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Target: Italy: The Secret War Against Mussolini 1940-1943 by [Bailey, Roderick]
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Target: Italy: The Secret War Against Mussolini 1940–1943 Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Length: 464 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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[A] gripping history of Britain's undercover role in fomenting anti-Fascist activity in wartime Italy. (The Observer)

An inspiring study about the courage of undercover wartime operatives... The great skill of this book is to demonstrate that war is both brutal and dizzyingly unpredictable ... Bailey not only pays tribute to determined and brave people, but unravels a web of conflict in a beautiful land. (Sinclair McKay Daily Telegraph)

Roderick Bailey is a fine historian who has researched his subject and given his tale a strong narrative drive. (David Gilmour The Spectator)

[Bailey] has an eye for the colourful characters drawn to undercover operations. (The Economist)

[R]eadable and authoritative... vividly described... [T]he role of British intelligence agencies in the Second World War is now better understood. (Christopher Andrew Literary Review)

Roderick Bailey is a fluent writer, with a fine eye for personalities, and this book is, apart from its solid professional virtues, a very good read. The nightmarish and brutal world of underground work against Fascism in Italy is well covered... Drama is ever present. As in Eric Ambler novels, suitcases full of explosives were hidden in crummy hotels, and secret assignations made on trains. It was a world far from the Geneva conventions ... A great strength of the book is the use of oral interviews and Italian archival material, in contrast to earlier SOE histories which depend mostly on British documents (Times Literary Supplement)

[A] precious testimony to our past ... [W]ell written, well structured and with an absolutely flawless series of sources. (Angelo Paratico Corriere della Sera)

Drawing on long-classified documents . . . a readable, fast-paced narrative. (Ian Thomson Observer)

Book Description

Target: Italy by Roderick Bailey details the unknown story of the cloak-and-dagger war fought by British secret agents against Mussolini's Italy in the Second World War.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3126 KB
  • Print Length: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (29 April 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00ILZ6WY4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #360,279 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback
This was one of our Christmas books about the male SOE missions in Italy. My first job, for the month of August 1978, was for the Olivetti's showroom in Edgware Road. Wasn't the one who lived in London a great friend to Martha Gellhorn? I think so. This book was woven into a readable story but it was a bit "army" for me. I've preferred some of the other books about the SOE female agents - see elsewhere on my Profile page.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Myths deceive, and preserve false incomplete stereotypes. In World War Two Fascist Italy was deemed a loser on every front, from which Churchill presented the future planned invasion of Europe to be launched through the weak partner, the "soft underbelly", and British school children repeated the derogatory idea that the Italian book of heroes was the world's smallest book. It may have led to the false hope that intelligence in Italy would be week end excursion.

Roderick Bailey's Target: Italy is the second, and accompanying history to David Stafford's Mission Accomplished Mission Accomplished: SOE and Italy 1943-1945, and takes the story from the outbreak of the war in June to the armistice in September 1943, whereas the other continues to the end of the war. It was longer in the making, and does not follow the same chronological geographical operation pattern adopted by Stafford, nor that of the collection of biographies of agents penned by Alan Ogden A Spur Called Courage, even if two of the surviving protagonists: Maj. Malcolm Munthe, MC, and Maj. Dick Dallimore-Mallaby, MC, feature in both tomes.
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Format: Paperback
This is an Official History of Special Operations Executive in Fascist Italy and was published in 2014.

A brilliant account of the attempt to 'set (Italy) ablaze', which was Churchill's ToR for SOE. For clearly explained reasons it was largely a failure until the end, in one particularly odd episode - a captured SOE radio operator acting as a link between the post-Mussolini Italian government and the Allies.

Given contemporary campaigns in many places there is much to learn about operating in a harsh environment, culture and security feature. The Italian security services repeatedly "turned" operations round.

Two episodes fascinated me and only briefly mentioned. A RN submarine in the summer of 1943 landed two Italian NKVD (later KGB) agents on the north-west coast; following an inter-allied agreement to do so and no-one knows what happened to them.

In mid-1943 two Italian saboteurs from the elite San Marco Regiment (Marines) were landed in Libya to attack airfields and were captured - offered in a possible PoW exchange. Following the success of the SAS earlier in attacking the same airfields, although arriving overland.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a book for those whose prime interest is in history rather than simply wanting a good read. It is very well researched and well illustrates the difficulties involved in spying on a country with whom you are at war rather than one like France which has been occupied by an enemy. There are tragic heroes. There is double crossing. And there is confusing detail. A sobering but informative read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very interesting and readable account. I was particularly interested in SOE's part in facilitating the secret armistice negotiations between Italy and the Allies - I didn't know anything about that, thank you. Moreover, this activity by the SOE seems to have been a genuine success, given that the overall effectiveness of so much else that the SOE did is questionable. Good read.
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Format: Hardcover
The research underpinning this book is massive and the balance magisterial. The author has mastered the official long classified records and set these against a wealth of new research he has conducted in Italian(and other) records. This leads to his fascinatingly balanced judgements which deal fairly with the few (if worthy) SOE successes and are properly critical of their frequent failures.
After reading this absorbing book, I understand how and why SOE knowledge of Italy was so sparse. I also understand the enormous difficulties they faced in finding Italians who were prepared to work with them and how surprisingly efficient the Italian counter resistance was.
Thoroughly recommended. I am off to buy The Wildest Province, the author's account of SOE operations in the Balkans.
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By Dr Barry Clayton TOP 500 REVIEWER on 3 May 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Anyone who has ever been associated with intelligence and counter-intelligence knows about failures, they are inevitable given the nature of the game. In this book by Oxford historian Roderick Bailey we are told about hare-brained schemes and incompetent agents involved inside Italy in WW11.

Mussolini's Italy was extremely difficult terrain for SOE, far more difficult than, say France. In Italy agents faced a ruthless secret police and a very efficient SIM, a facist counter-intelligence organisation. The author describes operations that went wrong-he would have had plenty to chose from.

The most interesting part of the book is when Bailey explains how we viewed the Italians, frankly as buffoons. This was a gross error based as it was on ethnic bias and ignorance. As a result we picked many for saboteurs who were emigres, for example, those living around Soho. Most of their ideas such as poisoning Mussolini's pasta and using the Rome sewers were useless and impracticable.

The members of SOE and their agents were very brave but unfortunately the training was often amateurish. Also there was a disturbing lack of linguistic skills, few spoke Italian. As a result there were many bungled and failed missions.

The author is at times a little unfair to SOE and their operations. It is easy to list the failures but more attention should have been paid to the enormous problems associated with conducting operations inside an enemy country. The logistical problems alone were enormous. More emphasis is also needed on how these operations had to be planned and organised from scratch at a time when resources were scarce, and when many influential people in goverment and the miltary argued that such endeavours were a total waste of money. Remember as well that prior to D-Day our military actions against the Axis were severely limited.

An interesting book but one that contains very little that has not been known for very many years.
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