Book Review: Mussolini and Hitler: The Forging of the Fascist Alliance


by Christian Goeschel

New Haven: Yale University Press, 2018. Pp. x, 290+. Illus., notes, biblio., index. $30.00. ISBN: 0300178832

Parsing the “Brutal Friendship”

In this new look at the relationship between Mussolini and Hitler, Goeschel (University of Manchester) delves deeply into the ups and downs of the personal interaction between the two, in what F. W. Deakin called “The Brutal Friendship”.

Goeschel has four main themes. He considers the political fallout of the “emotive politics” of their relationship, the superficiality of their supposed common ideology, the “significance of personal factors” in making and sustaining “transnational associations”, and the propaganda efforts that went into creating the image of an unbreakable Hitler-Mussolini relationship.

Goeschel throws fresh light on the convoluted relationship of the two dictators, at times trying to outdo each other, at times seriously trying to work together, and at other times wary of each other. He also goes far in showing that Mussolini was often much more astute than is usually depicted, though he oddly misses Mussolini’s well-reasoned, and ultimately correct, caution about joining Hitler’s intervention in the Iraqi nationalist rising of 1941.

In the end, Goeschel, demonstrates that there was a real friendship between the two, albeit fraught with jealousy, misunderstanding, and personal ambitions, which helped shape the war. Mussolini and Hitler is a valuable read for anyone interested in the leadership of the Axis powers.


Note: Mussolini and Hitler is also available in several e-editions


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

Buy it at



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close