Mussolini's War: Fascist Italy from Triumph to Collapse, 1935–1943

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A conversation with Professor John Gooch on his book, Mussolini's War: Fascist Italy from Triumph to Collapse, 1935–1943, which was awarded the Duke of Wellington Medal for Military History 2021.


While staying closely aligned with Hitler, Mussolini remained carefully neutral until the summer of 1940. With the wholly unexpected collapse of the French and British armies, it appeared that the fighting was about to come to an end with a complete German victory.

Unable to sit idly by, Mussolini declared war on the allies in the hope of making territorial gains in southern France and Africa. This decision proved a huge miscalculation, which plunged Italy into its own prolonged and unwinnable war, with immense casualties and an Allied invasion in 1943. It ended Italy's independence and ushered in a terrible new era for the country, as a battlefield between Nazi and Allied forces.

In this wide-ranging conversation, Professor Gooch will detail Italy’s war experience, from the invasion of Abyssinia through to its military campaigns in Europe and elsewhere in Africa, until Mussolini’s eventual arrest. He will discuss Italy’s centrality to the war and outline the brief rise and disastrous fall of the Italian military campaign.

Professor John Gooch is Emeritus Professor of International History at the University of Leeds. He is one of the world’s leading writers on Italy and the two world wars.

Mussolini's War: Fascist Italy from Triumph to Collapse, 1935–1943 was published by Penguin in May 2021.

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