Author: Mark Bowlin
Publisher: The P3 Press (2010)
Binding: Paperback, 270 pages
Victory Road is the second book in the award-winning Texas Gun Club series. It's the fall of 1943: The Allied Advance up the Italian Peninsula has ground to a halt, and the prospect of taking Rome before Christmas seems more distant than ever. In their first action since Salerno, First Lieutenant Sam Taft and the soldiers of Able Company are sent to wrest a lonely stretch of road from the German defenders--the Italians call it Highway 6, but the boys of the Texas Gun Club know it as Victory Road. As Sam slugs it out in the valley, somewhere beyond the highway high up in the mountains, his cousin, Captain Perkin Berger struggles against harsh elements and murderous German intelligence agents in his quest to be the first American into San Pietro.
MWSA 2011 Gold Medal for Fiction, Historical Event
The Texas Gun Club series is about the invasion and conquest of Italy in WWII, and the first novel of the series is titled The Texas Gun Club. When the 36th Infantry Division of the Texas National Guard (know as "The Texas Army," and sometimes as "The Texas Gun Club") was federalized, it became part of the 5th Army commanded by LG Mark Clark.
The 36th was the first American unit to hit the beach at Salerno, Italy on 9 September 1943, and The Texas Gun Club is the story of the division's landing and the battle for Salerno as seen through the eyes two cousins, 1LT Sam Taft and Capt Perkins Berger.
Victory Road picks up the story, and is built around the battle for San Pietro. A brutal battle fought against battle hardened German troop dung in on a series of defensive lines south of Rome. The descriptions of battle will make you think you are there. Attacks and counter attacks in freezing rain and sleet as the unit fights its way through a narrow gap and attempts to advance north on Route 6, named Victory Road by the troops.
Intrigue, spies, tragedy, brotherhood, bravery, love, treachery, comradery, leadership and stupidity are characteristics displayed by various characters. Some of the unfinished story lines from the first book are completed, and at least one spills over into the next book.
A realistic look at the Italian campaign and the face of war. A great read and highly recommended.
Reviewed by: Lee Boyland (2011)