The Secret War against Mussolini, 1940-1943
The Official History of SOE Operations in Fascist Italy
By Roderick Bailey
Published by Faber & Faber; Distributed by Allen & Unwin
RRP $ 39.99 in hardback
In looking at the acknowledgements for this book, it’s not hard to imagine the depth of research that is needed and, indeed, the level of cooperation an author needs to piece this story together. Having a book commissioned by the Prime Minister, in this case British Prime Minister David Cameron, probably helps smooth the way.
The author Roderick Bailey is an historian at the University of Oxford and a specialist in the study of resistance and clandestine warfare, so well qualified to tackle the subject matter.
He has produced the first full account of SOE’s clandestine efforts to strike at Italy and sever its alliance with Nazi Germany, uncovering missions as remarkable as a plot to assassinate Mussolini and plans to arm the Mafia.
It is also the first in-depth history of SOE’s attempts at causing trouble inside an enemy country as opposed to an enemy-occupied one, issuing a sobering reminder of the terrible dangers that foreign agencies can encounter when trying to encourage resistance to powerful authoritarian regimes.
This is a compelling tale, climaxing in one of the most extraordinary episodes of the war: the delicate and dramatic dealings between the Allies and the Italians that led to Italy’s surrender in 1943.
For a more detailed, review go to this link at the Telegraph.