The RUSI of NSW Badge
 Search this Site

 Search the Library Catalogue
 

The Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies NSW

Use the button top right to donate much needed funds to the The Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies NSW so that its valuable work can continue ...
DONATE

 
The White War

By: Mark Thompson (574/36035)
Publisher: Faber and Faber ISBN: 9780571223336.

The first narrative history, for the general reader, of the Italian front: a major forgotten conflict of the First World War.

In May 1915, Italy declared war on the Habsburg Empire, hoping to seize its ‘lost’ territories of Trieste and Tyrol. The result was one of the most hopeless and senseless modern wars – and one that inspired great cruelty and destruction. Nearly three-quarters of a million Italians – and half as many Austro-Hungarian troops – were killed. Most of the deaths occurred on the bare grey hills north of Trieste, and in the snows of the Dolomite Alps. Outsiders who witnessed these battles were awestruck by the difficulty of attacking on such terrain.

General Luigi Cadorna, most ruthless of all the Great War commanders, restored the Roman practice of ‘decimation’, executing random members of units that retreated or rebelled. Italy sank into chaos and, eventually, fascism. Its liberal traditions did not recover for a quarter of a century – some would say they have never recovered.

Mark Thompson relates this nearly incredible saga with great skill and pathos. Much more than a history of terrible violence, the book tells the whole story of the war: the nationalist frenzy that led up to it, the decisions that shaped it, the poetry it inspired, its haunting landscapes, political intrigues and its dire consequences.

Thompson also evokes the personalities of its statesmen and generals, and the experience of ordinary soldiers – among them some of modern Italy’s greatest writers.

February 2009


PO Box A778, SYDNEY SOUTH NSW 1235; Anzac Memorial, Hyde Park South, SYDNEY NSW; Telephone: +61 (0)2 8262 2922; Email:
Open Monday to Thursday 1100 to 1500 hours.
© The Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies New South Wales Incorporated - ABN 80 724 654 162