The Day of Battle
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
Review Date: 18 Apr 2011
Full Title: The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944
When I came across The Day of Battle at the local library a little while ago, I did not know if I was ready for a 32-hour journey over 28 CDs for a single book. Now that I had just completed it today on my commute home, I was glad that I went for it, for it provided me with great detail on the Allied campaign in Italy, from Sicily to Rome, a campaign that I know somewhat little. Not having known of the author prior to this title, I enjoyed his manner of narration, which was readable, dramatic, and objective; later research led to my discovery of Rick Atkinson as a Pulitzer Prize winner, which did not surprise me much. The level of detail of events large and small was stunning in this book, with words constructing vivid images of tough fighting and bloodied bodies. Meanwhile, despite all the minute detail, I felt that the author had never allowed the reader to lose sight of the progression of the war in Italy on a grand level. The exhaustive research he must have conducted to gather the material for this book was clearly shown; his presentation of Mark Clark as a glory-hound, for example, was something new that I had learned via this work, as was the mustard gas incident (and the subsequent cover-up) that killed many.
Throughout the book, before Atkinson dove into some of the locations in Italy of WW2 consequence, he introduced them by reciting their historical, biblical, or mythological importance. While unimportant from a WW2 perspective, they added an interesting dimension to the book, and I enjoyed them very much. Hannibal, Odysseus, Brutus, and Paul the Apostle all graced the book in this manner.
I had reviewed this book in its audio book format. Jonathan Davis, the narrator, read Atkinson's words clearly and with good pace. His consistent quality over this lengthy work was much appreciated.
I found Day of Battle to be an excellent book about the Allied campaign in Italy during WW2. I would likely seek out for the precursor to this book, An Army at Dawn, to add to my to-read list.
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General Douglas MacArthur at Leyte, 17 Oct 1944