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The Italians who won the war – against us

A review of Target: Italy, by Roderick Bailey. Whatever their deficiencies on the battlefield the Italian secret service outwitted British Intelligence during the second world war

10 May 2014

9:00 AM

10 May 2014

9:00 AM

Target: Italy Roderick Bailey

Faber, pp.454, £20, ISBN: 9780571299188

Italy entered the second world war in circumstances very similar to those in which it signed up for the first. Its leaders waited for nine months after the outbreak until they thought they had identified the winner and extracted promises of territorial rewards. In 1915 they guessed rightly and attacked Austria, their formal ally for the past 33 years, and they seemed to have chosen correctly again in June 1940, when France was already beaten and the British had evacuated Dunkirk.

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Available from the Spectator Bookshop, £16. Tel: 08430 600033. David Gilmour is the author of The Pursuit of Italy.

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