Book report: The Day of Battle by Rick Atkinson

Last night I finished the 2nd book in Rick Atkinson's proposed Liberation Trilogy on WW2. The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944 is as compelling and informative read as his first book, An Army at Dawn: The War in Africa, 1942-1943, for which he won a Pulitzer Prize. Unfortunately, it took five years between books. The facts are en-fleshed with sights and smells and ancient history and personal tics and diary entries and letters home and official euphemisms. I felt he pulled on threads in this history that were then not woven back into the story. For example, towards the end of the campaign to Rome, he writes about General Clark's controversial decision to press West instead of North in an attempt to inflict more damage on Kesselring's retreating armies. I'm still not sure of the controversy. He detailed Clark's self-defense over the next 25 years and official British statements on his decision, but what was the problem?

He included interesting backgrounds on privates, lieutenants, majors, and generals. He mentioned the first major contribution of the Tuskegee airmen in the skies over Italy as well as the racism they were facing as they helped. He creates tension in the story despite the overwhelming odds (men, materiel, local support, broken codes) in the Allies favor.


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