THE SOFT UNDERBELLY: The Anglo-American Controversies Over the Italian Campaign, 1939-1945 by Trumbull Higgins

THE SOFT UNDERBELLY: The Anglo-American Controversies Over the Italian Campaign, 1939-1945

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Another airing of the scrapping by Allied strategists during World War II. Churchill is the star here, and his machinations to make Italy the primary theatre of the war are thoroughly probed. The Americans, it seems, felt that after the initial occupation of Sicily and Sardinia (""the sardines"") in 1943, subsequent fighting in Italy was, to quote Eisenhower, ""a distinctly subsidiary operation."" But Churchill refused to be ""fobbed off with a sardine,"" and urged penetration of the soft underbelly of the Axis and the capture of Rome. Historian Higgins, long an admirer of Churchill (Winston Churchill and the Second Front, 1957), here recants somewhat, reluctantly agreeing that Churchill sacrificed ""the urgent needs of coalition strategy"" to those of ""national prestige."" For, while the Allied cause required the defeat of Italy which was accomplished by September, 1943, the further penetration of the peninsula until the capture of Rome in the summer of 1944 served ""Britain's exclusive self-interest."" But Higgins would largely agree with Churchill's own assessment: ""It is true. I suppose, that the Americans consider we have led them up the garden path in the Mediterranean--but what a beautiful path. . . . How grateful they should be."" Higgins, who supplies few interim conclusions, fewer insights, and rather turgid prose, also leads the reader on and on.

Pub Date: Oct. 14th, 1968
Publisher: Macmillan