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Monte Cassino: The Hardest Fought Battle of World War II

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  405 ratings  ·  29 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
Paperback, 448 pages
Published May 10th 2005 by Anchor (first published 2003)
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Jul 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
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 rated it it was amazing
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)
Oct 22, 2014 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
Mar 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 06, 2021 rated it really liked it

In-depth, fluent and informative. Unfortunately I didn't find the writing to be excellent but it is still good. My major takeway was how I didn't realise that so much of the battles and the final engagements were fought by Allies (UK, Canadians, Poles, Indians, Gurkhas and Kiwis) other than the Americans. I think popular culture and likely Mark Clark's need for attention has made us think this was primarily an American effort and that couldn't be further from the truth.
Nov 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
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,
May 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Rick B.H. Ghost
Nov 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you have had relatives who fought in Italy in World War II this book by Parker and those by Zuehike are must reads.
Persons mentioned in these battles you will find mentioned by both authors in their books great reads.
Big Lemons
Sep 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Miserable men fighting on mountains. Woven into the narrative are harrowing first hand accounts sourced from interviews and correspondence with the participants from both sides. Fine compassionate writing.
Antonio Calderon
Me dejó los sentimientos a flor de piel, casi siento que estoy agazapado en alguna parte de la ladera de ese monte.
Apr 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
A very good account of this battle.
Lee Perry
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I had the veteran friends who fought at Cassino, my biggest regret was not reading this magnificent account before they had all past away. A fantastic account!
Roy Szweda
Jul 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Kenneth Barber
Feb 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Duncan Howard
Aug 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
If you like reading the history of World War Two then this is certainly worth reading. I found that as i grew older there were parts of history that seemed to have been glossed over and the invasion of Italy was one of them. The book is thoroughly researched and has interviews with Allied and Axis servicemen and from Italian civilians living there at the time. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in this period of history.

Now, my only gripe... i bought the ebook and as i have a crapp
Rich Martin
Nov 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Nick Crisanti
Oct 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: wwii
What an eye-opener. I've read a lot of WWII books and none have come close to portraying how awful it was to be in the trenches as this book has done. I just kept shaking my head in amazement at what these men went through at the insistence of those high in command. And they knocked down the monastery to boot. It's a shame that more people aren't aware of these battles in the Italian campaign. If all you know about Monte Cassino is that the monastery was bombed, then read this book. Highly recom ...more
Jun 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
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". ...more
Jan Charvát
Aug 07, 2011 rated it it was ok
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.
Sep 28, 2011 rated it liked it
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.
James McKenna
Mar 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Great book telling the true story of WW2 hardest battle.
Feb 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Frank Pleszak
Mar 07, 2013 rated it liked it
Good book
May 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding. Moving account, including much first-hand testimony, of the folly of this most brutal and futile series of battles.
John Welsh
Apr 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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.
David Gionfriddo
rated it really liked it
Aug 15, 2014
rated it it was amazing
Oct 05, 2013
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May 15, 2012
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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.

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