Sunday, 30 August 2009

Monte Cassino by Matthew Parker

This book presented the story of a battle I had only ever heard of in passing. It's a tragic story of blood and death.

The Germans in Italy had build a massive line of fortifications and defensive positions across Italy to keep the allies in the south. Up against this line of stone and lead the allied forces butted their heads.

The fortress complex of Monte Cassino was extremely strong and caused misery and death on a D-Day scale for weeks and weeks. Yet despite this cost in the lives of young men who has heard of the battles of Monte Cassino?

This excellent book, is very readable, flows in an excellent style and combines historic narrative with survivors anecdotes to produce an engaging, perhaps even enthralling, story that is hard to put down.

I learnt a lot while reading this book. I literally had no idea about the battles covered here. I was astounded to read just how lethal and persistant the conflict in Italy was. Companies reduced to 10% strength and still being left in the line because no one can reach them to relieve them. Men without food or water stuck on exposed rock surrounded on three sides under fire day and night and yet staying in position not giving an inch. I was astounded by the tail contained herein, astounded that such heroic horror had escaped my knowledge until now.

In summary this was a terrific read.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Barbarossa : The Russian German Conflict 1941-1945 by Alan Clark

This non fictory book takes an overview look at the entire conflict between Germany and Russia in world war two.

It's written from a top down point of view, spening much time dealing with the German leadership and it's interactions and it's effects on the campaign and the battles therein.

We do get a few anecdotes of individuals on the front line but more often follow the decisions made by generals at the front as they try to both please their masters in Berlin and counter the assaults being pushed forwards by the Stavka.

As you move forwards through the book you follow the various campaigns in chronological order, from the initial incursion and the poor Russian response, right through until the Russian forces enter Berlin.

I found the book well written and well paced. The word for word dicussions between Hitler and his staff were very enlightening. You get to see how his mind and abilities seemed to fade throughout the war right up until the end. the tactics and technology advancements were also covered in a broad way, that showed me the various tides to the war that until reading this book I'd had no idea about.

All in all a good read for anyone with an interest in the Russion-German side of WWII.


First printed in 1964, reprinted in 2001 by Cassell & co