on 14 December 1999
Greene and Massignani have written an interesting foundation to the naval war in the Mediterranen. They have some good sources, especially from the Italian side and their book is something of an encyclopaedia of the action, interspersed with shrewd political analyses. The subject is dealt with sympathetically, and it is a pleasant change to see the Italian Navy portrayed in rather better light than is often the case. Where the book fails is in the dire subediting! There are hundreds of spelling mistakes and sometimes the prose simply does not make sense, prompting this reviewer to arrive at the conclusion that some of the translation of source documents was either below standard, or below standard translations were accepted. Moreover there are certain small errors which come to light from time to time... during the chapter dealing with the proposed invasion of Malta, reference is made to objectives which were in Cyprus! The balance of the book is a little awry as well, with the early days of the war receiving disproportionately more emphasis than the latter and final stages. This is a shame, as otherwise the book is enjoyable and gallops along handsomely. I would urge the authors to review, revise and issue a second edition.
on 29 January 2015
This book is a much needed telling of the story from the Italian side a side that was far more capable than is often realised,it concentrates on the surface/air war and not so much on submarines that are well covered elsewhere although they do get more than a mention, it is fair to both sides no heroics or changing history the Authors point out the good and bad points of both, it is worth five stars just for the amount of information it gives about the Italian forces alone and their relationship with their German allies and interesting to me why their fall of shot was poor although this was not always apparent to those on the receiving end, this information is not always easy to find in English language books as the focus is mostly on the German armed forces,a hard fought and very close run campaign is described in a detailed but very readable way that leaves you in no doubt of what the personnel of both sides endured in what was never a sideshow.
on 3 January 1999
This superb new book covers the course of the naval war in the Mediterranean from 10th June 1940 (Italy's entry into the war) until the armistice in September 1943. The main body of the book is preceded by a couple of scene setting chapters which cover the development of the forces which were to be involved, the self-inflicted problems which the main protagonists saddled themselves with (in particular, the Italian navy's problems with the development of organic air rival only the Germans for political backstabbing!) and the involvement of the Italian navy in the Spanish Civil War
The book seeks to strikes a balance between socio political background and what the authors describe as " guns and bugles" history (i.e. detailed accounts of actions) and it succeeds in this very well. The background to many of the battles and campaigns is explained in a concise manner and goes a long way to explaining why navies do what they do in particular situations. An ever present theme is the effect of fuel restrictions on the Italian Fleet and German frustration that, despite apparently adequate supplies from German resources, the Italian navy never seemed to be able to fill its tanks (fuel was actually managed centrally and much of what the Germans thought was going to the Navy was distributed to the army and air force). Another aspect is the Allied technical superiority, particularly in radar and intelligence gathering (ULTRA).
The book draws on a fantastic amount of research with 26 pages of notes and 6 pages of bibliography appended to the main text - all of them relevant and all of them offering the chance for further in-depth study of specific topics. Inevitably this research has thrown up some curious "what ifs", such as Operation Felix, the German plan to invade Gibraltar via Spain, and German plans to bring the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau into the Mediterranean to join the Italian Fleet. Throughout the authors have attempted to reconcile the differences between established text and battle histories from the opposing sides. The opportunity is taken to update some previously held views on particular actions with the hindsight of access to ULTRA records (the Germans were convinced that traitors within the Italian administration were leaking information, whereas ULTRA intercepts managed to keep the Allies well informed about the future activities of the Axis forces.
This is an excellent book on a subject favoured by many naval historians and wargames and is essential reading. It is also a cracking good read, and is very difficult to put down once started!