Atlantic Monthly Press
Atlantic Monthly Press
Atlantic Monthly Press

The Savage Storm

The Battle for Italy 1943

by James Holland

Acclaimed WWII historian James Holland both narrates and reframes the controversial first months of the Italian Campaign and sets a new standard in the chronicling of war

  • Imprint Atlantic Monthly Press
  • Page Count 624
  • Publication Date December 12, 2023
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-6160-4
  • Dimensions 6" x 9.25"
  • US List Price $32.00
  • Imprint Atlantic Monthly Press
  • Publication Date December 12, 2023
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-6105-5
  • US List Price $32.00

Following victory in Sicily, while the central command planned the spring 1944 invasion of France, Allied troops crossed into southern Italy in September 1943, expecting to drive Axis forces north and liberate Rome by Christmas. Italy quickly surrendered but German divisions fiercely resisted, and the hoped-for quick victory descended into one of the most challenging and protracted battles of the entire war.

James Holland’s The Savage Storm, chronicling the dramatic opening months of the Italian Campaign in unflinching and insightful detail, is unlike any campaign history yet written. Holland has always narrated war at ground level, but here goes further by chronicling events almost entirely through the contemporary eyes of those who were there on all sides and at all levels—Allied, Axis, civilians alike. Weaving together a wealth of letters, diaries, and other documents—from the likes of American General Mark Clark, German battalion commander Georg Zellner, New Zealand lance-corporal Roger Smith, legendary war reporter Ernie Pyle, and Italian politician Filippo Caracciolo—Holland traces the battles as they were experienced across plains, over mountains, through shattered villages and cities, in intense heat and, towards the end of December 1943, frigid cold and relentless rain.

Such close-up views persuade Holland to recast important aspects of the campaign, reappraising the reputation of Mark Clark himself and other senior commanders of the U.S. Fifth and British Eighth armies. Given the shortage of Allied shipping and materiel allocated to Italy because of the build-up for D-Day, more was expected of Allied troops in Italy than anywhere else, and, as accounts at the time attest, a huge price was paid by everyone for each bloodily contested mile. Putting readers vividly in the moment as events unfolded, with characters made unforgettable by their own words, The Savage Storm is a defining account of the pivotal months leading to Monte Cassino, and a landmark in the writing about war.

Praise for The Savage Storm:

Named a Best History Book of the Year by Waterstones

“James Holland is surely destined to become the Six Million Word Historian . . . Opening with a first-rate discussion of strategy from the Allied and Axis command perspectives, Mr. Holland establishes that Italy was the true fulcrum of the Allies’ efforts in the critical middle stage of the European war . . . Mr. Holland writes in the moment, as if all was playing out before him . . . He writes with a clarity meant to sate a literary, curious audience—one that has for too long been underserved.”—Alexander Rose, Wall Street Journal

“A captivating and dramatic account of the Allied invasion of Italy in September 1943 . . . Drawn from letters and diaries, Holland’s immersive narrative is told through the eye-level perspectives of dozens of subjects. Readers will be enthralled.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Holland effectively conveys the drama on the front lines while giving a comprehensive account of what was going on at the strategic level. A riveting, often appalling look at an under- recognized part of the fight against Hitler—a must for WWII buffs.”Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Using a wide array of diaries, letters, and memoirs from combatants, World War II historian Holland expertly weaves together the story of the fight for Italy. Readers interested in World War II history, especially the Mediterranean campaign, will enjoy this title.”—Library Journal

“Holland’s narrative is driven from the perspectives of a range of individuals, both civilian and combatant, which provides the reader with a deep insight into the human dimension of warfare. In particular, it evokes the feelings of loss and indeed grief as individuals are wounded or killed . . . The Savage Storm is a remarkable achievement by a historian at the height of his powers. Holland has successfully illustrated both the significance and the savagery of the Italian campaign for a new audience through a powerful and compelling narrative. This book will surely become an authoritative reference for all readers with an interest in understanding the European theatre in the Second World War.”Military History Magazine

