Battle for Monte Cassino
George Forty

This book begins with a two page chronology of the fighting in Italy from the invasion of Sicily until the liberation of Rome.
This is followed by a background history of the fighting in Italy and an overview of the reasons why Monte Cassino was so important. In this chapter the rescue of the treasures from the monastery of Monte Cassino by troops from the Panzer-Division Hermann Göring led by Oberstleutnant Julius Schlegel is also covered briefly.
Two additional chapters providing background to the fighting follows; one providing information on the forces, organization, equipment and leading commanders of the Allied forces (British, American, French, Polish, Indian and New Zealand) and a similar one dealing with the German forces.

Apart from a chapter dealing with the present day state of the Monte Cassino site and a bibliography, the rest of the book covers the fighting in the four battles of Monte Cassino. Each of these chapters begin with an order of battle for both the Allied and German forces before discussing the fighting in detail from an Allied perspective.

The book is well-written and provides solid information on the efforts of the Allied forces to breakthrough, the photos are of high quality and well reproduced but unfortunately the vast majority is of the Allied forces, perhaps not surprising considering that the main source of the photos is the Imperial War Museum. Both the orders of battle and the maps included in the book are of high quality and very useful, both when reading the descriptions of the battles in this book and as a reference when reading other books.
The downside of this book is the fact that the author focuses on the Allied forces such much that the opposing German forces are barely covered at all (apart from the introductory chapter entitled “The Defenders”). The Allied forces taking part in each of the operations are covered in detail and we get a lot of eyewitness accounts from them, but virtually nothing for the point of view of the defenders.
If you are interested in the fighting in Italy and Monte Cassino in particular from an Allied perspective, I recommend this book.

(Reviewed by Marcus Wendel)
Thanks to the publisher for the review copy.

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