Book Review: Mussolini’s Nation-Empire: Sovereignty and Settlement in Italy’s Borderlands, 1922-1943


by Roberta Pergher

Cambridge & New York: Cambridge University Press, 2018. Pp. x, 288. Maps, notes, biblio., index. $29.99 paper. ISBN: 1108414788

Italianizing Italy’s Empire

Prof. Pegher (Indiana) breaks ground in the study of Italian Fascism, by looking at Italy’s efforts both at home, in the recently annexed partially German-speaking Trentino and partially Slavic-speaking Istria, and abroad in the Dodecanese Islands, Libya, and, to a lesser extent, East Africa, to “Italianize” the regions through settlement of ethnic Italians, as a way of cementing their integration into the nation, through resettlement of Italy’s “excess population”.

Pegher looks not only at the broader policies and actions, but also at the experiences of some of the people resettled. They were far fewer in practice than planned -some tens of thousands rather than the million or more - in part due to a shortage of volunteers and of resources.

Pegher oddly does not mention the domestic aspects of “Italianization”, in the efforts following the unification of Italy in 1861 to suppress regional dialects in favor of Tuscan, and Mussolini’s own resettlement of northern Italians on the lands reclaimed from the Pontine Marshes, on the northern fringe of the South, which were also seen as a way to build national unity. As with many other parts of the Fascist agenda, these efforts reflected long-established Italian nationalist policy, a subject usually ignored in treatments of Fascism.

This small reservation aside, Mussolini’s Nation-Empire is a valuable addition to the study of Italian Fascism.


Note: Mussolini’s Nation-Empire is also available in hard cover and several e-editions.

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


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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