Sicily '43: Book summary and reviews of Sicily '43 by James Holland

Sicily '43

The First Assault on Fortress Europe

by James Holland

Sicily '43 by James Holland X
Sicily '43 by James Holland
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Book Summary

On July 10, 1943, the largest amphibious invasion ever mounted took place, larger even than the Normandy invasion eleven months later: 160,000 American, British, and Canadian troops came ashore or were parachuted onto Sicily, signaling the start of the campaign to defeat Nazi Germany on European soil.

Operation HUSKY, as it was known, was enormously complex, involving dramatic battles on land, in the air, and at sea. Yet, despite its paramount importance to ultimate Allied victory, and its drama, very little has been written about the 38-day Battle for Sicily.

Based on his own battlefield studies in Sicily and on much new research, James Holland's Sicily '43 offers a vital new perspective on a major turning point in World War II and a chronicle of a multi-pronged campaign in a uniquely diverse and contained geographical location. The characters involved―Generals George Patton and Bernard Montgomery among many―were as colorful as the air and naval battles and the fighting on the ground across the scorching plains and mountaintop of Sicily were brutal. But among Holland's great skills is incorporating the experience of on-the-ground participants on all sides―from American privates Tom and Dee Bowles and Tuskegee fighter pilot Charlie Dryden to British major Hedley Verity and Canadian lieutenant Farley Mowat (later a celebrated author), to German and Italian participants such as Wilhelm Schmalz, brigade commander in the Hermann Göring Division, or Luftwaffe fighter pilot major Johannes "Macky" Steinhoff and to Italian combatants, civilians and mafiosi alike―which gives readers an intimate sense of what occurred in July and August 1943.

Emphasizing the significance of Allied air superiority, Holland overturns conventional narratives that have criticized the Sicily campaign for the vacillations over the plan, the slowness of the Allied advance and that so many German and Italian soldiers escaped to the mainland; rather, he shows that clearing the island in 38 days against geographical challenges and fierce resistance was an impressive achievement. A powerful and dramatic account by a master military historian, Sicily '43 fills a major gap in the narrative history of World War II.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"[An] expert account...Marshalling a wealth of primary and secondary sources into an engrossing narrative, Holland fills a yawning gap in histories of WWII. This magisterial account is a must-read for military history fan." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Holland paints a detailed portrait of both Sicily and the battle. An excellent and accessible telling of the invasion that will be enjoyed by military history and World War II enthusiasts alike." - Library Journal (starred review)

"Holland's great skill lies in bringing these warriors back to life with vivid prose. He's an enormously prolific historian of the war, but each book he produces is constructed with great care and emotional commitment...On the internet, armchair generals argue endlessly over battles like Sicily, reducing them to the sanitised, smooth movements of tiny lead soldiers over carefully reconstructed terrain. Holland is not like that. His war is anarchy. His soldiers fight heroically, but also die brutally, torn to shreds or burnt to cinders. They're racked with dysentery and typhoid or become gibbering wrecks in field hospitals. Holland is obsessed with war, but fortunately does not seem to love it. He recognises its beauty, but also its vileness." - Gerard DeGroot, Times (UK)

This information about Sicily '43 shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

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Author Information

James Holland

James Holland is the author of Normandy '44, Big Week, The Rise of Germany and The Allies Strike Back in the War in the West trilogy, as well as Fortress Malta, Dam Busters, and The Battle of Britain. Holland regularly appears on television and radio and has written and presented the BAFTA shortlisted documentaries Battle of Britain and Dam Busters for the BBC, among others. A fellow of the Royal Historical Society, he has his own collection at the Imperial War Museum.

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