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  • Ortona

  • Canada's Epic World War II Battle
  • Written by: Mark Zuehlke
  • Narrated by: William Dufris
  • Length: 14 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Military
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (94 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In one furious week of fighting in December 1943, the First Canadian Infantry Division took Ortona, Italy, from elite German paratroopers ordered to hold the medieval port at all costs. When the battle was over, the Canadians emerged victorious despite heavy losses. Over 2,500 Canadians died or were wounded there. Military historian Mark Zuehlke blends reminiscences of the Canadians, Germans, and Italians who were there together with a blow-by-blow account of the fighting to create a harrowing, ultimately hopeful rendering of one of World War II's defining moments.

©2004 Mark Zuehlke (P)2011 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about Ortona

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  • Overall
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    5 out of 5 stars

I had no idea...

The author and narrator do a tremendous job of bringing us to the Italian campaign and Ortona. It is beyond incredible what these soliders had to do. The sacafice, courage and determination of the Canadian army is on full display. Author does a superb job of capturing the grit of the frontlines and the detached nature of the generals pulling the strings, sometimes very poorly. WW II was truly a different era. Well done, highly recommended.

4 people found this helpful

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A much needed Canadian account

Mark Zuehlke’s series on Canadians during WWII fills many gaps in our knowledge base, I knew and am related to some Veterans of the Italian campaign, but never knew just how intense their war was, before this series.

1 person found this helpful

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Little-known piece of Canadian history...

This was a great book. As with any military oriented book, the names, titles, acronyms, weapon references, etc., can all get a little tiresome. But the story, and details, of what both the soldiers and civilians went through is more than interesting enough to carry the listener though the muck. The narrator repeatedly mispronounces many things (Canadian towns, and a famous Canadian writer) Canadians won't be able to ignore but at least he's consistent and I was able to get over it. I'd recommend it to anyone interested in military or Canadian history.

1 person found this helpful

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May we NEVER forget the sacrifice of our Canadian war veterans.

Unbelievably poignant recounting of human tragedy / senseless loss - suffering and death. Well written and narrated ... focus is on the role Canadians had in fighting this terrible - but almost forgotten - battle in Italy. Lest we ever forget their sacrifice for our freedom.

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  • Sam
  • 2022-05-14

Great Story of an Important Episode of the War

Great book with good detail, recommend having Google maps and an old campaign map to follow along with. Finally a detailed account of that terrible December when the Canadians of 1st Inf Div and 1st Arm Bde helped smash German resistance and move toward victory. 1st big fight in an Urban area in the mainland European campaign and what a fight it was.

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Lousy narration and so so story

The only good thing about this book is that there aren’t many books written about Canadians at war. The narrator is so old school and boring. It’s almost as if it’s a high quality automated narration as opposed to a real narrator. He has about 5 or so ways to express a sentence and he reads the entire book with these voices. So painful.

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A really solid book that bogs down in occassion

Well narrated, however sometimes it bogs down in its own details. if you're a casual military history fan like myself you may find yourself sometimes struggling to keep track of all of the different units and commanders in play as well as the topography of the battle and the different objectives. I found the latter third of the book to be its strongest. this was where the fighting took place inside the city itself, and featured some of the best stories from the entire book.

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I am proud to be a Canadian

I have heard of Dieppe, Omaha Beach battle of the Bulge, but not Ortona.. I I'm proud of our soldier's thank you for making me appreciate them even more...

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great canadian war book

narrator did a excellent job of making you feel like you were part of the battle

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Informative, Interesting and Impeccably Canadian

This is a look at a hard fought battle through the use of regimental sources, field reports, and first hand accounts. The story is filled with the stories of individuals, platoons, companies and regiments presented in a format that is easily understood and absorbed.

*Warning: some comments are quite graphic but so to was the conflict.*

I recommend every Canadian read this book. As the author points out, far too many Canadians don't know of our own military history except for the blunders and those highlighted by the inclusion of other prominent nations.

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  • Charles
  • 2013-05-11

Ortona

I enjoyed this book very much. We usually don't hear about what other countries did in WWII.I would recommend this book to others.

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  • Ryan
  • 2017-10-08

A must read

Another great read. Mark sets a high bar for everyone of his books and meets it every time. I really enjoyed this one and is a must read for all Canadians.

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  • Ratfox
  • 2020-07-28

Very somber story

Thank you for writing and narrating this piece of history in such a professional manner.

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  • Allen Dillon
  • 2018-12-07

Great Canadian History.

This book is a great history on the events at Ortona. I heard the names of many find Canadians known to my forefathers that fought in Italy. Thankful that the author and a fellow regimental officer, Mike Boire took the time to capture this costly battle in Canadian. history. Bravo Zulu.

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  • Craig
  • 2017-07-18

My Grandfather's Battle

I enjoyed this audio book very much. The story of what the Canadians went through to break through the German lines was one I only heard of from my mother as my grandfather passed away when I was five.
While the performer did mispronounce some Canadian terms and institutions, his tempo and pace kept you on the edge of the story as it progressed.
I would recommend this book to all people who want to understand what it was truly like in the Second World War. It was not the glamor that we see in the old movies.
Thank you for producing this.

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  • Colinchat99
  • 2016-06-13

Ortona the Story I didn't know

I was amazed that I hadn't heard about the epic battle in Italy and the heroic efforts by Canadian troops including the Loyal Edmonton's...fantastic and fantastically narrated!

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  • William Assis
  • 2016-05-03

Amazing story, poor choice in narrator

This book is a well put together and written account of the Canadian battle for Ortona.

What is notable is that a non-Canadian narrator was selected. names of institutions and places are badly mispronounced, and he continuously pronounces 'lieutenant' in the American way, rather than that of the Commonwealth (pronounced: Lef-tenant)". As other comments mentioned, he also struggles at times with common English words.
These mistakes take away from the story, and make it feel less of a Canadian Epic, and more of an American teacher trying to give you a history lesson.
Great piece of literature, but maybe next time have a Canadian read a Canadian book by a Canadian author about a Canadian battle.

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  • Charlotte Ward
  • 2013-10-05

Exciting story of WWII but terrible reader

What was one of the most memorable moments of Ortona?

Christmas Dinner with the Seaforth Highlanders, the Fallschirmjager defense of the city, "mouseholing" technique developed by Canadians in order to advance through the city.

What didn’t you like about William Dufris’s performance?

He is very distracting, almost as if his voice were constrained and reading were difficult to do. He seems unable to speak many common words, such as "the." He sounds clipped and awkward, and some sentences are almost unintelligible. I will never listen to a story narrated by this man again.

Did Ortona inspire you to do anything?

I am a WWII reenactor, and am now more enthusiastic in efforts to portray at a reenactment the Canadian infantryman.