“Through exhaustive research, explosively dynamic prose, and a sensitive ear, James Holland delivers a narrative history that awakens an age far removed from the one readers currently inhabit, yet makes memory as real as the pages on which Holland documents it . . . Like Erik Larson, Holland enhances his storytelling with letters, diaries, and a litany of other documents to create a spectacular nonfiction narrative experience that draws readers into the adventure, the hopelessness, and the perseverance of the characters in the theater of war.”—Shelf Awareness

“This illuminating account of a storied invasion fills in the gaps between strategy and reality.”—Washington Independent Review of Books

“Holland tells the story from the top down, the bottom up and from the view of civilians caught in the crossfire . . . A grand story of a neglected part of the history of World War II and those who lived through it . . . Conveys the story from the theater strategic level to company level, and from the cockpits of those who flew to battle to those slipping in the mud of their foxholes.”—Col. Gregory Fontenot, Association of the United States Army

Praise for Brothers in Arms:

“Mr. Holland sympathetically captures the chaos swirling inside the 30-ton beasts . . . [He] ably sets up his main characters: men he had the good fortune to interview, or those who left detailed diaries, letters and reminiscences behind . . . Brothers in Arms tells a superb story of World War II’s destruction with a breadth that small-unit narratives cannot match.”—Jonathan W. Jordan, Wall Street Journal

“Holland objects to the way the last year of the war has too often been presented as a seamless narrative of success, an inexorable advance from Normandy to Berlin. He concentrates instead on the forgotten little battles that crowded every day . . . The power of Holland’s book lies in the painful intimacy he creates. The reader gets to know these men as if they exist in the present . . . Impossible to put down. Seldom is war so vividly described . . . Caught up in the drama of battle, we sometimes forget the good men who died. Holland, to his credit, forces us to remember.”—Gerard DeGroot, Times (UK)

“James Holland’s greatest strength as a military historian is that he brings humanity to his work—a rare trait in a field of research that can sometimes feel dominated by those obsessed with numbers . . . He paints a remarkably vivid picture of what his subjects endured and achieved in the closing stages of the conflict. Like a fly on the white-painted interior wall of the Sherman tank, we observe the hot, fume-filled air that makes the crew choke as the extractor fan struggles to clear the smoke . . . A powerful and moving reminder that there is tragedy in statistics.”—Katja Hoyer, Spectator

“Holland brings this cramped universe vividly to life in his account of the long march of a single regiment, the Sherwood Rangers . . . Their story can be seen as a reflection of the British war as a whole and Holland tells it very well, using his trademark technique of immersive detail and focus on a cast of well-defined characters.”—Patrick Bishop, Telegraph

“James Holland accomplishes a major victory, a rarity, in bringing back to life unnerving tank battles . . . With his remarkable keen insights that provide riveting descriptions, the author transports the reader, day by day, hour by hour, to Victory in Europe (V-E Day). No narrative such as Holland’s, with such intimate details and carefully crafted fighting depictions, has ever been published before. Simply put, this book is of a great magnitude in the War Literature of the 20th Century.”—ARGunners

“The heroic exploits of the British Army’s Sherwood Rangers tank unit over the last 11 months of WWII are richly documented in this sweeping chronicle from historian Holland . . . Vivid eyewitness accounts, colorful character sketches, and lucid tactical discussions make this a must-read for military history buffs.”—Publishers Weekly

“A fine account of the brutal daily experiences of a celebrated British tank regiment . . . This book is the result of massive research in British and American archives, plus a few interviews with survivors, and the author includes a generous selection of maps and photos . . . One of the better recent blow-by-blow chronicles of a World War II unit.”—Kirkus Reviews

Praise for James Holland:

“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

“Academic histories are all very well, but at times it is a pleasure to sit back and wallow in an old-school military tale of flinty-eyed men doing battle. That is what James Holland, a seasoned craftsman, offers in Sicily ’43.”—Thomas E. Ricks, New York Times Book Review

“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), on Normandy 44

“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 . . . Holland is obsessed with war, but fortunately does not seem to love it. He recognizes its beauty, but also its vileness.”—Gerard DeGroot, Times (UK) on Sicily ’43

“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