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The invasion of Sicily
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.