A remarkable new history evoking the centrality of Italy to World War II, outlining the brief rise and triumph of the Fascists, followed by the disastrous fall of the Italian military campaign.
While staying closely aligned with Hitler, Mussolini remained carefully neutral until the summer of 1940. At that moment, with the wholly unexpected and sudden collapse of the French and British armies, Mussolini declared war on the Allies in the hope of making territorial gains in southern France and Africa. This decision proved a horrifying miscalculation, dooming Italy to its own prolonged and unwinnable war, immense casualties, and an Allied invasion in 1943 that ushered in a terrible new era for the country.
John Gooch’s new history is the definitive account of Italy’s war experience. Beginning with the invasion of Abyssinia and ending with Mussolini’s arrest, Gooch brilliantly portrays the nightmare of a country with too small an industrial sector, too incompetent a leadership and too many fronts on which to fight.
Everywhere–whether in the USSR, the Western Desert, or the Balkans–Italian troops found themselves against either better-equipped or more motivated enemies. The result was a war entirely at odds with the dreams of pre-war Italian planners–a series of desperate improvisations against an allied force who could draw on global resources, and against whom Italy proved helpless.