Caporetto and the Isonzo Campaign (ePub)
The Italian Front, 1915–1918
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From May 1915 to October 1917 the armies of Italy and the Austro-Hungarian empire were locked into a series of twelve battles along the River Isonzo, a sixty-mile front from the Alps to the Adriatic. The campaign was fought in the most appalling terrain for combat, with horrendous casualties on both sides, often exceeding those of the more famous battles of the Great War. Yet this massive struggle is too often neglected in histories of the war which focus on the fighting on the Western and Eastern Fronts. John Macdonald, in this accessible and highly illustrated account, aims to set the record straight. His description of the Isonzo battles, of the battlefields and of the atrocious conditions in which the soldiers lived and fought is supported by a graphic selection of original photographs that record the terrible reality of the conflict.
'Certainly this is one to add to the bookshelf for anyone who wants to add to their knowledge of the Italian Front and for all those generally interested in the Great War. Highly Recommended 10/10.' Great War Magazine
'With its 130 or so excellent and previously unseen photographs gives a good description of the campaign based partly on the experience of individuals.'
The Military History Society
As featured byVaeVictis, n° 150 - March/April 2020
Featured inGreat War July 2019
MacDonald gives us a concise, yet informative look not only at how the battles unfolded, within the framework of the greater war. He gives us some excellent looks at the respective armies, their equipment, organization, and evolution through the war, and at their commanders, most notably the inept and brutal Italian chief-of-staff Luigi Cadorna, incapable of understanding the nature of the war, and very able Svetozar Boroevic, an ethnic Croatian Austro-Hungarian general.Strategy Page, A. A. Nofi
Read the complete review here.
This is certainly the best short account of the campaign, an useful for anyone looking for a quick introduction.New York Military Affairs
I enjoyed this book, it is an easily readable introduction for the military history enthusiast to a lesser-known theatre of the Great War. It is well illustrated by many contemporary photographs and maps. The author’s fascination with the Isonzo campaign and fondness for the mountains, rivers and valleys forming the modern day border regions of Italy and Slovenia are apparent. I have no hesitation in recommending it.Western Front Association, David Parmee - October 2015
This is a welcome book, it is noteworthy for an excellent collection of photographs, many of which are from archives in Slovenia and never published before.The Long, Long Trail
The authors do a good job of explaining why the southern part of the front was so difficult – its plateaus were separated by ravines, lined with cliffs and generally made ideal defensive positions, as did the Isonzo valley. The large number of photographs are also very valuable in this respect, and give an impression of an incredibly difficult battlefield.History of War Website
The chapters on the twelve individual battles were of particular interest to me, having struggled to find any detailed accounts of these battles in the past. This allows the different battles to come into focus rather than as eleven virtually identical Italian attacks and one massive Austro-Hungarian and German success. I wish I had this book when I was writing those articles!
With its 130 or so excellent and previously unseen photographs gives a good description of the campaign based partly on the experience of individuals.The Military History Society
I must confess to knowing very little about the Italian Front and so this book stood out this month as being both well written and informative. It provides a fascinating insight into a conflict which was pivotal for Italy, Austria and the Balkans. From May 1915 to October 1917 the forces of Italy and the Austro-Hungarian empire were locked into a series of twelve battles along the river Isonzo, across a sixty mile front from the Alps to the Adriatic. Fought over the most appalling terrain with terrible casualties on both sides, the final battle at Caporetto was a devastating defeat for the Italians. Often neglected or skimmed over briefly in histories about the war, this book sets out in detail and with authority this side of the conflict, describing the Isonzo battles, the battlefields and the conditions in which the men lived and fought. The impact of the intervention of British, French and German troops along the front is also covered as well as the parts played by a number of famous and infamous individuals. Certainly this is one to add to the bookshelf for anyone who wants to add to their knowledge of the Italian Front and for all those generally interested in the Great War. Highly Recommended 10/10.Great War Magazine
This is a very good starting point to understand the Italian Front in general and the Isonzo Campaign in particular. The twelve battles of the Isonzo are described in detail and deliver a very clear understanding of the geography and conditions. It is supported with good images and maps and the three-dimensional maps are essential to really understand the geographical constraints. Recommended.Michael McCarthy
Michael McCarthy. Battlefield Guide