Atlantic Monthly Press
Atlantic Monthly Press
Atlantic Monthly Press

Sicily ’43

The First Assault on Fortress Europe

by James Holland

A major new history of one of World War II’s most crucial campaigns—the first Allied attack on European soil—by the acclaimed author of Normandy ’44 and a rising star in military history

  • Imprint Atlantic Monthly Press
  • Page Count 640
  • Publication Date November 03, 2020
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-5718-8
  • Dimensions 6" x 9.125"
  • US List Price $30.00
  • Imprint Atlantic Monthly Press
  • Publication Date November 03, 2020
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-5720-1
  • US List Price $30.00

On July 10, 1943, the largest amphibious invasion ever mounted took place, larger even than the Normandy invasion eleven months later: 160,000 American, British, and Canadian troops came ashore or were parachuted onto Sicily, signaling the start of the campaign to defeat Nazi Germany on European soil. Operation HUSKY, as it was known, was enormously complex, involving dramatic battles on land, in the air, and at sea. Yet, despite its paramount importance to ultimate Allied victory, and its drama, very little has been written about the 38-day Battle for Sicily.

Based on his own battlefield studies in Sicily and on much new research, James Holland’s Sicily ’43 offers a vital new perspective on a major turning point in World War II and a chronicle of a multi-pronged campaign in a uniquely diverse and contained geographical location. The characters involved—Generals George Patton and Bernard Montgomery among many—were as colorful as the air and naval battles and the fighting on the ground across the scorching plains and mountaintop of Sicily were brutal. But among Holland’s great skills is incorporating the experience of on-the-ground participants on all sides—from American privates Tom and Dee Bowles and Tuskegee fighter pilot Charlie Dryden to British major Hedley Verity and Canadian lieutenant Farley Mowat (later a celebrated author), to German and Italian participants such as Wilhelm Schmalz, brigade commander in the Hermann Göring Division, or Luftwaffe fighter pilot major Johannes “Macky” Steinhoff and to Italian combatants, civilians and mafiosi alike—which gives readers an intimate sense of what occurred in July and August 1943.

Emphasizing the significance of Allied air superiority, Holland overturns conventional narratives that have criticized the Sicily campaign for the vacillations over the plan, the slowness of the Allied advance and that so many German and Italian soldiers escaped to the mainland; rather, he shows that clearing the island in 38 days against geographical challenges and fierce resistance was an impressive achievement. A powerful and dramatic account by a master military historian, Sicily ’43 fills a major gap in the narrative history of World War II.

Praise for Sicily ’43:

“Holland’s great skill lies in bringing these warriors back to life with vivid prose. He’s an enormously prolific historian of the war, but each book he produces is constructed with great care and emotional commitment . . . On the internet, armchair generals argue endlessly over battles like Sicily, reducing them to the sanitised, smooth movements of tiny lead soldiers over carefully reconstructed terrain. Holland is not like that. His war is anarchy. His soldiers fight heroically, but also die brutally, torn to shreds or burnt to cinders. They’re racked with dysentery and typhoid or become gibbering wrecks in field hospitals. Holland is obsessed with war, but fortunately does not seem to love it. He recognises its beauty, but also its vileness.”—Gerard DeGroot, Times (UK)

“[An] expert account . . . Marshaling a wealth of primary and secondary sources into an engrossing narrative, Holland fills a yawning gap in histories of WWII. This magisterial account is a must-read for military history fan.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Holland thoroughly describes events from the planning of Husky by commanders, the individual actions of troops as they fought across the island, and the Allied effort to capture the city of Messina from battle-hardened German soldiers. Based on extensive archival research, firsthand accounts, and interviews, Holland paints a detailed portrait of both Sicily and the battle. An excellent and accessible telling of the invasion that will be enjoyed by military history and World War II enthusiasts alike.”—Library Journal (starred review)

Praise for Normandy ’44:

“While the invasion’s first wave consumes half the book’s ammunition, Mr. Holland holds plenty in reserve for the Allied crawl through hedgerow country, the battle with Hitler’s panzers at Caen, the brilliant breakout of Operation Cobra seven weeks after D-Day, and the corpse-strewn German retreat through the Falaise Gap . . . Detail and scope are the twin strengths of Normandy ’44 . . . Mr. Holland effectively balances human drama with the science of war as the Allies knew it.”—Jonathan W. Jordan, Wall Street Journal

