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Morale and the Italian Army during the First World War


Part of Cambridge Military Histories

  • Date Published: December 2018
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781316610152

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About the Authors
  • Italian performance in the First World War has been generally disparaged or ignored compared to that of the armies on the Western Front, and troop morale in particular has been seen as a major weakness of the Italian army. In this first book-length study of Italian morale in any language, Vanda Wilcox reassesses Italian policy and performance from the perspective both of the army as an institution and of the ordinary soldiers who found themselves fighting a brutally hard war. Wilcox analyses and contextualises Italy's notoriously hard military discipline along with leadership, training methods and logistics before considering the reactions of the troops and tracing the interactions between institutions and individuals. Restoring historical agency to soldiers often considered passive and indifferent, Wilcox illustrates how and why Italians complied, endured or resisted the army's demands through balancing their civilian and military identities.

    • Approaches morale from both a top-down and bottom-up angle, placing due emphasis on army policy as well as soldiers' experience
    • Addresses Italy's performance in the war from a new angle, changing thinking on the Italian army as an institution as well as debates about Italian peasant soldiers
    • Based on a rich and diverse range of Italian primary sources
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    Reviews & endorsements

    ''Italians welcomed the Fascist salute because they were tired of putting up both hands.' Such dismissals of Italy's military morale in World War I remain the subtext of much work on the subject. Wilcox makes a correspondingly major contribution by concentrating on compliance as central to sustaining fighting power in a war where motivation was otherwise limited. Italy's soldiers, still subjects as much as citizens, came from a culture of obligation tempered by reciprocity and negotiation. Wilcox demonstrates how that balance, often unstable, nevertheless sustained a war effort often brave and ultimately victorious.' Dennis Showalter, Professor Emeritus of History, Colorado College

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    Product details

    • Date Published: December 2018
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781316610152
    • length: 238 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 153 x 13 mm
    • weight: 0.4kg
    • contains: 2 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    Part I. Army Policies and Morale:
    2. Leadership, command culture and organisation
    3. Incentivising high morale
    4. Discipline
    5. Combat readiness
    Part II. Italians under Arms:
    6. Endurance: experience and the negotiation of identity
    7. Consent and compliance
    8. Refusal: indiscipline, protest and nervous collapse
    9. Conclusion

  • Author

    Vanda Wilcox, John Cabot University, Rome
    Vanda Wilcox completed a D.Phil. at the University of Oxford in 2006 before moving to Rome, where she now teaches at John Cabot University. She has published on Italian military leadership, training and battlefield performance as well as the popular experience and memory of the First World War in Italy. A member of the International Society for First World War Studies since 2003, she is now working on the imperial and colonial aspects of Italy's war experience.

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