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The United States, Italy and the Origins of Cold War
Waging Political Warfare, 1945–1950

$33.99 (C)

  • Date Published: August 2016
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781316620335

$ 33.99 (C)

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About the Authors
  • This international history of the origins and nature of 'cold war' offers the first systematic examination of the complex relationship between the United States and Italy, and of American debates about warfare in the years between World War II and the Korean War. Kaeten Mistry reveals how the defeat of the Marxist left in the 1948 Italian election was perceived as a victory for the United States amidst a 'war short of war', as defined by influential planner George Kennan, becoming an allegory for cold war in American minds. The book analyses how political warfare sought to employ covert operations, overt tactics and propaganda in a co-ordinated offensive against international communism. Charting the critical contribution of a broad network of local, religious, civic, labour, and business groups, Mistry reveals how the notion of a specific American success paved the way for a problematic future for US-Italian relations and American political warfare.

    • An international history of the origins and making of the Cold War in postwar Europe
    • The first systematic examination of the multifaceted state and private relationships between the United States and Italy in this period
    • Sheds new light on the United States' first Cold War intervention including a major reinterpretation of the role of the CIA
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "A highly sophisticated analysis of American policies towards Italy at the start of the Cold War. By concentrating on US capabilities of political warfare, Mistry sets the stage for a half-century of American political interventions abroad."
    Arne Westad, Harvard University

    "An indispensable guide to the crucial Italian episode in early Cold War history and America's first experiment in peacetime political warfare."
    David Ellwood, Johns Hopkins University

    "Kaeten Mistry has managed two important feats in this book. He has carefully examined the bundle of diplomatic, economic, strategic, and political problems that beset Italian-US relations during the early Cold War and ably traced Washington's evolving European policy in the late 1940s centered on measures short of outright warfare. His thoughtful treatment of this vital subject will repay close attention by specialist scholars and general readers alike."
    David Mayers, Boston University

    "Kaeten Mistry offers a new and innovative interpretation of US intervention in early Cold War Italy. He highlights the ambitions, successes and contradictions of US policies in Italy and the lasting impact they had on Washington's Cold War strategy."
    Mario Del Pero, SciencesPo, Paris

    "A skilful investigation of the intricacies of political warfare at a crucial moment in the making of the early Cold War (and of trans-Atlantic relations), Mistry's book explores the composite set of actors and interactions that made the 'West', and unveils the intellectual fallacies and self-serving myths that would later sustain US interventions abroad."
    Federico Romero, European University Institute, Florence

    "Mistry has incorporated an impressive number of archival documents from both Italian and American sources … His bibliography is rich and of tremendous use to anyone researching the Cold War or the immediate postwar period in Italy … a solid and very detailed study of US political warfare in the early Cold War that also offers a clear and effective account of the reaction of a small, yet critical, country and its related non-state actors."
    Wendy Pojmann, H-Diplo

    "In The United States, Italy and the Origins of Cold War, Kaeten Mistry sets out to complicate the writing of American diplomatic history, challenging the simplistic notion that foreign policy emanates entirely from the upper echelons of the government … this is a fine book both in its detailed explication of the conduct of America's political warfare in postwar Italy and, perhaps more importantly, in its entirely convincing challenge to traditional assumptions of top-down policymaking."
    Andy Buchanan, H-Socialisms

    "… [a] thoughtful and tightly argued book … Impressively researched and informed by a deep understanding of Italian, United States, and intelligence history."
    Richard Immerman, H-Diplo Roundtable Review

    "Kaeten Mistry knows how to see the big picture … [The] interdisciplinary approach complements the author's remarkable mastery of the historiography on US-Italian relations … offer[s] a conclusion about US politics of stabilization in Italy that stands out for its nuance … I find Mistry's rendition of Kennan's role (and subsequent disappointments) in defining political warfare masterful."
    Alessandro Brogi, H-Diplo Roundtable Review

    "Kaeten Mistry offers a sophisticated and informative telling of the 1948 election saga and the US role based on an impressive command of archival resources and secondary literature … Mistry's telling American involvement in Italy's 1948 vote should be the standard work of scholarly reference. He deserves a lot of credit for his research, his careful reconstruction, and his sophisticated judgements … The United States, Italy and the Origins of Cold War is a welcome addition to the literature."
    James Edward Miller, H-Diplo Roundtable Review

    "… stimulating and valuable …"
    John L. Harper, H-Diplo Roundtable Review

    "… for understanding the rapidly evolving strategic vision of postwar American planners, including the revolutionary commitment of policymakers to a new global US posture, and for deep understanding of one part of the American imperial repertoire, Mistry has produced a very fine book."
    Journal of American Studies

    "… the book is impressive, engaging with wider historiographical debates and keeping an eye on the bigger picture. Extensively researched, it points to the origins of political warfare and in so doing draws out the wider significance of Italy in the early Cold War. Indeed, the subtitle is crucial here - the book deserves an audience far beyond specialists in US-Italian relations."
    Diplomacy and Statecraft

    "Mistry's fine book is thought-provoking … ably researched and argued."
    Roy Domenico, Journal of Cold War Studies

    "… an in-depth, comprehensive, and sophisticated look at one of the crucial chapters of the early Cold War as well as of the history of post-World War II Italy … Mistry's work is based on an impressive command of the classic interpretations and new directions in the study of US foreign relations, as well as on a remarkable amount of archival work in US and Italian archives. It also benefits from the author's familiarity with Italian history, politics, and public life … its most significant and original contribution transcends the Italian case and sheds light on how the victory of De Gasperi in the Italian elections of April 1948 led to a widespread, delusional 'perception of success' … Mistry convincingly shows how Italian events generated 'illusions of coherence' and a mystique of political warfare whose implications were felt in larger, more important contexts."
    Marco Mariano, H-Italy

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2016
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781316620335
    • length: 312 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 153 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.45kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Uncertain bonds (1945–6)
    2. Catalysts of convergence (1946–7)
    3. Italy in American visions (1947)
    4. The consolidation of DC-centrists (1947)
    5. Means short of war (1946–8)
    6. The 1948 election campaign
    7. Rocky relationships (1948–50)
    8. Organising political warfare (1948–50)

  • Author

    Kaeten Mistry, University of East Anglia
    Kaeten Mistry is Lecturer in American History at the University of East Anglia. He specialises in the history of American foreign relations, US-Italian relations, and intelligence.

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