Monte Cassino: Ten Armies in Hell

( 1 )

Overview

The most horrific battles of World War II ring in the popular memory: Stalingrad, the Bulge, Iwo Jima, to name a few. Monte Cassino should stand among them. Waged deep in the Italian mountains beneath a medieval monastery, it was an astonishingly brutal encounter, grinding up ten armies in conditions as bad as the Eastern Front at its worst.

Now the battle has the chronicle it deserves. In Monte Cassino, military historian Peter Caddick-Adams provides a vivid account of how an ...

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Overview

The most horrific battles of World War II ring in the popular memory: Stalingrad, the Bulge, Iwo Jima, to name a few. Monte Cassino should stand among them. Waged deep in the Italian mountains beneath a medieval monastery, it was an astonishingly brutal encounter, grinding up ten armies in conditions as bad as the Eastern Front at its worst.

Now the battle has the chronicle it deserves. In Monte Cassino, military historian Peter Caddick-Adams provides a vivid account of how an array of men from across the globe fought the most lengthy and devastating engagement of the Italian campaign in an ancient monastery town. Not simply Americans, British, and Germans, but Russians, Indians, Georgians, Nepalese, Ukrainians, French, Slovaks, Armenians, New Zealanders, and Poles, among others, fought and died there. Caddick-Adams offers a panoramic view, surveying the strategic heights and peering over the shoulders of troops fruitlessly digging for cover in the stony soil. Here are incisive sketches of the theater commanders—Field Marshal "Smiling Albert" Kesselring, who outmaneuvered Rommel to command German troops in Italy, and the English aristocrat General Harold Rupert Leofric George Alexander, tall, upbeat, "and—crucially for Churchill—looked every inch a general." Caddick-Adams puts Cassino into the context of the Italian campaign and larger Allied war plans, and takes readers into the savage, often hand-to-hand combat in the bombed-out medieval town. He captures the brutal weather and unforgiving terrain—the rubble and rocky slopes that splintered dangerously under artillery barrages and caused shellfire to echo with such volume that men had trouble keeping their sanity due to acoustics alone. Over four months, the struggle would inflict some 200,000 casualties, and Allied planes would level the historic monastery-and eventually the entire town as well.

With scholarly care, insightful analysis, and narrative verve, Caddick-Adams has crafted a monumental account of one of World War II's lesser-known but no less devastating battles.

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Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post - Jonathan Yardley
…[an] excellent account of one of the bloodiest and most violent battles in human history…Caddick-Adams is on ground he knows well so far as maneuvers and strategy are concerned, and in a long passage in his preface, as elsewhere in his narrative, he conveys an almost painful sense of place.
From the Publisher
"Comprehensive and very well researched, Monte Cassino: Ten Armies in Hell is an important addition to our understanding of the ghastly campaign for central Italy in World War II."
—Rick Atkinson, author of the Liberation Trilogy

"Caddick-Adams uses the events of the battle to tell the stories of the armies that bled out around Cassino. His particular strength is his treatment of combat dynamics on both sides of the fighting line, from division headquarters to foxholes. This book is a learning experience for anyone interested in World War II on any level."
—Dennis Showalter, former President of the American Society for Military History and author of Tannenberg: Clash of Empires, 1914

"A superb account of one of the bloodiest battles of World War II. There is no shortage of histories of the agonizingly drawn-out debacle at Monte Cassino, but this is certainly one of the best."
—Kirkus Reviews (starred)

"Peter Caddick-Adams has brought highly perceptive and much-needed fresh analysis to this new account of the Cassino battles. Both authoritative and compellingly written, his immense knowledge and understanding of the Second World War exudes from every page. It will unquestionably remain the standard text on this bloody episode of the war for many years to come."
—James Holland, author of Dam Busters

"Peter Caddick-Adams has produced a thoughtful treatment of a crucial period of the Italian campaign. It should be read by anyone with an interest in the Second World War."
—Military History Monthly

"Peter Caddick-Adams's exceptional Monte Cassino: Ten Armies in Hell is a study in the challenges and possibilities of coalition warfare...Following the style of Richard Holmes and Max Hastings, Monte Cassino includes lucid analyses of high-level operational and strategic matters as well as choice quotes from the poor bloody infantry."
—The Wall Street Journal

Kirkus Reviews
A superb account of one of the bloodiest battles of World War II. Often stepping back to discuss leaders and histories of the numerous Allied units (British, American, French, Polish, Italian, Indian, Canadian), Caddick-Adams, lecturer in Military Studies at Britain's Defence Academy (Monty and Rommel: Parallel Lives, 2011), gives equal time to the fewer, if painfully efficient, German defenders. Using interviews, journals, letters and official records from both sides, he delivers a relentless, blow-by-blow description of small-unit actions enlivened by more than the usual number of vivid personal accounts. Caddick-Adams does not quarrel with historians who argue that Hitler won the Italian campaign since the Allies, despite winning every major battle, never threatened Germany. Few disagree that the February 22 bombing of the abbey was not only unnecessary, but also positively harmful. The German high command had announced that the monastery would not be occupied; the only deaths inside were 230 Italian civilians seeking refuge. German troops occupied the rubble, now an ideal defense, and repulsed attacks for a further three months. Fortunately for civilization, two Nazi officers had earlier urged and overseen the evacuation of the abbey's immense library, archives and paintings to safety in the Vatican. There is no shortage of histories of the agonizingly drawn-out debacle at Monte Cassino, but this is certainly one of the best.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199974641
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 4/22/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 489,076
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Caddick-Adams is a Lecturer in Military and Security Studies at the United Kingdom's Defence Academy and author of Monty and Rommel: Parallel Lives. He holds the rank of major in the British Territorial Army and has served with U.S. forces in Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

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Table of Contents

1. Roads to Cassino
2. An Italian WInter
3. France Fights On
4. A Very British Way of War
5. Blood and Guts
6. How to Destroy a Monastery
7. The Empire Strikes Back
8. Man versus Nature
9. Kiwis at Cassino
10. Poland the Brave
11. Winning Cassino
12. Trouble in the Liri
13. Pursuit from Cassino
14. Roads to Rome

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2014

    Difficult read

    Unfortunately this book does not include any maps of the areas discussed. Each chapter involves a different area and although I have visited the Abbey and the town of Cassino the lack of maps makes it difficult to follow the actions

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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