Book Review: Hitler's Italian Allies: Royal Armed Forces, Fascist Regime, and the War of 1940-1943


by MacGregor Knox

New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009. Pp. xiv, 207. Illus., maps, chron., notes, biblio., index. $24.99. ISBN:0521747139

In Hitler's Italian Allies, originally published in 2000, Prof. Knox (London School of Economics), takes a hard look at the problems of the Italian Armed Forces during the Second World War, which experienced a seemingly endless series of failures, decidedly in contrast to their apparent efficiency and modernity during the much of the 1930s and the militaristic bent of the Fascist regime.  

Knox, the principal non-Italian expert on the subject, sees these failures as resulting from a combination of tensions between the largely Royalist military establishment and the Fascist elite, as well as fears among many senior Italian leaders for the fate of Italy in a Nazi-dominated Europe . In the process, Knox also examines the lack of a strong economic and industrial base, deep-seated inter-service rivalry, poor coordination and cooperation with their principal ally, Nazi Germany, and the personal failures of the two Axis leaders, Mussolini and Hitler. Knox does not echo Allied -- principally British -- propaganda that deliberately denigrated the Italian Armed Force in order to inflate their own tarnish military reputation, giving a more balanced and nuanced treatment than most works that touch upon Italian military operations.

An important book for anyone interested in World War II in the Mediterranean theatre, or in Italian history.

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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