... a very fine book ... brought home that World War II belongs to an era fast disappearing ... [Winslow] has both a knack with the pen and a nose for a thrilling tale ... Special forces are always cool—though 99% (by my rough estimate) of any big war’s work is conducted by regular joes—and books relating their exploits are always exciting, especially when related in so masterly a style as Mr. David’s ... Where Mr. David breaks the mold, and shows off his skill as a historian, are his lively chapters on the high-level debates among Winston Churchill, Gen. Sir Alan Brooke, Gen. George C. Marshall and Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower about the formation and purpose of the First Special Service Force ... These strategic and operational aspects generally get left out by lesser hands in the genre, but Mr. David has done good work in the archives to complement his interviews with the surviving veterans and their families. His explanations of weapons and tactics are clear and illuminating ... quite rare in encompassing not only the tip of the spear but also who threw the spear, how the spear was thrown, the people it was being thrown at and why it was thrown in the first place.
David gives us an added insight into how the Allies achieved that hard-fought victory. Although the book focuses on one small unit, it demonstrates the dedication, skill, and courage of all those who won that war ... Using primary sources, including interviews and memoirs left by participants, author David provides us with a riveting and harrowing account of this costly victory, fought by men we have gotten to know in earlier chapters of the book. That we know these men as real-life characters before the victory adds a dimension to this story and gives it a vitality so important in books about combat. David does a remarkable job in bringing these rugged, non-conforming men back to life ... David has written an important, highly engaging work that is, as novelist Raymond Chandler once wrote of a book he was reviewing, unputdownable.
The unit fought at two other places in Europe, which are only mentioned in passing. The author uses soldiers’ voices to good effect, but more detail about the other combat sites would have been welcome...While the story has been related before, this well-told account of a little-known special operations unit will appeal to readers interested in World War II and fans of military history.
... action-packed ... David vividly recounts their scaling a 200-foot sheer cliff wall on a cold, blustery night; engaging in heavy battle with the German defenders; and, after sustaining many casualties, emerging triumphant, having opened the way to Rome. He works the soldiers’ individual stories into the narrative, adding heart to the derring-do. This thrilling history will captivate readers.
... a vivid account ... The author follows the battle in close detail, with a focus on the memories of individual soldiers as well as the larger unit actions. David effectively captures the turmoil and chaos of the offensive as well as the incredible skill and determination of the force’s assault on a target many more-experienced units had attacked unsuccessfully. The pace of the story in the early chapters is sometimes slow and overly detailed, but the payoff is a real page-turner ... A solid account of a remarkable military unit whose story ought to be better known.