The White War: Life and Death on the Italian Front 1915-1919 by Mark Thompson
This is a well written account of the First World War describing the Italian fronts. Probably not many people (in the UK) really appreciate the magnitude of the losses and the impact on Italian society. The futility of the enterprise, Cadorna launching 11 battles of the Isonzo.
The impact on Italian society was interesting. I knew about the Risorgimento, which, with Garibaldi and Mazzini seemed a positive thing. But I had not thought how it had led to Irredentism and extreme nationalism, moving onto Fascism.
The end and breakup of the Austro-Hungarian empire is interesting.
I first read this about three years ago, and decided to reread it prior to a trip the the Dolomites.
Abandoning Vietnam: How America Left and South Vietnam Lost Its War by James H. Willbanks
Another book on the Vietnam war. I decided to read this after reading Bergerud’s Dynamics of Defeat. The latter had a description of an American going to Hau Nghia Province in 1973 and being the first American to go there for months.
The book follows the Nixon policy of Vietnamization, the American withdrawal and the end of the war. It is interesting reading. The war had many aspects in favour of North Vietnam, such as geography and structural weakness in South Vietnam. However, Nixon’s increasing preoccupation with the Watergate scandal prevented the US from continuing to support the RVN. The only thing that might have helped them would have been the end of the Cold War, but that was still 15 years in the future.
One aspect that I had forgotten was just how divisive the war was in domestic US society. It is also interesting to see just how much opinion was strongly against the war, and how ‘left-wing’ the US was (as demonstrated by its opposition to the war). It is quite a contrast with the current time.