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The Italian Army and the First World War (Armies of the Great War)

by John Gooch

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181962,949 (4)1
This is a major new account of the role and performance of the Italian army during the First World War. Drawing from original, archival research, it tells the story of the army's bitter three-year struggle in the mountains of Northern Italy, including the eleven bloody battles of the Isonzo, the near-catastrophic defeat at Caporetto in 1917 and the successful, but still controversial defeat of the Austro-Hungarian army at Vittorio Veneto on the eve of the Armistice. Setting military events within a broader context, the book explores pre-war Italian military culture and the interactions between domestic politics, economics and society. In a unique study of an unjustly neglected facet of the war, John Gooch illustrates how General Luigi Cadorna, a brutal disciplinarian, drove the army to the edge of collapse, and how his successor, general Armando Diaz, rebuilt it and led the Italians to their greatest victory in modern times.… (more)
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John Gooch is probably the leading scholar of the Italian military in English so he was the ideal person to write this history of Italian military participation in the Great War. What is particularly valuable here is that Gooch goes into some depth as to what passed for the Italian military tradition in 1914, a history that had seen more failure than success and had produced an army that was more of a bolster to the Italian royal house than an effective operational force. The most striking thing is the potential that was revealed when General Luigi Cadorna, an officer who was a better courtier than a leader of men, was replaced by Armando Diaz, who achieved a virtual miracle in reforming an army capable of taking the offensive in the wake of the defeat of Caporetto; Gooch does not scoff at the battle of Vittorio Veneto. The problem came after the war, as social conflict undid the Italian political system and military officers found common ground with Benito Mussolini in regards to bolstering Italy's security concerns in the Balkans. That is another story though. ( )
  Shrike58 | Feb 18, 2019 |
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This is a major new account of the role and performance of the Italian army during the First World War. Drawing from original, archival research, it tells the story of the army's bitter three-year struggle in the mountains of Northern Italy, including the eleven bloody battles of the Isonzo, the near-catastrophic defeat at Caporetto in 1917 and the successful, but still controversial defeat of the Austro-Hungarian army at Vittorio Veneto on the eve of the Armistice. Setting military events within a broader context, the book explores pre-war Italian military culture and the interactions between domestic politics, economics and society. In a unique study of an unjustly neglected facet of the war, John Gooch illustrates how General Luigi Cadorna, a brutal disciplinarian, drove the army to the edge of collapse, and how his successor, general Armando Diaz, rebuilt it and led the Italians to their greatest victory in modern times.

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