cover image Bitter Victory

Bitter Victory

Carlo D'Este. Dutton Books, $27.5 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-525-24471-4

With a veritable blizzard of primary-source support, D'Este ( Decision in Normandy ) argues that the generally ignored Sicily campaign laid the foundation and set the trends for the decisive battles that were to follow in Italy and Northwest Europe. Sicily brought together the military commanders whose leadership ultimately decided the outcome of the war (Eisenhower, Tedder, Montgomery, Bradley, Patton); comprised the first real test of the military compatibility of the British and Americans; and served as a proving ground where the U.S. Army came into its own. D'Este is critical of the committee system of coalition warfare during this formative stage of the Allied partnership, citing the lack of strategic purpose in the campaign, the failure of Allied naval and air support, and the squandered opportunities that allowed the grossly outnumbered German army to pull off ``one of the most dazzling strategic withdrawals in military history.'' The Germans, according to D'Este, came away from Sicily convinced that they had given as good as they got. Illustrations. History Book Club alternate. (August)