Book Review: Italy Before Italy: Institutions, Conflicts and Political Hopes in the Italian States, 1815-1860


by Marco Soresina

New York: Routledge, 2018. Pp. x, 220. Map, notes, biblio., index. $155.00. ISBN: 1138565237

Italy, From Napoleon to Victor Emmanuel

Prof. Soresina (Milan) has produced a concise overview of the history of Italy from the end of the Napoleonic Wars through unification under the House of Savoy.

Soresina uses a chronological treatment, with chapters covering the reorganization of Italy after the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the period from 1815 to the Revolutions of 1848, Italy within revolutionary Europe in 1848-1849, the period from 1849 through 1859, and then two chapters on the final acts that led to unification.

In each chapter Soresina deals with all the states in Italy, albeit with more attention to the larger entities – Lombardy-Venetia, the Two Sicilies, the Papal States, and Sardinia/Piedmont. He weaves together political, military, constitutional, and even social developments across the peninsula rather well. His chapter on the Revolutions of 1848-1849 offers an excellent summary of a series of very complex events, as revolutionary movements rose and fell in the various Italian states.

Soresina’s treatment of nationalist underground movements and leaders arguably could have been better. He says little about conflicts among the various visions of the future, and there is not even a mention of Carlo Bianco’s “less gentle” vision for unification.

Despite this, overall Italy Before Italy, a volume in the Routledge series “Studies in Modern European History”, offers us a good summary look at Italy in the making.


Note: Italy Before Italy is also available in several e-editions.

StrategyPage reviews are published in cooperation with The New York Military Affairs Symposium


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