11 July 2011

Sacrifice On The Steppe - The Italian Alpine Corps in the Stalingrad Campaign, 1942-1943

When Germany’s Sixth Army advanced to Stalingrad in 1942, its long-extended flanks were mainly held by its allied armies—the Romanians, Hungarians, and Italians. But as history tells us, these flanks quickly caved in before the massive Soviet counter-offensive which commenced that November, dooming the Germans to their first catastrophe of the war. However, the historical record also makes clear that one allied unit held out to the very end, fighting to stem the tide—the Italian Alpine Corps.

As a result of Mussolini’s disastrous alliance with Nazi Germany, by the fall of 1942, 227,000 soldiers of the Italian Eighth Army were deployed along a 270km front along the Don River to protect the left flank of German troops intent on capturing Stalingrad. Sixty thousands of these were elite mountain troops incongruously put into combat on the vast steppe. When the Don front collapsed under Soviet hammerblows, it was the Alpine Corps that continued to hold out until it was completely isolated, and which then tried to fight its way out through both Russian encirclement and “General Winter,” to rejoin the rest of the Axis front. One division was all but destroyed, but two others were able to emerge with survivors. In the all-sides battle across the snowy flatlands, thousands were killed and wounded, and even more were captured. By the summer of 1946, ten thousand survivors returned to Italy from Russian POW camps.

The consequences of Mussolini’s decision to send troops to Russia is complex and unsettling, but most of all it is a human story. Raw courage and endurance blend with human suffering, desperation and altruism in the epic saga of this withdrawal from the Don lines, including the demise of thousands and survival of the few.

Available from:

The Last Good War: The Faces and Voices of World War II

World War II remains one of the most galvanizing and defining events in the history of America. Seemingly overnight, the entire nation unified behind a singular cause. By 1945, the size of the U.S. armed forces had grown from two to twelve million men and women of every color, religion, and creed. Young people from every walk of life were inducted and volunteered. America had quickly and fiercely established itself as a global superpower, and an entire generation's identity was forged, in part, by what many still refer to as the "last good war."

Sixty years later, a young photographer named Thomas Sanders began traveling the country photographing hundreds of World War II veterans. The more he shot, the more he listened, and the more captivated he became by their memories of the war. Veronica Kavass, a writer and interviewer with StoryCorps, joined the project and spent countless hours with these men and women, recording their vivid accounts as Tom recorded their storied faces. "They are a living record of an incredibly historic time," Sanders says. "We have so much to learn from their experiences." He became determined to see that the two million living veterans were celebrated and remembered.
The Last Good War: The Faces and Voices of World War II is a chronicle of courage and hardship, sacrifice and determination. The harsh reality of combat is tempered by tender, poignant moments. The overwhelming anguish of lost brothers-in-arms sits alongside stories of enduring friendships. The war brought Americans in touch with people from all over the world – some they fought and some they fought next to, from the beaches of Normandy to the frozen plains of Russia, the North African deserts and the mountains of Japan. They came, these volunteers and draftees, from everywhere and for every reason: from the young woman pulled from her college and covertly trained to break German submarine codes, to the soldier who stormed Hitler’s castle home, these pilots, soldiers, marines, and sailors each provide a unique window into American history.

There are two million veterans still alive today, but with each passing day there are fewer and fewer. The images and memories of these men and woman, collected in these pages, preserve a profound piece of America’s history. Their past offers us a lasting and powerful perspective on today's world, and defines the true price of freedom.

This is the story of World War II through the veterans who lived it.

Visit the Mini-site for The Last Good War for preview pages, author information and more.

Available from:
Welcome Books

Voices of the Bulge - Untold Stories from Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge

The powerful German counteroffensive operation code-named “Wacht am Rhein” (Watch on the Rhine) launched in the early morning hours of December 16, 1944, would result in the greatest single extended land battle of World War II. To most Americans, the fierce series of battles fought from December 1944 through January 1945 is better known as the “Battle of the Bulge.” Almost one million soldiers would eventually take part in the fighting.

Different from other histories of the Bulge, this book tells the story of this crucial campaign with first-person stories taken from the authors’ interviews of the American soldiers, both officers and enlisted personnel, who faced the massive German onslaught that threatened to turn the tide of battle in Western Europe and successfully repelled the attack with their courage and blood. Also included are stories from German veterans of the battles, including SS soldiers, who were interviewed by the authors.

Available from:
Zenith Press