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I am a history buff & know a great deal about WWII. The story of the betrayal of the Italian Alpine troops by the Germans is an old story in my Italian family. I have no doubt that Ms. Hamilton's research & scholarship have replaced the largely apocryphal stories I've always heard.
Having said that, I feel very skeptical about the information presented here. Hamilton is talking about elite Italian mountain infantry - I'd love to believe that my countrymen were plaster saints who always loathed the Germans, but it doesn't ring true. These men were sad to leave home, but going-ho about going to Russia with their allies. They admired the German soldiers of the Wehrmacht. Hamilton notes chastely that when Italian troops "misbehaved" they were disciplined severely. Again, it doesn't ring true. I simply don't believe that the Italians didn't "misbehave" right alongside their German allies in the Wehrmacht & Einsatzgruppen.
Finally, I just couldn't finish it. I got about 3/4 through with it, but the continuing portrayal of Italian troops as saintly helpers of suffering people finally saccharined me right out of the book. I'd like to think well of my ancestors. But none of them were this saintly
3 of 4 people found this review helpful
This is an interesting topic and promised to fill an important gap around Italy's involvement on the Eastern Front. Sadly this promise is not delivered. From early on, the narrative becomes pretty tedious. To save you the bother, essentially the Italians are jolly nice country boys with poor equipment who get on well with the homely Russians, are desperate to make pasta for everyone and shocked by the behaviour of those nasty Germans. They are noble and brave, but wholly unprepared, fight a desperate and unrecognised war and are not appreciated by the Germans.
It is Captain Corelli with snow.
There is little analysis, but lots of reminiscences from moist-eyed old veterans. Quite often it is obvious that they were incompetent and exacerbated the disaster, but that is explained by the fact that they were just jolly nice country boys.....
4 of 5 people found this review helpful
Would you listen to Sacrifice on the Steppe again? Why?
Hope Hamilton brings to these pages the sad and very harrowing story of the Italian Alpine Corps foolishness in allowing themselves to join with Mussolini in following Hitler in his foolhardy invasion of Russia. Catastrophe on the Steppe is truly what it was and most of them never saw Italy again as they still lie out there in unknown graves in the vastness of Eastern Russia. It all makes for a horrifying but moving and fascinating story.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful