The White War by Mark Thompson

The White War

This is the story of the First World War in Italy, a war that gave birth to fascism. Mussolini fought in these trenches, as did most of his collaborators. But so did many of the greatest modernist writers in Italian and German - Ungaretti, Gadda, Musil.

Details The White War

TitleThe White War
Release DateSep 1st, 2008
PublisherFaber & Faber
GenreHistory, Nonfiction, Cultural, Italy, War, World War I, Military, Military History

Reviews The White War

  • Steve
    On the hardcover version of Mark Thompson’s The White War: Life and Death on the Italian Front, there’s a remarkable picture of tiny soldiers jumping out of their snow packed trenches. In front of them is the steep side of a mountain. Talk about the Mountains of Madness! But that’s pretty much the Italian front in World War 1. Overall Thompson does a fine job with this criminally overlooked part of the war, providing a good shapshot of Ital...
  • Paola
    The Guerra Bianca/White War is the term used to refer to the fighting on the Italian Alps during the First World War, on the Eastern Front, engaging mostly Italy and Austria.In this very legible account of the White War, the strategy and conduct of war, the political situation in climate in both Italy and the Austrian-Hungarian empire and above all the status of the Italian soldiers at the front (and their shockingly incompetent Chief of Staff) a...
  • Margaret Sankey
    Picture the meat grinder trenches of WWI Flanders. Now, tilt them up 40 degrees and add Alpine weather conditions. Not to mention the deeply ingrained culture of full frontal attack to prove national spirit, the decimation by lot of units for even casual breeches of discipline (Cadorna deserves some ugly ring of hell), the shortage of supplies so bad winter rations were 1500 calories a day, the horrific many battles of the Isonzo (and Caporetto, ...
  • Ozymandias
    This book was an interesting subject for me since I’ve read many books on the Western Front but never one on the Italian one. I had a basic idea of it from general histories of the war (plus a bit of Hemingway) but this was for the most part uncharted territory for me. As such I found the topic fascinating. Italy had most of the same horrors as the Western Front (a cause no one could explain, costly assaults that achieved nothing, numbing trenc...
  • Sotiris Karaiskos
    The Italian front is certainly the most neglected by the historians parts of the First World War. This void comes to cover the writer by presenting us all the time history that has evolved there. It starts with the data on which the decision to join the allied camp was based, with decades of territorial claims being the main cause. It then passes through all the great battles, with the thousands of victims, that ended up with no result, reaching ...
  • Honza Prchal
    The author, mark Thomspon did two things quite well. He wrote elegantly to the point of occasional lyricism. He also picked a subject that has been disgracefully ignored because of historians' prejudices, both Italian and otherwise. If that were the end of it, I'd give the book four or five stars, and I unhestitatingly recommend it to people interested in the subject because it is the only game in town.Mark Thompson knows his Italian literature e...
  • Bill
    This is a very engaging survey of an aspect of the first world war that has neglected by historians in the last half century. What emerges is a narrative describing an utterly unnecessary war waged with the grossest incompetence and knavery by Italy. When the war started, Italy was allied with Germany and Austria-Hungary, but a coterie of politicians and jingoists maneuvered a weak government into turning on Austria in an effort to take some terr...
  • Ryan Wulfsohn
    Excellent! A most interesting and well-written book, on a subject about which I knew very little , the campaign between Italy and the Austro-Hungarian empire in World War I. Thanks to Mr Thompson I am now much better informed on this aspect of the war, during which most of the extremely bloody and fairly pointless fighting took place in difficult mountainous terrain (the Dolomites and the Isonzo valley, the latter of which must rate with the Somm...
  • Stephen
    By 1915, what began as a conflict between Austria and Serbia had broadened into the Great War, whose largest contenders were not parties to the initial dispute. The war became truly global as countries the world over joined the Allies or the Central Powers, using the struggle to pursue their own ends; such was the case with Japan, which declared war on Germany not to avenge Belgium, but to snatch up the Kaiser’s Asian colonies. Closer to the he...
  • Dvd (VanitasVanitatumOmniaVanitas)
    Il bello (?) è che ci stupiamo ancora oggi quando ascoltiamo telegiornali, inchieste, talk show e rimaniamo sbalorditi, disgustati, inebetiti da quel che vediamo o sentiamo. Forse, a stupirci, è il nostro stupore: è come se un meccanismo inconscio ci ricordasse d'improvviso come siamo noi, cosa sono le nostre elite, come è nato e s'è sviluppato questo paese. Ciò che è sempre stato e sempre perdura.La grande guerra fu il più gigantesco e s...
  • Ben
    " The White War" by Mark Thompson is an interesting and compassionate history of Italy's involvement in World War I. The title " The White War refers to the operational area of the war, then the border between Italy and Austria-Hungary which traverses limestone and granite mountains. Those mountains gleamed as a bright white wall in the fierce summer sun, so bright that it hurt soldiers eyes , and in the frigid winter snows of 30 inch snowfalls, ...
  • Dragan
    Boys, big and small: this is a book for you. If you are into things like battles, dispositions of armies and batallions, conquering mountintops, political intrigue big and small, arrogant generals, arms and armour and occasional personal reminiscence of a slaughter, well, this one will make you happy.The book is well researched and rather good written. Its not splendid, and for some reason it does not spark like for instant "The guns of august" d...
  • Kevin
    A well-researched account of the sadly forgotten fighting between Italy and Austro-Hungary, which lost over a million men in failed bids to advanced through Alpine terrain during World War I, this book veers into asides for long chapters, some of which might be inserted into other chapters, or cut out completely. Thompson’s primary interest seems to be the thoughts and beliefs of Italy’s senior officers, which he ties to the eventual rise of ...
  • Bookwombat
    Mark Thompson's book is an excellent all round view of the Italian front during WWI. Indeed, the only thing that knocks the final star from my review is, as others have mentioned before me, that Thompson's coverage of the Astro-Hungarian side of the front is rather thin. What you get is thus very much in tune with the title, i.e. that's a predominately Italian perspective on this theatre of WWI. However, this does not mean that Thompson takes the...
  • William Kirkland
    Nothing like good history, thoroughly researched and well written, helps better to put in place pieces of the immense human puzzle that leads to now. Mark Thompson’s 2008, The White War: Life and Death on the Italian Front, 1915-1919, is one of the best in recent years, and not only because of the specifics about the fierce fighting on the Italian front during its most deadly war.The White War is more than a military history, though there is pl...
  • Andrew
    Fascinating read of a severely undercovered front of World War I - the Italian Front. Thompson examines the brutal conditions associated with fighting in the Dolomite Mountains as well as the ineptness and harsh conditions within the Italian Army. The Italians, for all intents and purposes, treated their own prisoners of war as little more than dirt after being freed or repatriated.In addition, he provides a great deal of cultural context on how ...
  • Charles van Buren
    Military and political history, March 24, 2016This review is from: The White War: Life and Death on the Italian Front 1915-1919 (Kindle Edition)This is a well written and interesting account of the Italian front in World War One, an obscure subject to most Americans. The author brings home the hardships of life and combat on this front which were appalling. Also appalling was the quality of the national leadership and command on both sides, wit...
  • Genia Lukin
    This is a horrible book. Not horrible because it's poorly written or badly researched. Rather, it is the sort of book that makes one want to gouge one's eyes out, or tear out one's hair in frustration.WW1 on the Italian front is almost the ultimate definition of insanity, on levels seldom seen previously, or even after. A command that was a joke, conditions more abominable than almost any others in all the immense war theatre.Especially interesti...
  • Aalap Chikhalikar
    Great read. I had gone to Salzburg on vacation and was fascinated seeing a few rooms dedicated to uniforms, medals and paintings of the Austria-Italy war. At the time I had always envisioned it as a forgotten part of WW I but this book helped vividly put that in greater perspective. And more than most history books I've read - it helped explain how great nations/empires stumble into war, the futility of the enterprise and the incredible human mis...
  • Brad
    One review called this work "a slog." That is as apt a description as any. There are few books in English on the Austro-Italian front, despite its major historical significance. The author here attempts to be exhaustive, but the style and organization of the book ends up being, well, mostly exhausting. A proper edit and closer focus could have made this work half as long and easily that much better. Alas, this book is one of so few it will be "th...
  • NancyHelen
    A fantastic, readable history of the Italian Front in WWI. Normally our knowledge of that war is limited to the Western and Eastern fronts and the trenches of Gallipoli, as these are the fronts most commonly documented. My knowledge of the Italian front was limited to reading Hemingway, so this book was a horrific revelation about the reality and bloodshed which occurred.The book is thoroughly researched and well written.
  • Betsy
    What a great book! It explains in great detail what the fighting was like on the Italian front. I have found only a few books about this facet of the Great War, and this is right there at the top.
  • Les
    The popular British depiction of the First World War is of British Tommies sheltering in the damp and muddy trenches of the Western Front and it is a powerful image. Less attention is given to British participation in other theatres of that war. One such is the Austro-Italian front where British troops were sent fairly late in the war to bolster a hard-pressed Italian Army. Mark Thompson's book references the British contribution but, rightly, it...
  • Philip C.
    This Book fills an important gap in any Great War Generalist's book shelf. I was elated to see an extended account of a much misunderstood theatre of the Great War. For most, the Italian Front has remained in the realm of Ernest Hemingway, and not the subject of sustained study. The author, I think, does a respectable job placing the Italian front in the broader political context of Italian history both pre war, which shaped Italy's Grand Strateg...
  • Bruce Bowman
    An adequate introduction to the Italian front in the First World War. This book's perspective is almost exclusively Italian. The Austrian perspective is presented as an afterthought, as is the naval war between the two countries. This is a good first book about this admittedly neglected aspect of WWI, but it mostly serves to highlight the need for a better one.
  • Tim
    A long but readable account of the Italian campaigns against Austria-Hungary in World War I. The author provides a good description the Italian politicians and generals, as well as views of the soldiers and the nation; the motivations of these characters are the chief focus of the story. It is not a perfect book but it is a very good account of a new subject for me.
  • Jim
    A good account of Italy's disastrous war, followed by a qualified victory, and then an ultimately dubious peace against its Austrian neighbor. Nicely ties in Italy's long-seething desire for national expansion with the emergence of Italian Fascism in the post-WWI/pre-WWII period.
  • Andrew
    History is interesting enough, but the Italian Front, an often overlooked theater of World War I, is rich in this regard. Mark Thompson provides a readable, enjoyable, and well-researched look that slices through some of the "common" understandings of the war and the aspects that wove their way into the national mythologies of Italy. The most gripping aspects of this account are the political machinations that unfolded to bring Italy into the war...
  • Richard Laznik
    Great book about this personally relevant part of the war. Not a well known front in the English speaking world. Also shows a few early hints of how Italy moved towards Fascism.
  • Joyce Lagow
    Wars are no different from other human enterprises; those who conduct it can run the gamut from brilliant (few, as in any enterprise) to the truly stupid and incompetent. The problem with any hierarchical organization is that the possibility of the incompetent being in charge of the lives of millions of other human beings is very real. History has shown us time and again that this is the case with armies, where the rise to command is as much base...