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The White War: Life and Death on the Italian Front 1915-1919 (2008)

av Mark Thompson

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
4052148,344 (4.02)20
In May 1915, Italy declared war on the Habsburg Empire. Nearly 750,000 Italian troops were killed in savage, hopeless fighting on the stony hills north of Trieste and in the snows of the Dolomites. To maintain discipline, General Luigi Cadorna restored the Roman practice of decimation, executing random members of units that retreated or rebelled. With elegance and pathos, historian Mark Thompson relates the saga of the Italian front, the nationalist frenzy and political intrigues that preceded the conflict, and the towering personalities of the statesmen, generals, and writers drawn into the heart of the chaos. A work of epic scale, The White War does full justice to the brutal and heart-wrenching war that inspired Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms.… (mer)
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» Se även 20 omnämnanden

engelska (18)  italienska (3)  Alla språk (21)
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Agli albori del 1915 l’Italia è una nazione ancora da forgiare: non c’è una lingua, non c’è un sentimento comune. Gli italiani devono temprarsi in una solida unità nazionale. La soluzione è la guerra, la fucina il campo di battaglia. A pagarne il prezzo saranno i giovani costretti in un fronte che corre per seicento chilometri, dalle Dolomiti all’Adriatico. Combatteranno in un biancore di pietre e di neve che dura tutto l’anno, saranno uniti nella paura e nell’angoscia, uccideranno. Nel 1919 chi alla patria aveva dato tutto si lascia conquistare dalla «trincerocrazia» di Mussolini e dall’idea che la Grande guerra costituisca il fondamento della nazione. Si prepara così la scena per l’avvento del fascismo. Valorizzando fonti come i diari dell’epoca e le interviste ai veterani, lo storico inglese Mark Thompson con La guerra bianca restituisce il pathos degli assalti alle trincee, ripercorre con sobrietà e precisione l’epica del fronte italiano, mette a nudo la foga nazionalistica e gli intrighi politici che hanno preceduto il conflitto.
  kikka62 | Mar 20, 2020 |
My great grandfather was a Seargent Major in the Italian Infantry in this war. He was captured by the Austrians and kept for almost 3 years. He escaped late in the war and passed down a journal with his retelling of his time in the war. A tremendous treasure. This book did a great job filling in the history and details of the political climate surrounding the war that I did not know. ( )
  VinceLaFratta | Sep 25, 2018 |
My great grandfather was a Seargent Major in the Italian Infantry in this war. He was captured by the Austrians and kept for almost 3 years. He escaped late in the war and passed down a journal with his retelling of his time in the war. A tremendous treasure. This book did a great job filling in the history and details of the political climate surrounding the war that I did not know. ( )
1 rösta VinceLa | Sep 23, 2018 |
‘La più colossale, assassina e male organizzata macelleria’. Come ben sapeva Ernest Hemingway, la Grande Guerra è stata talmente orribile che gli Alleati hanno poi concesso ad Hitler anche l’inconcedibile pur di allontanare l’inizio di un nuovo conflitto. Atroce sul fronte occidentale, lo scontro fu particolarmente insensato su quello italoaustriaco, grazie anche alla crudeltà del Comando italiano. L’inglese Thompson smonta con cura la mitologia nata attorno al ’15-‘18, anni di sangue voluti da una minoranza e pagati a carissimo prezzo dagli strati più popolari del Paese, mandati al macello a volte senza neppure sapere perché. Oltre che di pietà, leggere queste pagine è fonte di sconforto e di rabbia. Ci sono i viscidi maneggi di Calandra per forzare l’entrata in guerra nella speranza di una rapida vittoria – errore che verrà ripetuto di lì a non molti anni – e le tattiche suicide di Cadorna, al quale non si capisce come ci possano ancora essere vie e piazze dedicate; la cattiveria al limite del sadismo delle punizioni nell’esercito ed il rifiuto di inviare i pacchi viveri ai prigionieri visti come traditori; la vittoria tardiva contro un impero morente e l’avido e incomprensibile comportamento alla conferenza di pace. Il tutto inquadrato in bei capitoli dedicati alla situazione sociale e culturale del tempo che includono, fra le varie sfaccettature, una pesantissima critica ad un giornalismo servile e pernicioso: il ritratto senza sconti di un Paese fragile e già avvelenato da inquietanti segnali protofascisti. ( )
  catcarlo | Dec 4, 2014 |
An excellent account of a forgotten front. Italy entered the war in hope of gaining territory, and the secret Treaty of London agreed with the French and the British, who had no great respect for Italy or the Italian military but hoped they could tie up sufficient Austro Hungarian troops to make life easier on the Western front, promised an unlikely grab bag of territories including Greek islands and the coast of Turkey. The best that can be said is, yes, they did tie up enough Austro Hungarian troops to make a significant contribution to the eventual collapse of the empire - but at what frightful cost.

