Hitler's Italian Allies : Royal Armed Forces, Fascist Regime, and the War of 1940-1943

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MacGregor Knox, "Hitler's Italian Allies : Royal Armed Forces, Fascist Regime, and the War of 1940-1943", Cambridge University Press | 2000 Year | ISBN: 0521790476 | PDF | ~1 Mb | 224 Pages

This "academic novella," as Knox calls his narrative study, is strongly committed to the "argument from stupidity": the assertion that ineffective or unsuccessful war efforts reflect not merely institutional weaknesses but culpable and comprehensive incompetence. In discussing Italian Fascists, KnoxAa chair of international history at the London School of Economics and Political ScienceAdescribes not merely armed forces but a government and a culture programmed for defeat. Italy's administration was unable to mobilize the country's manpower, to say nothing of its material resources. Its industry, Fiat in particular, was corrupt and incompetent, Knox demonstrates. At strategic levels, the Duce and the generals refused to set priorities or cut losses. As a result, Italy's already limited strength was dissipated after 1940 in theaters from Tunisia to Stalingrad. Logistics, communications, armament, doctrine, trainingAall were not merely inadequate but, Knox finds, seriously defective. Officer corps more concerned with securing the proverbial "good plate of pasta" than with developing the effectiveness of their respective services substituted vitalist rhetoric for objective analysis. Army leadership virtually ignored the connection between training and performance until 1941. Courage and intuition were expected to compensate for discipline and instruction. Until early 1943, virtually all Italian fighter pilots communicated with each other by hand signals, as in the days of the Red Baron. The list goes on and on here, and the result was best expressed by American war correspondent Ernie Pyle. Italy, he mused, was like a dog hit by a car because it tried to bite the tires. Knox's cool, matter-of-fact narrative evenly traces the ensuing tangle.