Just finished this mammoth book on the WWII Italian campaign by the author of "An Army at Dawn". It's a good read, covering the ins and outs of a costly campaign of 65 years ago. It's not as much fun as his first book because it describes a very costly operation that took many lives for questionable gain. We never tied down as many German soldiers in Italy as we employed our own troops in fighting them. We did knock Italy out of the war, but that isn't saying much, the Italians never contributed all that much to the Axis war effort. Churchill's "soft underbelly" was mountainous, cut be deep and fast flowing rivers and the sort of country where a few riflemen could stand off an entire army.
According to Atkinson, the real reason we fought in Italy is it was the only place we could fight the Germans until we built up the strength for Overlord. When WWII is raging, you have to keep fighting the enemy, and Italy was the only place we could do so.
Atkinson covers all the fighting, the wheeling and dealing, the personalities of the generals, the scandals and the rest of it. Enjoy.