorrow by James Holland
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's review
Jun 23, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: non-fiction
Read in November, 2009

Prior to about two years ago, I was under the impression that the Italian front in World War II was a cakewalk compared to Normandy, North Africa, and the Pacific which we all learn so much about in school - that once Sicily was won, the rest just fell into place. As it turns out, this is not the case. On the contrary, the Italian front was one of the ugliest fronts in the war - ugly for the Allies forces, for Axis forces, and particularly ugly for the citizens themselves, who for years lived under occupation as a result of a war that they had never wanted. James Holland eloquently recounts the Allied forces' slow and bloody struggle up the peninsula, from Anzio to Monte Cassino all the way up the Gothic front to the hills of Bologna, where local starving peasants suffered relentless bombardments from the Americans on the one hand and and, on a few notable occasions, enormous civilian massacres by SS troops on the other.
The linear historical account is interspersed with first-hand accounts from soldiers and officers of all nations (American and British, but also German, Indian, Polish, and Maori) as well as Italian partisans and civilians, which grant a narrative and personal quality.
It's a shame that the Italian front is so commonly ignored in the teaching and study of World War II. James Holland performs an admirable job in remedying this error of omission.
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