literary reviews on the back cover.
"How have you said so much and involved me so deeply with so few words?" Gunnar Myrdahl, Nobel laureate.
"One of the most sensitive and moving books of the war, both authentic and poetic" A.L. Rowse, Elizabethan historian and Shakespearean scholar.
This is a fictional account of the protracted and bloody Allied invasion of Anzio in 1944. The story is told through shifting points of view - an Italian child, a British general, a camp commandant, and Allied and German soldiers. This mosaic is slow to unfold, but a tragic, unrelenting story emerges. Overall the book is subdued and somewhat detached. But its impact is staggering.
This book is quite remarkable. It has a haunting aspect to it, but it is not a blatant antiwar account. As others have noted, possibly the best comparisons are with The Red Badge of Courage and All Quiet on the Western Front. In a poetic style William Woodruff conveys a frightening sense of realism. High level strategic decisions move down through the chain of command and are translated into battle. Confusion, fear, and pain are pervasive. The focus is on survival.
The author participated in the initial invasion landing at Anzio on January 23, 1944 with the First British Infantry and fought for the next four months on the beachhead, trapped by German forces on the high ground. Woodruff tells the story of war with an emotional impact that ensures that this literary work will become a classic. I highly recommend Vessel of Sadness.