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Monte Cassino: The Hardest Fought Battle of World War II (2003)

by Matthew Parker

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297489,113 (3.82)5
The six-month battle for Monte Cassino was Britain's bitterest and bloodiest encounter with the German army on any front in World War Two. At the beginning of 1944 Italy was the western Allies' only active front against Nazi-controlled Europe, and their only route to the capital was through the Liri valley. Towering over the entrance to the valley was the medieval monastery of Monte Cassino, a seemingly impenetrable fortress high up in the 'bleak and sinister' mountains. This was where the German commander, Kesselring, made his stand. MONTE CASSINO tells the extraordinary story of ordinary soldiers tested to the limits under conditions reminiscent of the bloodbaths of World War One. In a battle that became increasingly political, symbolic and personal as it progressed, more and more men were asked to throw themselves at the virtually impregnable German defences. It is a story of incompetence, hubris and politics redeemed at dreadful cost by the heroism of the soldiers.… (more)
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Not a bad survey of the battle, and some of the human dimension. Little on the armies themselves; the tactics and strategy go largely undiscussed. For Canadians, he manages to dismiss the entire Canadian Corps breach of the Hitler Line in a sentence, a pretty stunning exercise of editorial conciseness. ( )
  RobertP | Sep 7, 2010 |
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The six-month battle for Monte Cassino was Britain's bitterest and bloodiest encounter with the German army on any front in World War Two. At the beginning of 1944 Italy was the western Allies' only active front against Nazi-controlled Europe, and their only route to the capital was through the Liri valley. Towering over the entrance to the valley was the medieval monastery of Monte Cassino, a seemingly impenetrable fortress high up in the 'bleak and sinister' mountains. This was where the German commander, Kesselring, made his stand. MONTE CASSINO tells the extraordinary story of ordinary soldiers tested to the limits under conditions reminiscent of the bloodbaths of World War One. In a battle that became increasingly political, symbolic and personal as it progressed, more and more men were asked to throw themselves at the virtually impregnable German defences. It is a story of incompetence, hubris and politics redeemed at dreadful cost by the heroism of the soldiers.

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