“A superb account of the invasions that deserves immense praise . . . To convey the human drama of Normandy requires great knowledge and sensitivity. Holland has both in spades.”Times (UK)

“Any brief analysis of an undertaking of this size cannot do justice to Holland’s impressive organization of facts, figures and details . . . Every detail is scrupulously referenced . . . As an account of this mighty and vitally significant clash of armies on many battlefields Normandy ’44 stands as richly impressive, hard to surpass.”—William Boyd, Times Literary Supplement

“Describes with exhilarating pace and detail where the contents of all those rural Hampshire depots and tank parks ended up between early June and late August in 1944. This may sound like a story you have heard and seen before, but this version—even though the outcome is familiar—contains an ingredient too infrequently found in history books: it is exciting . . . Adrenaline flows here from a thrilling sense of being close to the people making the decisions, firing the weapons, and witnessing enemy tanks come rumbling around a corner.”Strong Words Magazine

“Holland has a brisk style that effortlessly combines narrative history with combat memoirs from both sides, creatively balancing the general’s and sergeant’s points of view of the daily grind of close quarters combat . . . Highly readable . . . Well written and illustrated, with some outstanding maps, his book really does a marvelous job of showing the significance of D-Day in the Great Crusade to liberate Europe and defeat Nazi Germany.”New York Journal of Books

“This hefty, scrupulously balanced history of the Allied invasion of northern France goes beyond some of the well-known events of D-Day, thanks to Holland’s meticulous research and clear-eyed view of the big picture . . . An excellent and engrossing new look at the Normandy invasion.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Holland thoroughly describes the tactical events leading up to and immediately following D-Day, as well as the many challenges, mistakes, and myths surrounding the battle itself. Personal narratives from both Allied and German officers and air and ground troops, along with technical descriptions of weapons manufacture and use, provide an absorbing perspective on one of the most significant events in modern military history. Meticulous attention to detail combined with a conversational writing style make this World War II chronicle accessible for most general readers.”Library Journal (starred review)

“Holland’s reappraisal of the battle of Normandy will take its rightful place, with earlier accounts by Stephen E. Ambrose, Max Hastings, and others, at the head of the platoon . . . Offers a strikingly personal and, at times, horrifically vivid recounting of the various campaigns and the appalling carnage they produced . . . From Omaha Beach to the Falaise Gap, this is thoughtful, crisply written military history.”Booklist

“Veteran military historian Holland knows the drill but doesn’t hesitate to wander from the script . . . A skillful writer, Holland delivers the occasional jolt, such as a mild rehabilitation of Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery. Even contemporaries criticized his careful preparation and slow advances, but the author points out that this took maximum advantage of superior Allied resources and saved lives. Far from the first but among the better histories of the Allied invasion of Europe.”Kirkus Reviews

“[A] major new history . . . A comprehensive look at less sensational or dramatic aspects, such as the economics and logistics of war.”—Lenny Picker, Publishers Weekly

Praise for James Holland:

“Highly detailed . . . The interplay of personal stories with the broader strategic picture makes this book especially illuminating . . . A fascinating must-read for World War II aficionados.”Kirkus Reviews (starred review) on Big Week

“James Holland’s The War in the West is set fair to become one of the truly great multivolume histories of the Second World War.”—Andrew Roberts, New York Times-bestselling author of The Storm of War: A New History of the Second World War and Napoleon: A Life

“A fascinating story of how the fortunes of war changed in obvious—and particularly not so obvious—ways.”—Col. Eric M. Walters, Military Review on The Allies Strike Back

“Holland puts the case for Allied technological and military skills as a vital factor in turning the war’s tide . . . Ranks as a towering work of historical research and writing.”BBC History Magazine on The Allies Strike Back

“This is narrative history as intimate, intricate tapestry . . . Mr. Holland’s success is built in part on an engaging writing style and in part on a genuinely fresh approach to events that have been so often—and apparently definitively—recounted . . . Exceptional . . . Epic.”Wall Street Journal on The Rise of Germany

“Impeccably researched and superbly written . . . Holland’s fascinating saga offers a mixture of captivating new research and well-considered revisionism.”Guardian on The Rise of Germany