Mussolini's War: Fascist Italy’s Military Struggles from Africa and Western Europe to the Mediterranean and Soviet Union 1935-45

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Helion and Company, May 6, 2010 - History - 224 pages
3 Reviews
Among the great misconceptions of modern times is the assumption that Benito Mussolini was Hitler's junior partner, who made no significant contributions to the Second World War. That conclusion originated with Allied propagandists determined to boost Anglo-American morale, while undermining Axis cooperation. The Duce's failings, real or imagined, were inflated and ridiculed; his successes, pointedly demeaned or ignored. Italy's bungling navy, ineffectual army - as cowardly as it was ill-equipped - and air force of antiquated biplanes were handily dealt with by the Western Allies. So effective was this disinformation campaign that it became post-war history, and is still generally taken for granted even by otherwise well-informed scholars and students of World War Two. But a closer examination of recently disclosed, and often neglected, original source materials presents an entirely different picture. They shine new light, for example, on Italy's submarine service, the world's greatest in terms of tonnage, its boats sinking nearly three-quarters of a million tons of Allied shipping in three years' time. During a single operation, Italian 'human torpedoes' sank the battleships HMS Valiant and Queen Elizabeth, plus an eight-thousand-ton tanker, at their home anchorage in Alexandria, Egypt. By mid-1942, Mussolini's navy had fought its way back from crushing defeats to become the dominant power in the Mediterranean Sea. Contrary to popular belief, his Fiat biplanes gave as good as they got in the Battle of Britain, and their monoplane replacements, such as the Macchi Greyhound, were state-of-the-art interceptors superior to the American Mustang. Savoia-Marchetti Sparrowhawk bombers accounted for seventy-two Allied warships and one hundred-ninety-six freighters before the Bagdolio armistice in 1943. On 7 June 1942, infantry of the Italian X Corps saved Rommel's XV Brigade near Gazala, in North Africa, from otherwise certain annihilation, while horse-soldiers of the Third Cavalry Division Amedeo Duca d'Aosta defeated Soviet forces on the Don River before Stalingrad the following August in history's last cavalry charge. As influential as these operations were on the course of World War Two, more potentially decisive was Mussolini's planned aggression against the United States' mainland. Postponed only at the last moment when its conventional explosives were slated for substitution by a nuclear device, New York City escaped an atomic attack by margins more narrow than previously understood. It is now known that Italian scientists led the world in nuclear research in 1939, and a four-engine Piaggio heavy bomber was modified to carry an atomic bomb five years later. These and numerous other disclosures combine to debunk lingering propaganda stereotypes of an inept, ineffectual Italian armed forces. That dated portrayal is rendered obsolete by a true-to-life account of the men and weapons of Mussolini's War.

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User Review - Flag as inappropriate

There are definitely some positive attributes about this book, especially in exploring Italy's actual wartime capacity. My contention, however, is with the multiple factual errors surrounding Ethiopia. Asides from fumbling dates and using incorrect terminology throughout, the author completely misrepresents the events at Welwel and the League of Nations' arbitration process.
The book also horrifically biases in favour of Mussolini, almost painting him as an irrefutably great leader. There is a difference between challenging caricatures of Mussolini's incompetence and praising him. It was very uncritical and not a book I particularly recommend.

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

Fantastic book! It really gives a true and accurate portrayal of the Italians and how well they fought and the successes they had over the Allies, especially the British. It destroys all the myths and stereotypes and for the first time, it shows the Italians in a positive light, which is much closer to reality. The Italians fought well and hard against the Allies and gave back as good as they got! Without the Italians,the Germans would have capitulated earlier. 


Foreword by Forrest P Patton Lieutenant Colonel United States Marine Corps Reserve Ret
The First Casualty of War
Crossing a 20th Century Rubicon
Flying Rats
A Modern Gallic War
King Of Beasts By The Tail
Snatching Defeat from the Jaws ofVictory
Desert Fox In A Henhouse
Sunshine from Italy
Middle Age Crisis
North African Finale
Mussolini Island
The Ordeal of Blood
Day of the Lion
An Unlikely PenPal
The Italian Atomic Bomb

Mare Nostro
The Duces Dolphins
Hercules Spurned
Unacknowledged Victory
Could Mussolini Have Won His War?
Selected Bibliography

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About the author (2010)

Frank Joeseph specializes in WWII history.

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