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Mussolini and the Origins of the Second World War, 1933-1940 by M. Feldman, Robert Mallett

Mussolini and the Origins of the Second World War, 1933-1940


Part of the The Making of the Twentieth Century Series


Mussolini and the Origins of the Second World War, 1933-1940 by M. Feldman, Robert Mallett

The true nature of Mussolini's foreign policy during the late interwar period has been the subject of considerable controversy. Was Mussolini in reality pro-British, even as late as June 1940; or was his international policy more sinister and based on conquering a Fascist empire in North Africa and the Middle East?Robert Mallett makes use of much new archival evidence in order to answer this riddle of interwar history. Mallett argues that Mussolini had harboured imperial designs in the Mediterranean and Red Sea from as early as 1919, but that not until 1933, with the rise of Hitler, was it possible for Fascist Italy to pursue a programme of territorial expansion. Previously unpublished material also casts new light on the Nazi-Fascist relationship, revealing it to be at times paranoid, acrimonious and duplicitous on both sides. Although the book focuses on Italian policy, it provides an important reassessment of the Ethiopian Crisis, the Spanish Civil War, the Austro-German Anschluss, Munich and the run up to the Second World War. Mallett shows that it is erroneous to place excessive emphasis on the role of Adolf Hitler in subverting the interwar international order, and demonstrates that Mussolini was heavily implicated in the global conflict that erupted in September 1939.


'This is an excellent study of a little-known but important aspect of the Second World War. It has the great merit of being easy to read at the same time as using much unpublished material from the Italian State Archives.' - Denis Mack Smith, Emeritus Fellow, All Souls, Oxford, and Emeritus Fellow, Peterhouse, Cambridge 'This is an excellent introduction to a neglected topic. It will clarify for my students some of the mysteries of Italian fascist foreign policy.' - Dr Maria Quine, Queen Mary, University of London 'Provides the clearest, freshest and most compelling interpretation of Italian policy regarding the background and origins of World War II, and...presents a broad new range of integrated diplomatic and military research that grounds its conclusions more effectively than any previous study. It stands as the key work on Italian policy and the origins of the war.' - Stanley G. Payne, Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions 'As Robert Mallett clearly shows in his well-researched, well-written and important study of Italian foreign policy in the 1930s, Mussolini set out to exploit the instability in Europe occasioned by Hitler's rise to power in order to pursue a series of well-defined expansionist goals.' - Times Literary Supplement'

About the Author

ROBERT MALLETT is Visiting Lecturer in Modern History at the University of Birmingham.

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Book Info

Publication date

1st July 2003


M. Feldman, Robert Mallett

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Palgrave Macmillan


266 pages


European history
Second World War
Political leaders & leadership
Fascism & Nazism



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