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Fascist Italy has received far too little attention in the military history of the Axis partnership. This is the first comprehensive study of Benito Mussolini's military efforts to build an empire during World War II.

It details the fascist dictator's attempt to build both a Mediterranean empire and Balkan empire, as well as a narrative history of his tragically flawed illusions; Italy's disastrous military performance; the heroism of Italian soldiers, sailors, and airmen; and the brutal counterinsurgency programs. Italy's various war theaters are discussed singly, with major battles outlined, military aptitude and results judged, and relations with the Axis partner described. Fascist ideology and the Italian army's conduct in the occupied territories—France, Yugoslavia, Albania, Greece, Russia, East Africa, and North Africa—are also analyzed. Mussolini was the single individual most responsible for Italy's failure during World War II.

H. James Burgwyn is professor emeritus of history at Westchester University and the author of important works on modern Italian history.

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