Academic journal article Military Review

Mussolini and the British

Academic journal article Military Review

Mussolini and the British

Article excerpt

MUSSOLINI AND THE BRITISH by Richard Lamb. 356 pages. John Murray, London. Distributed by Trafalgar Square, North Pomfret, VT. 1998. $45.00.

Mussolini and the British is a valuable case study in diplomacy, foreign policy and strategy. Richard Lamb completely recasts the common interpretation of Anglo-Italian relations' role in the origins of World War II.

England and Italy were not inevitable enemies. Lamb argues that British attitudes toward II DuceMussolini-were an unending series of missteps and misunderstandings. Successive British administrations missed several significant opportunities to prevent an alliance between Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany.

That Mussolini and Adolf Hitler were anything but natural allies is not surprising. Italy was never enthusiastic about the Anschluss of Austria to Germany. Mussolini had worked hard to bring Austria under his own sphere of influence. He was even less excited about the thought of German domination in the Balkans or forging an iron-clad military alliance with Hitler.

Lamb's research suggests that divisions between Germany and Italy were not only wide but ripe for exploitation. This remarkable and engaging study in balance of power diplomacy demonstrates that Mussolini tried to steer an independent, even at times anti-Hitler, foreign policy and that the British persistently failed to take advantage of the situation. …

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