The Fortress: A Diary of Anzio and After Paperback – November 10, 2011
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- Publisher : Faber and Faber; Main edition (November 10, 2011)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 224 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0571260411
- ISBN-13 : 978-0571260416
- Item Weight : 9.9 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.32 x 0.57 x 8.5 inches
Best Sellers Rank:
#8,158,622 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #53,703 in World War II History (Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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When I read it I knew virtually nothing about Anzio, except as the name of a major battle in World War II.
Trevelyan's account is not concerned with the larger strategic picture. The fact that the Anglo-American invasion of the Italian mainland was struggling, on the west coast and the east coast, led the strategists to propose a fresh invasion at Anzio, leapfrogging the initial western landings across from Sicily.
This was supposed to be a relatively easy occupation of lightly defended territory, providing a good port for landing military supplies and personnel.
Tactically, the invasion was less rapid than had been planned, and the Germans were able to recover quickly, dig in, reinforce, and improvise a much stronger defence than had been expected.
Trevelyan's story plunges the reader into this desperate see-saw battle.
I had become reasonably familiar with the later Allied invasion of Normandy, through Chester Wilmot's "The Struggle For Europe", and Cornelius Ryan's "The Longest Day".
I had read about the earlier trial-invasion raid at Dieppe, that lasted less than one day.
The battle at Anzio, I found out, was just as desperate as the fighting at Dieppe, but with no plan or intention to withdraw from the beaches. Perhaps surprisingly, the fighting in and around Anzio had little of the relative fluidity, and none of the comparative speed, of the Normandy battles.
I can only surmise that it was from experiences like Dieppe and Anzio that the tactics for seaborne invasions, supported by glider-troops and paratroops, developed and strengthened.
In fact, to my amazement, much of Trevelyan's story sounded like the bitter trench-warfare of the Western Front in World War I.
Just as amazing is the fact that when Trevelyan is pulled out of the front line, he is able to go to a nearby off-shore island that is untouched by the war. The contrast between the hand-to-hand fighting, brutal patrolling, and trench-positions, compared with the sub-tropical beach-resort dream-like island is stunning.
Trevelyan writes vividly, and engagingly. When I finished the book I wished there was more.
It is, unfortunately, only a short book. I do not think Trevelyan wrote more about his war experiences, although he has become an authority on European art and culture.
I have been pleased, since reading "The Fortress" to see that Trevelyan (and, I think, his brother), is cited in longer, more detailed, later books about Anzio.
Like other books by combat soldiers in World War II (such as Keith Douglas's "Alamein to Zem Zem"), this is war from a soldier's perspective: the kind of personal account that Cornelius Ryan weaves together to make an overview.
You can read the tactical and strategic discissions of a campaign. Trevelyan's book shows the human reality, on the ground, under fire. Highly recommended.
John Gough firstname.lastname@example.org