... captivating ... It is good to have the stories of these men between hard covers, for their heroics occurred three-quarters of a century ago and are in danger of disappearing ... These figures come alive in these pages.
The best parts of The Winter Army are the chapters about the preparation for war, which sounds odd but isn’t in this context.... Isserman’s history of the division balances nicely between the administrative details of fielding the division, and the hardships and losses that the division faced in battle --- some of them, in his opinion, unnecessary. The Winter Army is a sober, clear-eyed view of what it takes to train, equip and mount a fighting force, and the human cost borne by those brave men in the remote mountains of Italy who always pushed forward ... valuable and telling.
Isserman has created a fascinating study of this branch of specialized American soldiers during WWII, a bit of military history that will be of interest to WII buffs and readers who have been on the slopes or gazed in wonder at mountains’ majesty.
The bulk of Isserman’s text recounts the creation and training of the mountain troops, including the recruitment of wealthy white Americans who were already experienced skiers or climbers. The last part of the book chronicles the battles that the 10th Mountain Division engaged in during the final months of the war. While the deeply entrenched Nazi army in the Apennine Mountains continued to offer resistance to Allied forces, the perseverance of the mountain troops proved their creation was worth the effort ... This work will appeal to World War II buffs and fans of nonfiction adventure or sports.
Isserman draws on the division’s extensive archives, including personal accounts by many of the surviving soldiers. He focuses on several individuals from their induction to the end of the war, giving the book the feel of an old war movie with a cast drawn from all parts of the country. The division’s long time in training makes the narrative a slow build, but once the 10th Mountain gets to Italy, there’s plenty of payoff. A solid military history focused on an elite division that made its mark in the final stages of World War II.
Hamilton College history professor Isserman ...chronicles the U.S. Army’s first mountaineering unit from inception to its decisive role in the Allied invasion of Italy in this exhilarating account ... Drawing from letters sent by 10th Mountain Division soldiers to family and friends back home, Isserman provides frontline views of such famous battles as Riva Ridge and Mt. Belvedere, and relates how the unit’s veterans took part in the postwar rise of the American ski industry. The result is an entertaining, well-sourced blend of military and sports history.