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Bitter Victory: The Battle for Sicily, 1943 Hardcover – September 29, 1988


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--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 666 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult (September 29, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525244719
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525244714
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.4 x 2.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #977,358 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With a veritable blizzard of primary-source support, D'Este ( Decision in Normandy ) argues that the generally ignored Sicily campaign laid the foundation and set the trends for the decisive battles that were to follow in Italy and Northwest Europe. Sicily brought together the military commanders whose leadership ultimately decided the outcome of the war (Eisenhower, Tedder, Montgomery, Bradley, Patton); comprised the first real test of the military compatibility of the British and Americans; and served as a proving ground where the U.S. Army came into its own. D'Este is critical of the committee system of coalition warfare during this formative stage of the Allied partnership, citing the lack of strategic purpose in the campaign, the failure of Allied naval and air support, and the squandered opportunities that allowed the grossly outnumbered German army to pull off "one of the most dazzling strategic withdrawals in military history." The Germans, according to D'Este, came away from Sicily convinced that they had given as good as they got. Illustrations. History Book Club alternate.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Carlo D'Este, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel and a distinguished military historian, is the author of the acclaimed biographies Patton: A Genius for War and Eisenhower: A Soldier's Life, among other books on World War II. He lives in Massachusetts.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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They are always intensely researched and well written.
Gregory Short
Eisenhower, Montgomery, Patton, Alexander and Bradley as well as some of their subordinates are discussed and appraised.
Dave Schranck
I haven't finished the book yet but my impressions may be worth a few lines.
Steven Daedalus

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 19, 1997
Format: Paperback
Bitter Victory is an excellent portrayal of the Sicily campaign of WWII. It shows the battle as both the great victory it was, and as a series of mistakes and missed opportunities. The campaign as a predecessor for D-Day is presented also. I would have liked to have seen more names of officers and more information about specific units. The author is capable of being very technical, but for the most part stays away from military technical jargon. This is not a teaching treatise for West Point; nor is it fluff for an ABC mini-series. Overall, I recommend this book to those interested in the second World War. It is very unfortunate it is out of print.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dave Schranck on June 27, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
On July 10, 1943 while the great battle in the east at Kursk was being fought, the Western Allies took their first big step to get back on the continent by landing on Sicily. Within a few days Hitler will start transferring divisions back to southern Europe to protect his southern flank.

Bitter Victory is an exhaustive and brilliant telling of not only the Sicily invasion but of one of the most discordant times between the US-British alliance. The author will describe the battle for Sicily in great detail but will also cover the friction between Patton and Montgomery and the upper echelons of British and American Commands.
The author methodically takes you step by step from the Allies choosing of strategy to follow, to the North African campaign when the Allies were first thrown together to the contentious planning of Operation Husky, to the troubled landings on Sicily. Once on the island the author delivers a detailed day to day account of the battles as Patton and Montgomery move north to capture the island and the Axis forces defending it. The island was captured but much of the garrison was allowed to escape to Italy.

To get a better understanding of the invasion of Sicily, the author starts in North Africa and the Torch landings where the mistrust and animosity began. The early days of 2nd Corps under General Fredendall were not auspicious; Alexander and Montgomery looked down on the Americans from the very beginning and their attitudes wouldn't change throughout the war despite the fact that once competent commanders took over and with a little experience, the American soldier became as good a soldier as British or French etc. They both continued to undercut, and subordinate American involvement in Tunisia and later in Sicily.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Patrick R. Osborn on March 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
I strongly agree that it is unfortunate this title is out of print. This is the book that turned me on to D'Este's writing. He has an excellent knack for enlivening his very detailed but smooth reading narrative with colorful anecdotes not often seen elsewhere. His account of the fighting around Primosole Bridge (darkly foreshadowing Montgomery's later, very similar failure during Operation Market Garden) is particularly good. There is a lack of coverage of the air and naval war around Sicily, and how operations on the Eastern Front (where the Battle of Kursk was raging) affected the German conduct of the battle, if at all. However, these are very minor criticisms, and I view this book as a classic.
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Format: Paperback
I was quite please with Bitter Victory. It showed promise and in the end D'Este delivered. His succinct delivery of the facts combined with the narrative to connect the pieces is what sets this apart from other military history.

For the most part the beginning does a nice job in summing up what led to the Battle of Sicily. He gave a quick history of the allies and axis in North Africa and what and how the armies were shaped leading in to Sicily. The first of only two cons is in the rather lengthy political discussion that developed how the United States and Britain maneuvered around one another, how they though of one another and, ultimately, the command structure that ultimately was decided upon. While his summation is accurate and a good assessment his delivery feels a bit dry.

This is quickly remedied when he finally gets to the amphibious and airborne landings that led to the invasion. I was quite shocked to see how the Italians reacted, preferring to give up right away because they simply didn't believe in the war against the US and UK. That being said once the allies came up against the Germans it was precisely what I thought it would be. D'Este's narrative shines as he weaves the two armies, the US 7th and the UK 8th, together and shows how the marginalized US army ultimately made a name for itself under Patton while the Brits under Montgomery bogged down and couldn't go anywhere.

It was quite shocking to see how the US and UK treated one another. I kind of assumed that after the US showing at the the end of the North African Campaign the Brits had reassessed their allies and respected their army.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Wildcats302 on January 7, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Carlo D'Este has always been an author whose material I have wanted to delve into for sometime, and I finally decided to read his books on Sicily, Italy, and Normandy. I naturally read this one first since it came first in chronological order, and I must say if the other two are even close to the awesomeness that was this book I will be very impressed.

The book discusses the events leading up to Operation Husky, the Allied campaign in Sicily, the neighboring island to the West of Italy. D'Este gives background information on Operation Torch in Africa, as well as the planning (or lack of it) that went into Operation Husky. D'Este also delves into the various characters of this campaign such as Patton, Eisenhower, Monty, Bradley, as well as lesser known members of the Allied Forces, including Alexander, Tedder, Cunningham, etc. D'Este also explores the German and Italian forces main players such as Guzzoni, Hube, Kesselring, etc.

The actual part of the book concerning Operation Husky and its immediate aftermath are very well done as well, and an enjoyable read throughout. D'Este was fair to those who deserved it and called out those who deserved it as well at times in this book, which is refreshing to see when so many authors choose to just kiss up to the heroes of the Allies of WW2.

Overall, a great read on a lesser covered campaign of WW2!
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