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Review by Martin Koenigsberg

Just Finished my 54th Book Review of the Year!!

This book was the third “Campaign Book” in this series, coming out in 1968, and it sets the tone for the many books to come. You get a basic 160 page history of Campaign, from inception to end, liberally sprinkled with B/w pics, maps, diagrams and line drawing of era kit. Martin Blumenson, a veteran of the European war and a historian of note is a good narrator- as the Allies struggle to hone their craft- the Germans try to hold up the allies advance and their own struggling ally – and the Italians reckon with invasion of the homeland and impeding implosion. The allies had a simple plan- the battle proven Brits would take the east side of the Island- and the Americans, still learning their craft would “guard their flank” with the longer western side. Of course- to Patton the American field commander under Eisenhower- this was tantamount to an insult- and the campaign became a race to Messina- the British doggedly advancing into Strong German defences- and the Americans using their firepower and mobility to take the long road- but get there first… The Germans could feel like they won too though- as the allies never did really force any acceleration of the withdrawal from the island to the “Boot” of Italy…

Of course the real story is the collapsing Italy- her troops just not that enthused by the war, her resources almost totally depleted already from adventures in East and North Africa, and the Balkans. The Germans’ phased withdrawal is concurrent with an Italian one, as the Italian leadership tries to force a withdrawal from the war on Mussolini- and Hitler seeks to support his biggest ally. The result is a growing sense in the German Military that they will need to stiffen the Italians or occupy all of Italy. Blumenson shows how the tactical war in Sicily-impacted the political machinations at play in Europe. The Allies are exploring the limits of airpower, naval gunnery, Airdrops of men and supplies, and Amphibious outflanking maneuvers- the Germans are learning to be canny defenders. The reader will note that this book was written six years before the Ultra decryptions were revealed to the public and civilian historians, so some events/interchanges are more easily explained now that we know who knew what when… Still for all its age, the book gives a good distilled history of both the fighting and the politics, excellent for the novice to WWII or Junior reader.
This series was aimed at the Junior reader of the 1970s- and they are still great for the Junior Reader of today- so this is a fine resource for a reader of 10/11 years- how old I was when I first read these books. For the Gamer/Modeler/Military Enthusiast, these are great little books for reading up on a campaign, battle, or weapon that you might not want to overthink. For a Gamer- this is enough to create some Campaign or battle scenarios- or a great little book to give a Warhammer player looking to break into Historical gaming. The modeler gets a lot of Diorama ideas and some good pictures to emulate. The Military enthusiast gets a short history- an amuse bouche to decide of you want to read more on the topic- or if this taste is enough. Personally- I have already found another book on this battle in the Collection I have added to the travel read list. So this little book can be beguiling…

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