THE WINTER ARMY: The World War II Odyssey of the 10th Mountain Division, America's Elite Alpine Warriors

Maurice Isserman

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019

Agent: Sandra Dijkstra

The epic story of the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division, whose elite soldiers broke the last line of German defenses in Italy’s mountains in 1945, spearheading the Allied advance to the Alps and final victory.

At the start of World War II, the US Army had two cavalry divisions—and no mountain troops. The German Wehrmacht, in contrast, had many well-trained and battle-hardened mountain divisions, some of whom by 1943 blocked the Allied advance in the Italian campaign. Starting from scratch, the US Army developed a unique military fighting force, the 10th Mountain Division, drawn from the ranks of civilian skiers, mountaineers, and others with outdoor experience. The resulting mix of Ivy League students, park rangers, Olympic skiers, and European refugees formed the first specialized alpine fighting force in US history. By the time it deployed to Italy at the beginning of 1945, this ragtag group had coalesced into a tight-knit unit. In the months that followed, at a terrible cost, they spearheaded the Allied drive in Italy to final victory.

Ranging from the ski slopes of Colorado to the towering cliffs of the Italian Alps, The Winter Army is a saga of an unlikely band of soldiers forged in the heat of combat into a brotherhood whose legacy lives on in US mountain fighters to this day.


• Nominated for the Reading the West book award in the adult narrative nonfiction category

• Featured in the New York Post as one of the "Best Books of the Week" for the week of November 2nd, 2109

"The Winter Army is just as interested in the “who” and “why” of these historical events as it is facts and figures."
—The Mercury, Kansas review

"[Isserman's] well-researched reliance on firsthand accounts adds a much-needed new chapter to the rich history of the famed 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry]."
Lieutenant General Walter Piatt, director of the Army Staff, previous commander of the 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) and Fort Drum, New York

"Captivating … The gripping and unlikely story of the making of America’s elite Alpine fighting force."
—David M. Shribman, Wall Street Journal

"The Winter Army is a sober, clear-eyed view of what it takes to train, equip and mount a fighting force." 
Book Reporter

"The Winter Army is the work of a master craftsman."
Vail Daily

"Isserman has created a fascinating study of this branch of specialized American soldiers during WWII, a bit of military history that will be of interest to WII buffs and readers who have been on the slopes or gazed in wonder at mountains' majesty.”

"Exhilarating account... Isserman provides frontline views... The result is an entertaining, well-sourced blend of military and sports history."
—Publishers Weekly

"A solid military history focused on an elite division that made its mark in the final stages of World War II.”
Kirkus Reviews

"From the frozen spine of the Colorado Rockies to the icy steeps of Riva Ridge in Italy, Maurice Isserman skillfully tracks the birth of the 10th Mountain Division and its harrowing World War II battles. The Winter Army is a fitting tribute to the high-altitude soldiers who fought with more courage than oxygen."
Mark Obmascik, author of The Storm on Our Shores

"You won't find any U.S. Army division history better than this one. Maurice Isserman's superbly crafted account of this wild and completely unique military organization is gripping, masterful, and moving. A must-read for anyone with even the slightest interest in military history." 
—Flint Whitlock, co-author, Soldiers on Skis: A Pictorial Memoir of the 10th Mountain Division

"Compelling and readable, this is how a unit history should be written. Isserman has shed long overdue light on the remarkable 10th Mountain Division, an elite unit full of fascinating personalities, many of whom almost seem like characters from a fast-paced adventure novel. I had serious trouble putting this book down."
—John C. McManus, author of Fire and Fortitude and The Dead and Those About to Die

"As the son of a 10th Mountain trooper, I consider this a 'must read' for anyone interested in this fascinating history. With great attention to detail and depth of research, Maurice Isserman brings a new, more personal perspective to the story of the division during World War II, allowing me to get to know, as young men, the veterans I've known for many years."
—Stephen Coffey, Immediate Past President, 10th Mountain Division Descendants, Inc.