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Italian Official Histories
For many reasons, official government-sponsored texts cannot be the last word in military history, but we're convinced, for many reasons, that they almost always make an excellent starting point.
Thus we bring you information on some unusual official history volumes that offer a whole new perspective on the war: the view from Rome. These Italian histories, much like the American "green books," began arriving in the immediate post-war years and continued to appear for several decades. They cover the entire spectrum of Italian participation, but for this installment we present only the "ground" volumes. (We'll save the air and naval tomes for another day!)
Given the wealth of maps, OBs, and tabular materials in the books, there is much to be uncovered just by browsing, even if your Italian language skills are barely sufficient to order yourself a beer in Naples. Just about anyone with a modicum of knowledge about the campaigns and armed with an Italian-English dictionary can extract even more information from the text.
As far as locating the titles, I have never seen any of them offered in English-language catalogs for new or used books. I believe most are out of print, but can't confirm this as no one in Rome has ever responded to my queries. Some university libraries have a few of them and they can often be borrowed through Inter-Library Loan desks.
No individual authors are credited for any of these, but the "corporate author" on the title page is usually shown as "Stato Maggiore Dell'Esercito", "Ministero della Difesa", or "Ministero della Guerra" in the various volumes. Most libraries tend to catalog them as "Italy. Esercito."
The headings below are strictly for this presentation and don't reflect any element of the actual book titles.
Italy's War Begins
La Battaglia delle Alpi Occidentali: Giugno, 1940. Rome: Ufficio Storico, 1947. Italian invasion of France, 1940. 192 pages. 16 maps in rear pocket.
La Campagna di Grecia, vol 2 [Documents]. Rome: Ufficio Storico, 1980. 1024 pages.
La Campagna di Grecia, vol 3: [Maps and Photographs]. Rome: Ufficio Storico, 1980. 266 pages.
Le Operazioni delle unita italiane in Jugoslavia, 1941-1943. Rome: Ufficio Storico, 1978. 510 pages.
La Prima Offensiva Britannica in Africa Settentrionale, vol 1 [Text]. Rome: Ufficio Storico, 1979. 398 pages. O'Connor's offensive (including the capture of Bardia and Tobruk and the Battle of Beda Fomm) up to the eve of Rommel's first offensive into Cyrenaica.
La Prima Offensiva Britannica in Africa Settentrionale, vol 2 [Maps]. Rome: Ufficio Storico, 1979. Packet of maps in a separate folder to accompany volume one.
La Prima Controffensiva Italo-Tedesca in Africa Settentrionale. Rome: Ufficio Storico, 1974. 407 pages. Folding maps bound in back. Covers the period 15 February 1941 through 18 November 1941 and includes Rommel's first offensive; first siege of Tobruk; Operation Brevity; Operation Battleaxe; operations at the desert oases.
Seconda Offensiva Britannica in Africa Settentrionale e Ripiegamento Italo-Tedesco Nella Sirtica Orientale (18 Novembre 1941 - 17 Gennaio 1942). Rome: Ufficio Storico, 1949. 253 pages. Operation Crusader.
Seconda Controffensiva Italo-Tedesca in Africa Settentrionale da El Agheila a El Alamein, Gennaio - Settembre 1942. Rome: Ufficio Storico, 1951. 432 pages. Rommel's second offensive; fall of Tobruk; First Battle of Alamein.
Terza Offensiva Britannica in Africa Settentrionale, vol 1 [Text]. Rome: Ufficio Storico, 1961. Second Alamein and the Axis retreat.
Terza Offensiva Britannica in Africa Settentrionale, vol 2 [Maps]. Rome: Ufficio Storico, 1961. Packet of maps to accompany volume 1.
Le Operazioni Italo-Tedesche in Tunisia, 11 Novembre 1942 - 13 Maggio 1943, vol 2: Il XXX Corpo d'Armata Italiano in Tunisia. Rome: Ufficio Storico, 1952. Italian XXX Corps operations in Tunisia.
Le Operazioni delle Unita Italiane al Fronte Russo, 1941-1943. Roma: Officio Storico, 1977.
L'8a Armata Italiana nella Seconda Battaglia Difensiva del Don. Rome: Ufficio Storico, 1946. 70 pages.
I Servizi Logistici delle unit'a Italiane al Fronte Russo 1941-43. Rome: Ufficio Storico, 1975.
Il I Raggruppamento Motorizzato Italiano (1943-1944). Rome: Ufficio Storico, 1949. 211 pages. The first Co-Belligerent unit fighting alongside the Allies.
Il Corpo Italiano di Liberazione, Aprile-Settembre 1944. Rome: Ufficio Storico, 1950. The expanded Co-Belligerent unit.
I Gruppi di Combattimento. Rome: Ufficio Storico, 1951. The reorganized Co-Belligerent "combat groups."
Cronologia della Seconda Guerra Mondiale. Rome: Ufficio Storico, 1948. 553 pages.
Reviewed 27 August 1996
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