Historians too often neglect [the] emotional tapestry [of war]. War is characterised as arrows on a map, tables of munitions, cold casualty statistics. Holland’s great skill lies in bringing these warriors back to life with vivid prose. He’s an enormously prolific historian of the war, but each book he produces is constructed with great care and emotional commitment. He introduces the reader not just to well-known generals, but also to ordinary soldiers ... Since Holland never romanticises them, his account seems honest ... [Holland's] war is anarchy. His soldiers fight heroically, but also die brutally, torn to shreds or burnt to cinders. They’re racked with dysentery and typhoid or become gibbering wrecks in field hospitals. Holland is obsessed with war, but fortunately does not seem to love it. He recognises its beauty, but also its vileness.
Academic histories are all very well, but at times it is a pleasure to sit back and wallow in an old-school military tale of flinty-eyed men doing battle ...Holland fortifies his style with dollops of British slang ... As Johnson demonstrates, war is almost always more complex than we remember it. Mocking the academic style of history is easy, especially its awkward cant, but in the end, contemporary scholars are doing a good job of illuminating the forgotten intricacies of nationality, ideology, race and gender in wartime.
Historian Holland covers the operation giving attention in equal measure to the men, tactics, and weapons used by all sides ... Based on extensive archival research, firsthand accounts, and interviews, Holland paints a detailed portrait of both Sicily and the battle ... An excellent and accessible telling of the invasion that will be enjoyed by military history and World War II enthusiasts alike.