By James J. Sadkovich
This revisionist history convincingly argues that the Regia Marina Italiana (the Royal Italian Navy) has been neglected and maligned in assessments of its contributions to the Axis effort in World War II. After all, Italy was the major Axis player in the Mediterranean, and it was the Italian navy and air force, with only sporadic help from their German ally, that stymied the British navy and air force for most of the thirty-nine months that Italy was a belligerent. It was the Royal Italian Navy that provided the many convoys that kept the Axis war effort in Africa alive by repeatedly braving attack by aircraft, submarine, and surface vessels. If doomed by its own technical weaknesses and Ultra (the top-secret British decoding device), the Italian navy still fought a tenacious and gallant war; and if it did not win that war, it avoided defeat for thirty-nine, long, frustrating months.