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Sicily 1943: The debut of Allied joint operations (Campaign)
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 26, 2013
If you have an interest in reading about the Allied invasion of Sicily for the first time, this operational summary is good and worthwhile but from my perspective this campaign could have used another ten or more pages to make the summary more complete.
In part, this is because instead of having to describe the usual two armies there's four armies: American, British, German and Italian. This will double the number of commanders, armed forces, battle plans to describe and complicate the description of the campaign.

This campaign has the usual chapters: strategic introduction, a Chronology, Opposing Forces, Opposing Plans, the Campaign and the closing Perspective.
The introduction is brief but adequate and its amended in a secondary fashion in the other chapters. It describes the setbacks the Axis forces have had in North Africa and Russia; how Operation Husky impacted Hitler in shutting down Operation Citadel. The military significance of the islands of Pantelleria and Sardinia are also covered. The two page chronology was helpful in giving the reader a quick synopsis of the campaign. The chapters on commanders was brief and describes only the top commanders. Generals Bradley, Leese and others are not mention here but will have a slight blurb in later chapters.
Of the early chapters, the most complete would be "Opposing Forces". Mr Zaloga does a good job of explaining the land and air forces of each side, giving the reader an easier time in assimilating the many actions in the campaign. A condensed listing of forces is included. The 56 page campaign is also good with the author spending a lot of time on the difficulties of the opening land and air invasion and the immediate response of the Italians in trying to destroy the Allies on the beach. Attention is also given to General Montgomery in his prosecuting the battle and the ramifications of those actions will have on the Americans. The coverage thins a little in the later stages of the battle though the coverage of the Axis retreat to the mainland by way of the Strait of Messina was good. The profiles created of Montgomery, Patton and Alexander were brief but were still able to show how their personalities impacted the campaign and each other but once again not to the degree that other books have presented.

The maps were very good and were aligned with the storyline very well, allowing the reader to visually study the maps alongside the appropriate story. There were six 2-D maps and three 3-D maps. All maps were in color and included unit dispositions. The sharp definitions of the 3-D maps were also appreciated. Three color action scenes were included. The many excellent photos adds to the overall impression of the book.

Even though Mr Zaloga has packed this campaign with a lot of operational information for a sub 100 page account, he has slighted the personal aspects and friction that was generated between each of the allies of both sides. The confrontations that arose, especially on the Allied side were monumental yet the author only alludes to it in the most superficial manner. There were also many mistakes made in the planning and execution of the campaign that allowed most of the Axis troops to escape and that wasn't covered sufficiently or of providing adequate critical analysis. There was much discord between the services as well. The navy's lack of determination in supporting the ground forces was hinted at but there was so much more to tell. Its not the author's fault; he's working within the limitations set by Oprey and as such has done a good job within those restraints but reading a full length account will give the reader a clearer, fuller understanding of the whole campaign and the extremes that were only hinted at in this Osprey Campaign.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on January 31, 2013
The 1943 invasion of Sicily was bigger than D-Day and the subsequent campaign featured some dramatic moments (the Patton-Montgomery "race to Messina", the US Navy's mass aircraft fratricide) as well as some bitterly fought set-piece battles (the Paras at Primosole Bridge, the Canadians at Assoro, Leonforte and Agira, the Herman Goering's defense counterattacks against the beaches). But the Allies failed to turn numerical superiority into more than a frustrating campaign against a skillful German economy-of-force effort that culminated in an evacuation across the straits of Messina in the face of Allied airpower.

This Osprey Campaign monograph focuses on the operational ground fighting, although, given the space constraints imposed by the format, it does an admirable job of building in some of the strategy that led to Sicily, the air and naval campaigns, the commanders involved and the opposing forces (not ignoring the Italians). While Sicily has been covered in English-language history writing - the US, British and Canadians all have serviceable official history accounts readily available - this volume provides an effective overview that is informed by both the most recent published accounts as well as archival research.

Again, the series format provides this volume with extensive black-and-white photograph illustrations, several excellent situation and tactical maps, while a "directed telescope" on tactical-level action is provided through three artist paintings of significant low-level actions (Colonel Darby of the Rangers mans a 37mm AT gun, a Siebel ferry runs the gauntlet off Messina, and Ju 88s find out why daylight operations are no longer a good idea) that also provides insights on the hardware involved and how it played a role in the larger scope of events that is the primary focus.

While the size and scope of Sicily makes it hard to fit into the series' format, the author has been able to fit a great deal into this volume and it is certainly worth reading, not only for Sicily's importance as opening the Italian campaign, but what it showed about the evolution of both sides in the ground war in the west.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon February 11, 2013
Most readers are likely to view the 1943 Campaign in Sicily through the lens of the "Race to Messina" between U.S. General George S. Patton and British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, thanks to the 1970 film Patton. However, Steven Zaloga's volume Sicily 1943 in Osprey's Campaign series sheds some light on the actual campaign and does a great job integrating perspectives from both sides. Oftentimes, the Italian Army is either ignored or denigrated, but Mr. Zaloga shows great objectivity in including details about Italian units, operations and accomplishments. Sicily 1943 provides an excellent introduction to this campaign, with a tight narrative and excellent graphic support.

