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Mussolini and his Generals

Mussolini and his Generals
The Armed Forces and Fascist Foreign Policy, 1922–1940


Part of Cambridge Military Histories

  • Date Published: January 2008
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521856027

£ 44.99

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About the Authors
  • This is the first authoritative study of the Italian armed forces and the relationship between the military and foreign policies of Fascist Italy from Mussolini's rise to power in 1922 to the catastrophic defeat of 1940. Using extensive new research, John Gooch explores the nature and development of the three armed forces, their relationships with Mussolini and the impact of his policies and command, the development of operational and strategic thought, and the deployment and use of force in Libya, Abyssinia and Spain. He emphasizes Mussolini's long-term expansionist goals and explains how he responded to the structural pressures of the international system and the contingent pressures of events. This compelling account shows that while Mussolini bore ultimate responsibility for Italy's fateful entry into the Second World War, his generals and admirals bore a share of the blame for defeat through policies that all too often rested on irrationality and incompetence.

    • The first study in any language of the role of the military in the formation of Fascist foreign policy and the relationship between the armed forces and Mussolini's regime
    • Revises existing interpretations of Mussolini's strategy by emphasising his long-term expansionist goals
    • Essential reading for anyone interested in military history, Fascism, interwar Europe and the course of the Second World War
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'John Gooch has once again proven himself to be one of the major military historians of twentieth century Europe. This study represents a significant contribution to our understanding of the interwar history of the Italian military and its relationship to Fascist foreign policy before the smashup of 1940. It is particularly good at laying out the dysfunctional nature of Italian foreign and military policies. What is of great use to our historical understanding of the period is that Professor Gooch has provided both context and understanding to the military side of the equation, which has all too often been lacking in the study of Mussolini's Italy.' Williamson Murray, Institute for Defense Analyses

    'Scholars have attempted to explain Fascist Italy's foreign and military policies in isolation from one another. But Benito Mussolini dominated both, and the Duce of Fascism was no split personality. John Gooch's pioneering study covers both key aspects of Fascist policy on the basis of extensive research in the difficult-of-access archives of the armed forces and foreign ministry. The result is an unprecedented achievement: a meticulous account that ties together diplomacy, deployment planning, the organizational agendas and force structures of the three services, and the dictator's often bizarre policy inspirations.' MacGregor Knox, The London School of Economics and Political Science

    'John Gooch has written a thorough and fully documented study of Italian military policy during Mussolini's Fascist rule. Gooch's work makes untenable the common, if condescending or escapist, view that this regime's warring was no more than a joke. Yet his rich detail does make manifest the innumerable and unresolved contradictions, both structural and personal, that dogged the ideologically driven efforts to raise Italy above its habitual role as the least of the Great Powers. Here, Gooch comprehensively shows us, was a war-mongering dictatorship destined to lose its serious wars' Professor R. J. B. Bosworth, School of Humanities, The University of Western Australia

    '…immensely thorough, an unprecedented analysis of the underlying causes of Italian military failure' The Times Literary Supplement

    'John Gooch's mammoth study of military developments under Mussolini during the interwar years shows how the Italian record in adopting operational concepts to new technology was almost uniformly disastrous. The book is immensely thorough, an unprecedented analysis of the underlying causes of Italian military failure.' The Times Literary Supplement

    '…immensely thorough, an unprecedented analysis of the underlying causes of Italian military failure.' The Times Literary Supplement

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    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2008
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521856027
    • length: 666 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 160 x 45 mm
    • weight: 1.18kg
    • contains: 9 b/w illus. 3 maps
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. The beginning of the Fascist era, 1922–1925
    2. Domestic checks and international balances,1925–1929
    3. Military constraints and diplomatic restraint, 1929-1932
    4. Moving towards aggression, 1932–1934
    5. The trial of force: Abyssinian 1935
    6. War, arms and the Axis, 1936–1937
    7. The year of true 'realism', 1938
    8. 'Speak of peace and prepare for war', 1939–1940

  • Author

    John Gooch, University of Leeds
    John Gooch is Professor of International History at the University of Leeds. His previous publications include Army, State and Society in Italy, 1870-1915 (1989) and, with Eliot A. Cohen, Military Misfortunes: The Anatomy of Failure in War (1990, 2006).

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