From Publishers Weekly
Shelton, who writes for Men's Journal and Ski magazine, traces the story of America's 10th Mountain Division Ski Troops from 1940, when the idea for a military mountaineering/skiing division was first proposed, through 1945, when the division was briefly deployed (for 114 days) in northern Italy. Inspired by Finnish resistance to invading Soviet armies in 1939, a small group of New England ski enthusiasts figured America might also need cold-weather-capable resistance, should the Nazis decide to invade the U.S. via Canada. Although the War Department was unclear where such specialized troops might actually be used, authorization to form and train a ski division was granted after Pearl Harbor and the Italian invasion of Greece. The skiers were initially deployed to capture Kiska, a Japanese-held island in the Aleutians, but by the time the skiers arrived, the Japanese had evacuated. Indeed, the 10th spent most of WWII training and waiting for assignment. In the end, it was only their grit, not their special skills, that counted. Sent to capture Monte Belvedere, to secure Allied access to Bologna, they had no skis or climbing equipment, just the usual guns and grenades. After the war, many survivors made careers in the newly developing recreational skiing industry or in various outdoors-related businesses. Relying mostly on unpublished or obscure records of participants' experiences, Shelton's account is earnestly enthusiastic but curiously underwhelming, perhaps because the 10th Division never actually used its extensive ski training in the war.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Like McKay Jenkins' The Last Ridge
[BKL O 1 03], Shelton's history of the 10th Mountain Division tells the story of a military unit initially composed of downhill skiers and outdoorsmen, many of them refugees from the Nazis, that was organized to meet a possible German invasion through Canada. One regiment of the division served in the miserably cold and snowy Kiska operation in Alaska, and when it returned, learned that the division had been filled out with draftees from just about everywhere and was training in Alabama, of all places. Eventually the 10th got overseas, used its training and fitness--if not much of its mountain gear--in Northern Italy, took a key ridge, then fought its way down to the Po Valley and on to the foothills of the Alps. Shelton and Jenkins cover the division's combat career in about equal detail, though each man emphasizes different aspects of it. Shelton covers the division's postwar role in the American outdoors and environmental movements rather more extensively. Roland GreenCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved