Today Italy is a land of beauty and prosperity but in 1944-45 it had become a place of nightmares, a land of violence, war, and destruction. James Holland's ground-breaking account expertly documents the German advance to the stalemate of the Gothic line and a segment of Italian history that has been largely neglected.
The war in Italy was the most destructive campaign in the west as the Allies and Germans fought a long, bitter and highly attritional conflict up the mountainous leg of Italy during the last twelve months of the Second World War. For front-line troops, casualties rates at Cassino and then along the notorious Gothic Line were as high as they had been along the Western Front in the First World War. There were further similarities too: blasted landscapes, rain and mud. For the men who fought there, Italy really was the hardest campaign.
And while the Allies and Germans were slogging it out through the mountains, the Italians were fighting their own battles, one where Partisans and Fascists were pitted against each other in a bloody civil war. Around them, civilians tried to live through the carnage, terror and anarchy while, in the wake of the Allied advance, beleaguered and impoverished Italians were forced to pick their way through the ruins of their homes and country and often forced into making terrible and heart-rending decisions in order to survive.
'Italy's Sorrow' is the first account of the war in that most beautiful of countries to tell the story from all sides and to include the experiences of soldiers and civilians alike. Offering extensive new research, it weaves together the drama and tragedy of a terrible year of war with new perspectives and material on some of the most debated episodes to have emerged from the Second World War. It is a magnificent achievement by one of our finest young military historians.
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‘James Holland has written his best book yet, a gripping, yet compassionate account of the terrible war in Italy, with a memorable depiction of civilian suffering.’ Antony Beevor
‘’Italy’s Sorrow’ ambitiously tries to incorporate every element of the Italian campaign. There are some fine descriptive highlights…[and] there is a lot of good material.’ Financial Times
‘Impeccably researched and ingeniously structured …”Italy’s Sorrow” is a splendid account of an often overshadowed campaign by a historian who has already given us excellent studies of the Siege of Malta and the Desert War.’ Daily Express
‘Holland is particularly good at telling the story of a nationality through a few interlocutors…All are portrayed with a remarkably engaging touch, yet the sorrow is ultimately reserved for the poor, un-martial Italians whose ancient towns and villages were laid waste by both sides.’ Sunday Telegraph
‘The central strength of the book is its depiction of the lives of ordinary Italians. Holland is a very humane historian with a strong emotional intelligence that is swift to understand and slow to judge…the suffering of Italy’s innocents deserves to be commemorated. James Holland’s excellent book does that, and much more, confirming his place in the first rank of contemporary military historians.’ Mail on Sunday
'A thorough and impartial overview.' The Economist
'Assiduously researched, enthusiastically narrated…a colourful narrative…it is hard to believe that this will not be the definitive account of the battle for Italy.' Daily Telegraph
'The suffering of Italy's innocents deserves to be commemorated. James Holland's excellent book does that and much more, confirming his place in the first rank of contemporary military historians.' Mail on Sunday
'One of the many witnesses whose superbly well-expressed emotions bring alive James Holland's history of the last year of the war in Italy…refreshingly revisionist…Holland is particularly good at telling the story of a nationality through a few interlocutors…all are portrayed with a remarkably engaging touch.' Sunday Telegraph
'The central strength of the book is its depiction of the lives of ordinary Italians. Holland is a very humane historian with a strong emotional intelligence that is swift to understand and slow to judge…the suffering of Italy's innocents deserves to be commemorated. James Holland's excellent book does that, and much more, confirming his place in the first rank of contemporary military historians.' Mail on Sunday
Praise for ‘Together We Stand’:
'Anyone who wants to know how it felt to fight in the desert war should read Holland's book. It represents a remarkable collation of personal experience and sensible historical judgments.' Max Hastings, Sunday Telegraph
'Holland has produced a wonderful book whose pace…never seems to flag…he is a master at evoking time and place, with haunting descriptions of the desert landscape…If there is a better book on the North African campaign, I haven't read it.' Daily Telegraph, Saul David
More praise for ‘Together We Stand’:
'Using personal testimony and private memoirs as effectively as official archives, he recreates the hardships and challenges faced by ordinary soldiers and reassesses the tactical and strategic innovations that finally gave the allies the upper hand.' Sunday Times
'As Holland shows, this period saw the realisation of how the war might eventually be won.' BBC History Magazine
'Stands out from the crowd.’ Literary Review, Nigel Jones
'The book gives the individuals, be they commander-in-chiefs or infantry, space that attests to their bravery and sacrifices…a comprehensive appraisal of the war in North Africa.' Good Book Guide
'Holland tells the story brilliantly. He has delved into archives for letters and diaries and diligently tracked down survivors…Vividly, intelligently, movingly, Holland's monumental chronicle tells it like it was.' Patrick Bishop, Mail on Sunday
‘No other work that I have read conveys so effectively the tragedy of this frustrating campaign.’ TLSAbout the Author:
James Holland was born in Salisbury, Wiltshire, and studied history at Durham University. He has worked for several London publishing houses and has written for a number of national newspapers and magazines. He is the author of ‘Fortress Malta: An Island Under Siege 1940-1943’, ‘Together We Stand’, ‘Heroes’ and a novel, ‘The Burning Blue’. Married with a son, he lives near Salisbury.
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Book Description St. Martin's Press, New York, 2008. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 7176457