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

4.4 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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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.

Review

'A sorry tale of war, superbly told' Max Hastings 'Fills an important gap in this history of the Second World War' Times Literary Supplement --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: 20 x 20 x 20 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #257,704 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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This is a fine history, combining a wealth of in-depth, primary source research with a clear, easy-to-comprehend writing style. D'Este's book is an excellent military history, and it probably remains the definitive history of the campaign, and will be for some time.

I recently read Mitcham's "The Battle of Sicily: How the Allies Lost Their Chance for Total Victory," so I'll shorten comments on the campaign itself to focus on where the books differ, and especially on what D'Este adds.

D'Este primarily focuses on the Allied side. While that approach could easily fall back to the baseline of official histories, he goes way beyond them, and even criticizes them at points. He had personal conversations and correspondences with many of the Allied leaders, or used archival reports of those one-on-one conversations with other researchers. In doing so, he builds a rich portrait of the events that took place in the campaign, and uncovers the mindset of the leaders. He focuses on military events, so casual readers should be cautioned that much of the book focuses on generals and the movement of combat units, not so much everyday civilians, political leadership, or even soldiers.

It's clear from D'Este's account that Alexander was at fault for letting the overall ground campaign go on divergent paths. D'Este spends a lot of pages debunking the myth of a feud between Monty and Patton. Patton was somewhat insecure and untrustful of the British after key events, such as the general snobbery toward the Americans after Kasserine, and the particularly divisive move by Monty to relegate Bradley's corps to a defensive role in Sicily. Yet, Monty, as depicted here, changed his attitude once he realized that the Americans had fought well and were in the best position to succeed.
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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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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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