Isonzo

By John Schindler

Published by Praeger (2001)

This is the first account in English of a much-overlooked, but important, First World War battlefront located in the mountains astride the border between Italy and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Not well known in the West, the battles of Isonzo were nevertheless ferocious, and compiled a record of bloodletting that totaled over 1.75 million for both sides. In sharp contrast to claims that neither the Italian nor the Austrian armies were viable fighting forces, Schindler aims to bring the terrible sacrifices endured by both armies back to their rightful place in the history of 20th century Europe. The Habsburg Empire, he contends, lost the war for military and economic reasons rather than for political or ethnic ones. Schindler's account includes references to remarkable personalities such as Mussolini; Tito; Hemingway; Rommel, and the great maestro Toscanini. This Alpine war had profound historical consequences that included the creation of the Yugoslav state, the problem of a rump Austrian state looking to Germany for leadership, and the traumatic effects on a generation of young Italian men who swelled the ranks of the fascists. After nearly a century, Isonzo can assume its proper place in the ranks of the tragic Great War clashes, alongside Verdun, the Somme, and Passchendaele.

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