Hot off the shelf: Battles and Brides

The day of battle: The war in Sicily and Italy 1943 – 1944 is the second volume in Rick Atkinson’s trilogy about the liberation of Europe. The first, An army at dawn, won the Pulitzer Prize for its dramatic and authoritative account of the North African campaign.

In The day of the battle Atkinson follows the Allied armies as they invade Sicily in 1943 and fight their way north towards Rome.  The story of the Italian campaign is a compelling one; the invasion of the ‘soft underbelly’ of Europe was hotly debated by Roosevelt, Churchill and their military advisers and its outcome was never certain.

The great sacrifice and suffering of the campaign has particular resonance for New Zealanders, with the terrible casualties of battles like Monte Cassino etched on our national consciousness.  

Atkinson has combined impressive research, drawing on a wide range of primary sources, with a compelling and readable writing style to  create a first-rate narrative history.

It seems almost obscene to put a book about a subject as serious as the Second World War with one about a subject as frivolous as how to have a fabulous wedding, but that’s the way they arrive on the new books shelf, and there may be a military history buff out there who is planning a 2008 wedding. InStyle weddings is one of those big books that is slghtly terrifying in the level of detail it lavishes on something that should really be quite minor. After all, it’s only one day, and is it true that the more attention devoted to the wedding day the shorter the marriage?

Cynics and hairdressers who specialise in weddings might say yes, but the whole-hearted attempt to make one perfect day as outlined here is strangely seductive. The pictures are so beautiful (the dresses), the ideas so bizarre (the rows of green apples anchoring the escort cards – what is an escort card anyway?) and the budgets so astronomical it’s hard to look away.

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