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on 10 May 2017
Very informative about the Italian armoured units in WWII, which is a frequently overlooked area of military history. Well researched giving an unbiased view on the contribution of these unite to the axis struggle in Africa. Well worth the price. 4 stars given as the maps were a little difficult to read effectively.
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A history of the Italian Army’s three armoured divisions in North Africa is something that we have not had in the sandstorm of North African campaign books. The author “goes native” in defending his Italians from British contempt and German blame but, it seemed to me, not overly so. He does not, however, like Rommel who he seems to consider a reckless gambler who blamed others when his gambles came adrift. I am bound to say that I see the author’s point. He starts his account in World War One with the first armoured units and goes through the inter-war years so that we understand where the problems arose. The massacres of turret-less tanks in Eithiopia and the leaving of so much kit in Spain are all interesting points.
As a general summary I found this most useful. The meat of the book is the accounts of the fighting (mostly of Ariete). Because Walker describes this as it affects the Italian units one sees features often missed in other accounts where our gaze is taken elsewhere. The courage of the Italian crews in their undergunned M13s was to be the fate of their opponents in Normandy. The corresponding pride of Semovente units is notable. Some good photos and passable maps all make this a useful book on an undercovered bit of history.
The title is the Armoured Corps motto.
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on 14 February 2004
This is by far the best, most comprehensive and fairest account of the performance of Italian armoured forces in WWII appeared in the English language literature so far. It also touches, though only peripherally, upon key issues regarding Italy's war conduct weaknesses and their causes. Despite occasional mistakes (the narration of the September 1942 actions should be partly rewritten), moot points (Nibeiwa battle details, Mechili action and losses, the initial Italian "surrender" at Bir el Gubi), omissions and slight inaccuracies, this book can be rated as a milestone in the gradual revision of the received WWII wisdom about Italy's participation in the war. Highly recommended to all readers with an interest in the topic.
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on 2 May 2009
Military operations are all too often recounted in confusing and / or quite dull narrative, but in contrast I found this book highly readable and enjoyable. Ian Walker's thesis is that the war in North Africa was really Fascist Italy's colonial war against the British, but that this has been obscured due to the focus of virtually all historical accounts on either the Allied victors, or to almost as great an extent, the Deutsche Afrika Korps. He works in plenty of extracts from first hand Italian accounts in order to maintain a human perspective and includes evidence along the way of how, even at the time, the Italian contribution to the Axis effort in North Africa was underrated despite them often making up the bulk of the Axis forces. My only criticism is that the maps are a little basic in presentation. Otherwise, fascinating and very well written.
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on 28 August 2013
Iron Hulls Iron hearts
A great book on a little explored subject. The Italian role in the Axis offensives in the desert war in 1941-2. Received history (British and German) attributes this reversal of fortunes to Rommel's 3 armoured divisions, while the Italian army served in a supporting role. The author questions this version, pointing out that most of the axis army was Italian. Specifically this book deals with the 2 Italian armoured divisions, Ariete and Littorio and their role in the battles leading up to and including El Alemein. A detailed and enthralling book.
However, the book often lacks detailed maps to support the descriptions of troop movements. It also fails to put the events into any meaningful context. So we are never told the size ( even in estimate) of allied units opposing the Italian armoured divisions - nor are the events put into a general context of the wider campaign or what was happening strategically. The author merely focusses in detail on the events as seen from within the armoured division itself. Perhaps due to an over-reliance on Italian sources? - it often sounds like a regimental history.
However, a fantastic read and a brilliant insight into what Italian tankmen experienced during the desert war. It could have been so much better though.
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on 28 September 2016
great book on source material giving an alternate look into the north africa campain
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on 16 March 2016
Great product - as advertised and quick delivery.
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on 22 December 2010
This is a book for study, not for a lecture as a whole in one time. I use it for the moment on a study concerning Operation Crusader and the tankbattles around Bir el Gubi.
Clear writing and detailed account.
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