MONTE CASSINO, THE HARDEST FOUGHT BATTLE OF WORLD WAR II. by Matthew Parker. A gripping chronicle of the greatest and most terrible confrontation between Allied forces and the Nazi army, based on groundbreaking archival research and the compelling first-person accounts of four hundred survivors on both sides of the conflict. This deeply moving, richly detailed and fast-paced account identifies and covers all participating Allied and German forces. American units include the 34th Infantry Division, 36th Infantry Division, 85th Infantry Division, and the 88th Infantry Division. 432 pages; photographs.
Before D-Day there was Monte Cassino, the desperate six-month struggle in the mountains of central Italy that left more than 350,000 men dead or wounded. Hitler had declared that the Allied drive toward Rome must be stopped at all costs, and in the winter of 1943–44 the German commander Kesselring chose the fortress-like monastery of Monte Cassino as the centerpiece of the Gustav Line, one of the most impressive feats of defensive engineering ever conceived. With months to prepare his position, Kesselring took advantage of the treacherous terrain to establish a virtually impregnable position. As the Allied forces?which included Americans, British, Canadians, Indians, South Africans, Tunisians, Algerians, Moroccans, Senegalese, Brazilians, and royalist Italians pushed their way forward, the coldest, rainiest winter in Italian history rendered air and armor power useless, and turned the landscape into a hellish killing ground.
The Battle of Monte Cassino is a story of the horrors of war seen from the perspective of the soldiers on the battlefield. Through interviews with hundreds of survivors, as well as wartime letters and diaries, Matthew Parker vividly captures the savagery of conflicts fought with grenades, bayonets, and bare hands. His extensive research in the military archives of the participating nations brings to light how incessant disagreements and backbiting at the Allied command level contributed to the carnage and confusion. The destruction of the fourteenth-century monastery itself becomes a powerful symbol of the toll war takes on history and culture. Monte Cassino was one of the most sacred sites in Christendom and the home to valuable religious artifacts, artworks, and manuscripts. In massive Allied bombings, the building and many of its irreplaceable treasures were reduced to rubble.
The first book in twenty years about Monte Cassino, this monumental work of history conveys the human face of war with authoritative power and unforgettable emotional resonance.
“Monte Cassino was a mini-war within World War II. It was Europe's largest land battle and was fought over six months with over 350,000 casualties. Matthew Parker combines detailed archival research with hundreds of veterans' interviews to give us the definitive account of this hellish conflict.” -- James Bradley, Author, Flags of Our Fathers & Flyboys
“Few people today realize that British and American soldiers fought in a battle that compares to Stalingrad for human suffering. Monte Cassino is a fitting tribute: an important and beautifully written book, told with real understanding and pathos for those who withstood the Western Allies’ bloodiest encounter with the German Army.” -- Daily Telegraph
“One of the true epics of infantry war in World War II . . . a gripping story of incompetence, courage, cowardice and almost every other human emotion that war can excite . . . [it] can only make your heart ache.
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