All of the conflict took place either on the unforgiving Carso above Trieste, or in the Dolomites. I've been to some of the Dolomite war sites, and the task Italian troops were set by their commanders looks inhuman. The Austro Hungarians basically held all the high ground. The Italian troops were invited to charge uphill, across vast no man's land, in snow mist and fog, through barbed wire they had no means of cutting, whilst being machine gunned. It was a slaughter. And one that happened again and again and again.

Unlike the Western Front, where commanders did eventually realise that mass attacks in formation across no mans land were senseless, the Italian command had no such moment of illumination. Thompson identifies 6 specific occasions where the slaughter was so bad, and so pointless, that the Austrians ordered their soldiers to stop shooting and shouted to the Italians to go back to their trenches and stop throwing their lives away. This is unparalleled in the history of warfare.

The Italian army lost nearly 700,000 men killed in the war for a gain of almost nothing. The pride, incompetence and heartlessness on many fronts that led to this is exposed by Thompson but the majority of his barbs are reserved for the Commander of the Italian Armies, Luigi Cardona. Leaders of the massed armies on the Western front were careless with their men's lives as well, but very few would have made the suicidal loss of thousands of men per day such a point of pride. Combining a fatal measure of arrogance and imbecility, a great number of the lives of the dead were his responsibility. Especially when you consider that the brutal, Roman custom of decimation (killing one in every 10 of deserting or disgraced groups of soldiers) was in place, and that as well as being shot at from the front and sides by the Austrians, the Italian soldier was shot at from behind by the carabinieri and frequently bombed by his own artillery.

But Thompson also has huge contempt for the odious Gabrielle D'Annunzio (the description of his occupation of Fiume his very amusingly told) and for the Italian political class in general.

Its a sad story, beautifully told. Wherever possible Thompson brings individual soldiers, and their stories, into the limelight. Almost inevitably they were mistaken idealists. Almost inevitably , they died on the Carso. Of the illiterate multitudes who made up the majority of the army, we get a very different picture. Mostly, they had no idea what they were fighting for. Mostly they were from the South and the displaced Italian communities of Istria that were the casus belli for the war, meant nothing to them. Mostly they wanted to go home but died in silence in pointless mass slaughter

Did this lead to the mistrust in institutions that exists in Italy even today? That's hard to say. But it would have been very difficult for the average soldier not to draw the conclusion that their government cared only for its own interests and not for theirs. And as such, perhaps the state of Italy today is another long consequence of the war ( )
1 rösta Opinionated | Jun 22, 2014 |
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Mark Thompson has produced a history of the conduct of the First World War on the Italian front which is comprehensive, judicious and often beautifully written. It is a view primarily from an Italian rather than an Austrian point of view though as is perhaps obvious it is not particularly sympathetic to Italian war aims. It is even conceivable that some will find it anti-Italian...
 
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In May 1915, Italy declared war on the Habsburg Empire. Nearly 750,000 Italian troops were killed in savage, hopeless fighting on the stony hills north of Trieste and in the snows of the Dolomites. To maintain discipline, General Luigi Cadorna restored the Roman practice of decimation, executing random members of units that retreated or rebelled. With elegance and pathos, historian Mark Thompson relates the saga of the Italian front, the nationalist frenzy and political intrigues that preceded the conflict, and the towering personalities of the statesmen, generals, and writers drawn into the heart of the chaos. A work of epic scale, The White War does full justice to the brutal and heart-wrenching war that inspired Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms.

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