The volume has the normal introductory Osprey sections on opposing plans, forces and leaders. In particular, the author provides good background on the Italian effort to build coastal defense bunkers on Sicily and the role of the Livorno Division as a mobile reserve. He also does a great job describing how the two German divisions ended up on Sicily through decisions by local German commanders, not Hitler or the OKH in Berlin. Although the Hermann Goring Division has often been described as an "elite" formation, the author writes that, "the division was incomplete, poorly trained in combined arms, and its sub-units were poorly integrated. Kesselring's main concern about the division was its poor leadership." On the Allied side, the author notes that all three of Montgomery's British divisions were comprised of experienced, combat veterans. In the planning section, he notes that the Axis guessed wrong about Allied intentions, anticipating that the Balkans or Sardinia was the next target. Not Sicily.

The campaign narrative is 58 pages long and is supported by six 2-D maps and three 3-D BEV maps. Separate sections cover the airborne assaults, the British 8th Army landing, the US 7th Army landing and the Axis counterattacks. The detail provided is often fairly tactical, discussing specific actions such as the Italian armored counterattack with R-35 tanks at Gela. The B/W photos included are excellent and along with the three battle scenes by Howard Gerrard (Italian tank attack at Gela; German Ju-88 bombers attacking the beachhead; the German evacuation), help to convey a "feel" for the campaign. The author's narrative also helps to demonstrate the "fog of war," with German commanders initially thinking that their armored counterattacks were more successfully than they actually were. The loss of 10 of 17 Tiger tanks in one day also helps to dispel some of the mythology behind that tank. On the other hand, Allied setbacks - particularly with paratroopers - are discussed in some detail. As usual, Mr. Zaloga manages to tease out additional military details that are not evident in other books on this subject and he offers insightful commentary on each sides' mistakes and accomplishments. Overall, Sicily 1943 is a solid campaign history.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 5, 2013
This book, as part of the Osprey "Campaign" series, is relatively short. It is 96 pages in length, about a third of which consists of illustration. One would think that this short length restricts the book to a very rudimentary discussion of its topic. However the author, Steven Zaloga, a very prolific writer of books in the Osprey series (he has written over 80), does an excellent job at providing much more than this despite the restrictions imposed on him by this format.

Mr. Zaloga does an excellent job at succinctly summarizing the important parts of this campaign in a manner superior to even full length books on the series. This short book compares very favorably with Samuel Mitcham's almost 400 page book "The Battle of Sicily: How the Allies Lost Their Chance for Total Victory". Mr. Zaloga even betters Mr. Mitcham in that he mentions many relevant facts that Mr. Mitcham does not in his own book. For example, both books discuss many of the weaknesses of the Herman Goering division such as the fact, because it was a very newly formed unit, that it was missing a variety of its components (i.e., many artillery and pioneer sections), it had never worked together as a group and that it had little practice in combined armed operations, as a formed group, albeit its cadre consisted of many experienced men and officers with significant experience and very good morale. Mr. Zaloga, unlike Mr. Mitcham, however points out the very important fact that many officers in that division did not have the requisite experience or skill sets to lead this division which was so important in Sicily's defense. As a result quite a few were relieved of their commands after the first encounters with allied troops. Mr. Mitcham, in his book, also does not discuss why the allies were not more aggressive in using their naval forces to prevent the axis escape across the straights of Messisna. Mr. Zaloga, on the other hand, does provide an assessment (i.e., allied indecisiveness along with a fear by the English Commander, Cunningham, of suffering major losses in confined losses - not an unfounded fear considering axis military forces in the area along with Cunningham's experiences with the Royal Navy at Gallipoli [this is something Mr. Mitcham does not mention]).

Mr. Zaloga's book follows the typical Osprey format in providing an overview of the strategic picture, for both sides, leading to the campaign, the commanders, the forces available and then how the campaign followed through. It is well illustrated with both maps highlighting the major battles and contemporaneous photographs that do a very good job at showing major equipment involved, leaders and men and, of course, the topology that so favored the defenders.

In short an excellent book that, despite its very short length, provides an impressive synopsis of the campaign. Five stars.
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on December 28, 2014
nice book
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 29, 2013
This book includes operations by Italian forces in support of Germany in World War. It has information on the role of Italy in Barbarossa.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 7, 2013
Covers the problems and successes of the first Joint Amphibious Assault of WWII. After the initial invasion it focuses more on the lines of advance and unit rather than the individual battles though. I found that a little disappointing, but that is me. Seemed like the author may have been a bit rushed to print, something I've noticed in Osprey's recent books by their more popular authors. (Specifically Steven Zaloga and Mark Stille). Both of these historians are excellent researchers and it would behoove Osprey to give them the time to do so. A better book is more impressive and lasting than a quick one.
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0 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2013
If you want cliffs notes type of book, this just doesn't due justice to that campaign, hard to read maps that didn't really match the storylines described. I would have given it less stars but it is a cheap buy so I can't do that.

I am still waiting for the definative book on Operation Husky.
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