Book Review: Eighth Army in Italy, 1943-1945: The Long Hard Slog


by Richard Doherty

Bernsely, S. Yorks: Pen & Sword/Drexel Hill, Pa.: Casemate, 2007. Pp. xi, 259. Illus., maps, notes, biblio., index. $39.95. ISBN:1844156370

Although associated in popular memory with the campaign in North Africa , in fact the British Eighth Army spent far more time campaigning in Italy , a front largely overlooked in most accounts of World War II.  In Eighth Army in Italy, Irish military historian Richard Doherty tells the story of the Italian Campaign and the Eighth Army?s role in it. 

This is very well done "traditional" military history, and "telleth of much fight."  It covers, often in great detail, the organization, leadership, and operations of the "British" -- actually British, Canadian, French, Indian, New Zealander, South African, Polish, and even Italian (in fact a lot of Italians) -- Eighth Army that fought alongside the equally multi-ethnic American Fifth Army from September of 1943 through to the surrender of German forces in the Po Valley in May of 1945. Doherty writes well, and makes even complex actions very clear.  Despite an occasional lapse, he is careful to define the numerous technical terms, acronyms, and abbreviations. 

There are many interesting asides, providing brief back-ground on notable individuals or organizations, such as the Polish Corps.  Doherty is critical where it is reasonable to be critical, but also gives credit where it is merited; he is one of the few historians of the campaign to discuss the contributions of Italian troops and partisans to the Allied success. 

A good book for those interested in the war in Europe and the Italian Campaign.

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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