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The Italian Army and the First World War Paperback – Oct 30 2015

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 402 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (July 31 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521149371
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521149372
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.1 x 22.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 581 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #315,381 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"This is the book which we have been waiting for ... a proper history of the Italian army in the First World War. Written by a scholar who knows the archives, but in English for those who don't, it will be the standard work for the foreseeable future."
Hew Strachan, University of Oxford

"An outstanding work of military history: highly impressive in the range of the sources that it uses, and exemplary in its judicious approach to the strengths and weakness of the army's performance in the First World War and to the merits and demerits of country's political and military leaders."
Christopher Duggan, University of Reading

"How Italy fought the First World War is a little-known but deeply tragic tale of political mismanagement, military malpractice and doomed valour, told by John Gooch with characteristic skill and erudition."
Macgregor Knox, London School of Economics and Political Science

"[This volume], in the outstanding new Cambridge series Armies of the Great War, is a good read for anyone interested in the Great War, and particularly the 'forgotten' theatres, as well as ... students of the Italian army."
A. A. Nofi, The NYMAS Review

Book Description

A major new account of the role and performance of the Italian army in the First World War. Setting military events in a broad context, Gooch explores pre-war Italian military culture, and reveals how an army with a reputation for failure fought a challenging war in appalling conditions - and won.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa12142c4) out of 5 stars 15 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa145ce7c) out of 5 stars Well Done Research and Superb Insights Aug. 2 2014
By OceansideJT - Published on
Format: Paperback
Excellent study of the Italian Army in WWI and perhaps an enlightening one for those little familiar with Italy's combat performance. Fighting in some of the most rugged conditions imaginable in the north, facing the towering, snow covered landscape of the Dolomites, these soldiers fought the enemy with courage and determination. Reinforced by German troops and with superior commanders such as a young Erwin Rommel leading them, the Austrians advanced with major breakthroughs that almost reached Venice. However, those successes and Italian retreats do not justify the unfair reputation for failure these brave men supposedly earned during the Great War. In this well written book, based on fresh archival research, offers new insights into the Italian Army, the ordinary soldier, the elite Alpine troops, and the poor leadership that caused their near defeat. A fascinating and satisfying volume that is essential reading for anyone wishing to broaden their understanding of the Great War, the Allies, and this unique theater of war.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa145ced0) out of 5 stars ITALY'S BLOODY WW I EXPERIENCE Oct. 21 2014
By Taurus - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Italy-WW I, 1915-1918, talk about a country and a people totally ill prepared for the worst confrontation in history up to that time.
The first problem was culture, the next were basically an inept high command, outdated strategy, wasteful meaningless attacks in one of the most inhospitable places in the world, the Alps located between Italy and it's arch enemy, Austria. This author points out the Italian infantry as brave as any of the combatants, who's worst enemy was his own command structure. Executions of those deemed cowardly or just set up as an example, were higher than any other army. The author does a wonderful job in bringing forward the Italian experience during WW I, something that has been relegated by history to the back pages. The slaughter in this formidable, unforgiving mountain terrain was one of the bloodiest campaigns of WW I. Casualties exceeded the Western Front caused by frostbite, falls from heights, shrapnel caused not only by shell fire but rock splinters. For those of who are unfamiliar with the history of Italy during WW I, I highly recommend this book, well written and very informative.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa12c61c8) out of 5 stars Gooch has written an excellent book. He covers all the important aspects of ... Nov. 14 2014
By W.J. O'Malley - Published on
Format: Paperback
Gooch has written an excellent book. He covers all the important aspects of the Italian army's effort in the First World War -- the experience and lessons gained (and ignored) beforehand; the relevant social and political elements; the structural and technological problems; the leadership issues; intelligence capability; and, of course, the major events the army went through. And much of this is done with real flair. If the rest of this series lives up to Gooch's standards, we readers will be in for a treat, and for some eye-opening insights as well.

So I give Gooch the author full credit, and the book deserves every one of the five stars. But the editors have let him down unbelievably, for the maps are simply terrible -- too few, poorly placed, insufficiently detailed, bordering on the useless. If the editors had been in the army Gooch is treating, with its harsh disciplinary regime, they'd have been shot. And deservedly so.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa12c66e4) out of 5 stars The Trials, Tribulations, and Triumphs of the Italian Army in the Great War Feb. 9 2015
By A. A. Nofi - Published on
Format: Paperback
A summary of the review on StrategyPage.Com:

'Prof. Gooch opens his contribution to the new Cambridge series “Armies of the Great War” with a short, concise review of the early history of the Italian Royal Army, including its prewar relations with its allies Germany and Austria-Hungary and its wartime experiences against the Turks in 1911-1912. He then explains Italian political and military activities during the “July Crisis,” its initial neutrality, and commitment to the Allied camp in early 1915, giving us a look at the poor state of the army as it went to war. Each of the war years, 1915-1918, is covered in a single chapter, which examines the growth of the army, gradual improvements in equipment, organization, tactics, and operations, followed by a chapter on the immediate postwar period, including occupation missions, demobilization, and reorganization. A great many individuals are profiled, chiefs-of-the-general staff Cardona and Diaz, politicians, generals, and staff officers (some of whom will pop up again in a later war). Gooch’s thesis, well documented and hard to argue with, is that the Italian Army was very unprepared for a major war but gradually developed into a capable fighting force, though that this achievement has been largely overlooked in most treatments of the war. A good read for anyone interested in the Great War, and particularly the “forgotten” theatres, especially for students of the Italian Army. '

For the full review, see StrategyPage.Com
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa12c66fc) out of 5 stars Great book!! March 22 2015
By JMG - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a Highly detailed and comprehensive book about Italian Political and Social issues that have adversely affected the Italian Nation and it's Armed Forces. Italy was a new nation formed in 1870 and unlike the strong Prussian State that Unified Germany at the same time, the Italian state was created by the Francophile, Piedmont Crown. The book goes to explain that the issues with Italian military lie with Socio-Politico of Italian landscape and that Italians are brave soldiers when properly led, motivated and given a reason to fight. Excellent, detailed book, the action moves along nicely. Only regret is I wish there were more Maps and Battle Maps w/ Army Groups and movements of armies, etc.