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Iron Hulls Iron Hearts: Mussolini's Elite Armoured Divisions in North Africa Paperback – July 15, 2006
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Military Vehicles Magazine, April 2006
"Iron Hulls, Iron Hearts sheds considerable light on a much neglected facet of the history of armored warfare."
About the Author
Ian W. Walker is a Civil Servant in the Scottish Office, but his great passion is history. He is also the author of Mercia and the making of England and Harold: The Last Anglo-Saxon King, which was shortlisted for the History Today Book of the Year prize.
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Top Customer Reviews
Although on average the Italian mobile divisions were not as good as the Germans and British ones, the authors point out why this was initially so, while also showing the improvements they made over time, so that by the end of this period, they were every bit as good as their contemporaries once you adjust expectations because their smaller size and obsolescent equipment. The poor reputation of World War II Italian fighting men that carries forward to this day was cemented in the losses the Italians suffered in 1940, and as the authors show, was a result of many factors: obsolescent/obsolete equipment, very poor leadership both at the national level and within armed forces, an inadequate industrial base, as well as wartime and post-war propaganda by the British and Germans. However, the Italians performed better after 1940, although they seldom received the credit they earned.
The book is well-organized and well-written, and provides a great deal of information on the Italian armed forces in general and on how Italian armored doctrine and tank development specifically evolved from inception through the Axis surrender in North Africa in 1943. The descriptions and analysis of the fighting during the desert war clearly show the strengths and weakness of the Italian soldiers, and provide a more balanced portrayal of their true combat capabilities. The 8 pages of black and white period pictures were also interesting, and would be useful to modelers.
This book does a good job providing a full view of the Italian armored units and gives the reader a more nuanced view of the fighting, and shows that without large number of Italians fighting at their side, the far less numerical Germans would not have been able to win their spectacular victories in Libya and Egypt, before their eventual defeat. I strongly recommend this book. Five stars.
So wrote Antonio Tomba , tank driver, Italian Ariete division during the final stages of the Battle of El Alamein, November 1942.
During that great battle there was no shortage of bravery and sacrifice from the men on either side of the opposing forces, but imagine if you will what courage it must of taken to enter into a fight that you knew you could not win, not from a lack of courage or a will to fight , but with antiquated equipment.
Ian M. Walker has done a superb job of bringing to light the bravery and sacrifice of the Italian soldier, so many times maligned as incompetent, cowardly and comical, by the Allied propaganda machine.
In his book Mr Walker brings to light details which for whatever reasons were not published before... his handling of the historical material takes the reader through the battles and more so the attitudes and mind set of the soldiers who fought them. He uses personal diaries of the men as well as after action reports sparingly but most effectively to keep the reader in touch with the "on the ground" experiences of those who took part.
I have never been more proud of my Italian heritage as i was after finishing this book.... i highly recommend this to any one.
Amazon delivered this to me, here in Australia, in timely fashion and up to now i have not had cause to find any fault on their part
Now someone needs to do a similar reassessment of Italian artillery...
Most Recent Customer Reviews
some way into addressing the standard view that the Italian soldier was...Read more