The Battle for the Eternal City
A readable and unique book which combines the skills of an historian with the vivid immediacy of an eye-witness
When the author, a wounded veteran of 21, arrived in Rome in 1944, the question most Italians asked him was: 'What took you so long?' What indeed? Were the Allied High Command to blame? Were the generals incompetent? Was the Anzio landing itself a tactical error? In 1956 Raleigh Trevelyan published, as The Fortress, the diaries he had surreptitiously kept in the Anzio trenches and, as a result, made contact with a number of Germans who had been only yards away from him twelve years earlier. Now that statesmen and generals have published their memoirs and official histories of the war have been written, it seems possible at long last to attempt an answer. This is a remarkable book, bringing together the skill and insight of an accomplished historian, the narrative drive of a gifted storyteller, and the rage and terror of a man experiencing at first hand the momentous events from Anzio to Monte Cassino and on to Rome. The reader follows the fate of the 'poor bloody infantry' on both sides of the line; sees a group of Romans adapting to the idea that the Germans are still there; penetrates the secrets of the Vatican; watches the Allied and German generals on the spot fight with their High Commands and hears what Hitler, Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin thought about it at the time.