The Savage Storm

The Savage Storm by James Holland

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline for The Savage Storm:

Everyone was mad at the Italians, even the Italians.

Quick synopsis:

The story of the Allied invasion of Italy in 1943.

Fact for Non-History People:

By 1943, the Luftwaffe had already lost almost 6,000 aircraft in the Mediterranean alone.

Fact for History Nerds:

The German 10th Army lost 13,362 soldiers in December 1943 alone in Italy.

My Take on The Savage Storm:

If there is one thing everyone can agree on in 1943 is that everyone was mad at the Italians, even the Italians.

James Holland’s The Savage Storm looks at the invasion of Italy in 1943 from various different perspectives. This part of the war does not get nearly as much ink spilled as the invasion of Normandy and Holland drives home a main reason why this is true. The invasion of Italy was an under-supported bit of chaos. The Italians were getting out of the war but lying to everyone about it including themselves. The Allies expected to do a lot with a little and the Germans were just responding to Hitler’s changing whims. Holland tells this story from a high level but also leans heavily into smaller stories of soldiers and civilians just trying to survive. There are literally dozens of characters we are introduced to, and these are often the best parts of the book.

However, the sheer number of characters can also be frustrating. There are so many people to keep track of that the reader is often pulled out of the narrative to jump to another character. Multiple times, I wanted to stay with an Italian resistance fighter or a soldier trying to hold a bridge. Instead, the reader is torn out of that thread and dropped back into a different story. It’s a testament to Holland that this doesn’t ruin the book. It can be irksome but not fatal. Also, this is mainly a problem in the early portions. By the end when the reader has been introduced to nearly everyone, it’s less noticeable. In the end, the good far outweighs any of the bad.

(This book was provided as an advance copy by Netgalley and Grove Atlantic.)


A really good World War II read. Buy it here!

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