Ortona Street Fight

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The battle for Ortona-Canada's first major triumph of World War II

December 20, 1943. Two Canadian infantry battalions and a tank regiment stand poised on the outskirts of a small Italian port town. They expect to take Ortona quickly. But the German 1st Parachute Division has other ideas. Hitler has ordered the city held to the last man.
Ortona Street fight is a riveting account of what is considered one of ...

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Ortona Street Fight

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The battle for Ortona-Canada's first major triumph of World War II

December 20, 1943. Two Canadian infantry battalions and a tank regiment stand poised on the outskirts of a small Italian port town. They expect to take Ortona quickly. But the German 1st Parachute Division has other ideas. Hitler has ordered the city held to the last man.
Ortona Street fight is a riveting account of what is considered one of the most epic battles that Canadian soldiers have ever fought.

With more than twenty books to his credit, Mark Zuehlke has been hailed as Canada's leading popular military historian. He is also an award-winning mystery writer. Mark lives in Victoria, British Columbia.

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Editorial Reviews

Alberta Views
"Zuehlke has an impressive way with battle descriptions and short, easy-to-understand overviews of military tactics and strategy...A good place to start if you want to learn more about the Second World War in Italy and Canada's contribution to it."
Quill & Quire
"True to the series' intent, the book is light and fast-paced...Readers new to military history will be genuinely moved by the courage and endurance of the soldiers and will learn about an important chapter in our national heritage...Ortona Street Fight provides a readable, unintimidating introduction to the material."
CM Magazine
"Gives a realistic account of the battle...It is described as adult nonfiction, but, because of the uncomplicated and straightforward text, it can easily be understood by a much younger audience. There are eight pages of very clear black and white photographs in the centre of the book. They are excellent and help to make the story very real...Recommended."
Children's Literature - Lois Rubin Gross
The World War II Battle of Ortona, dubbed "Little Stalingrad" by the world press, was a hard-fought, high-casualty fight between the German first parachute division and two Canadian infantry battalions. In peace time, Ortona was a resort town on the Adriatic Sea, but this was also its strategic importance. It was a port for military ships. Hitler considered the battle critical and ordered his soldiers to fight to the death. The Canadians, less savvy about house-to-house fighting, progressed slowly and with determination. Ironically, the major battles of this skirmish took place during Christmas week in 1943. In one attack, German troops were massacred while they sat around Christmas tables. Canadians heard Christmas carols played on a mandolin by one of their officers on a field radio. When German snipers were blown up along with a church tower, the reader is given to understand that the season has lost its meaning to the men in the field. Zuehlke has written about this battle before and more extensively, so this is a condensed version of the historic battle for younger readers. The book's action is rapid and, in keeping with the story, violent and disturbing. It underlines the fact that wars are fought a battle at a time and a strategy at a time. As Zuehlke points out, sometimes the strategies do not go as planned and battlefield commanders make spur-of-the-moment decisions on which victories turn. Despite Hitler's orders, some German's survived to fight again but there were high casualties on both sides as well as civilian casualties and the destruction of the town. A solid documentation of an important though lesser known battle for U.S. readers. This book highlights the contributions on the valiant Canadian troops to the war effort. Reviewer: Lois Rubin Gross
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781554693986
  • Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/1/2011
  • Series: Rapid Reads Series
  • Pages: 144
  • Sales rank: 270,131
  • Lexile: HL770L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 4.70 (w) x 7.20 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Formerly a journalist, Mark Zuehlke has been called the nation's leading popular military historian. Fascinated by Canada's military heritage, Mark first set to writing about the role Canadians played in World War II in Ortona: Canada's Epic World War II Battle following a discussion with several veterans in a Royal Canadian Legion. Mark went on to develop the Canadian Battle Series, which documents the Canadian World War II experience. He is also an award-winning mystery writer, whose popular Elias McCann series has garnered much critical praise and won the Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel. When not writing, Mark can often be found hiking, backpacking, cycling or tinkering around the Fernwood heritage house he shares with partner and fellow writer Frances Backhouse in Victoria, British Columbia.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 16, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Canadian triumph in WWII Italy

    If you are looking to expand your World War II collection which is heavy on books set in Germany, this might be the book for you. In 137 pages, the author lays out the battle for Ortona, a small town on Italy's Adriatic Sea. The ten-day battle was fought in close quarters with Canadian forces being victorious over a German parachute unit. Chapters cover one or more days in the month leading up to the battle; most are chronological. Eight pages of black and white photos (two photos per page) show the grim reality of war; one photo shows a dead Canadian soldier on the ground. Teens history buffs will like this short look about how war affected Canadians, Germans, and Italians during that bloody December. This book is part of Orca Book Publishers' Rapid Reads series for older readers. The books use low-level vocabulary which is perfectly suited for teens and adults who are struggling readers or those who are learning English. Thanks to Puget Sound Council for this review copy.

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