Albert Kesselring, Pier Paolo Battistelli

Albert Kesselring, Pier Paolo Battistelli

Albert Kesselring had an unusually varied wartime career, starting as a senior Luftwaffe commander during the invasion of Poland, the battle of Britain and the early stages of the fighting in Russia, before moving to Italy, where he proved himself to be a skilled land commander during the long German defensive campaign on the Italian peninsula.

The big challenge in a biography of this length is avoiding the danger of just producing a brief history of the events in which the individual was involved rather than focusing on the subject's contribution to events. In this case the author has got the balance about right, providing enough background to make sense while also looking at Kesselring's own contribution to events - in particular during his time as commander in chief in Italy, the period when he had the most independence.

There is some duplication here - the short Military Life chapter gives a potted biography of Kesselring, with most of the main incidents expanded on in the Hour of Destiny section. I think I'd have shrunk the Military Life to a single page summary, freeing up more space that could have been used for a more in-depth examination of Kesselring's war crime trial. There is a brief factual account of the main war crime - the killing of 335 Italian hostages in Rome in March 1944 at a time when he was commander in chief in the area, the trial and the public support Kesselring received from highly placed Western leaders, but I'd have liked an opinion on his guilt or otherwise.

Other than that this is a competent biography of a key German commander who had an interestingly varied career.

Early Years
Military Life
Hour of Destiny
Opposing Commanders
Inside the Mind
When war is done
A life in words
Bibliography and further reading

Author: Pier Paolo Battistelli
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 64
Publisher: Osprey
Year: 2012

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