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Cent ans après : la mémoire de la Première Guerre mondiale

Elli Lemonidou

Writing Italian Military History of the First World War during the Last Two Decades: Changing Historical Research at a Time of Fading Memory

Nicola Labanca


One hundred years after the outbreak of the First World War, the memory of the event is fading in Italy and knowledge about it remains poor among the general public. This reality, caused by a combination of factors which are mentioned in the text, has not precluded the development of a prolific historiographical production regarding the First World War and its particular impact in Italy. Τhe article provides an overview of some of the major historiographical axes on the subject, with a particular focus: 1) on the dominating presence of cultural history in the works of major Italian historians during the last decades and 2) on the particular trends of Italian military historiography on the First World War, which has particularly flourished (thanks to a series of local initiatives, mainly run by non-academic historians) in the North-East of the country in the last twenty years.

Cent ans après le déclenchement de la Première Guerre mondiale, le souvenir de l’événement s’évanouit en Italie et la connaissance à ce sujet demeure médiocre parmi le grand public. Cette réalité, causée par une combinaison de facteurs mentionnés dans le texte, n’a pas empêché le développement d’une production historiographique prolifique concernant la Première Guerre mondiale et son impact particulier en Italie. L’article offre un aperçu de certains des principaux axes historiographiques sur le sujet, avec un accent particulier : 1) sur la présence dominante de l’histoire culturelle dans les travaux des principaux historiens italiens au cours des dernières décennies et 2) sur les tendances particulières de l’historiographie militaire italienne sur la Première Guerre mondiale, qui a particulièrement fleuri (grâce à une série d’initiatives locales, principalement dirigées par des historiens non universitaires) au nord-est du pays au cours des vingt dernières années.

Texte intégral

New Impulse from the Centenary – Fading Memory

  • 1 For recent overviews, see Labanca 2014a and 2014b; Labanca, Überegger 2014.

1The First World War Centenary is reawakening, albeit feebly for now, the interest of Italians in the Great War1.

  • 2 See Centenario.
  • 3 See Beniculturali.

2The impulse would come neither from the centre nor from above, if the official Italian Celebrations Committee might be defined in such a manner. The now Struttura di missione per gli anniversari di interesse nazionale (Branch for the Anniversaries of National Interest)2, former Struttura di missione per la commemorazione del centesimo anniversario della Prima Guerra mondiale (Branch for the Commemoration of the hundredth Anniversary of the First World War), both at the Office of the President of the Council of Ministers, does not have much funding. Even if it has been established late, the fact is not new: members of its Supervisory Committee (those who have cultural expertise) are, for the most part, the same as the previous Struttura (later: Unità) tecnica di missione per le celebrazioni del 150° anniversario dell’Unità nazionale (Technical Branch [later: Unit] for the Celebrations of the 150th Anniversary of National Unity). Moreover, at the centre, that is to say at the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, there still exists, though with an even smaller budget, another Committee, the Comitato speciale tecnico per la tutela del patrimonio storico della Prima Guerra mondiale (Special Technical Committee for the safeguarding of the historical heritage of the First World War)3.

3Then the impulse is coming from below and from the periphery, that is to say from the regional and municipalities’ level, from universities, from local authorities and private travel agencies, from dozens of local organisations of fanatics, rarely scholarly ones but always keen to obtain public funding.

4It is of course still too early to assess how the Italian Centenary will come out in 2014-2018. What is certain, however, is that Italy and the Italians at large will be coming to this anniversary with an extremely limited knowledge of the First World War.

  • 4 Horne 2014, p. 624.
  • 5 Winter 2014a; see also the third chapter of this book, p. 23-45.

5What are the reasons of this fading, if not faded, memory? The first and general one, of course, is the passing of time. Another reason could be found in the peculiarities of Italian political history: John Horne blamed fascism and anti-fascism for this in a chapter of the third volume of the Cambridge History of the First World War, edited by Jay Winter4. Some more precision seems needed, especially with regard to the responsibilities of anti-fascism: it should not be forgotten that in its immediate aftermath, the memory of the conflict was highly controversial and was monopolized by Fascism. Italian war memorials were built early, some as a local expression of the liberal elites: but the most significant of them were built later on by the Fascist regime and still bear its trademark. Another reason could stay in the historians’ changing interests. Recalling Jay Winter’s metaphor, the attention of today’s fourth generation of Italian historians, as well as that of the third one, is still more focused on the Second rather than the First World War5. And it is not so much a matter of the “culture of defeat” or “of victory”, as it was not a matter of “culture of war” at the time. But probably the strongest element simply is that the First World War is receding more and more into the mists of time. With the notable exception of the North-Eastern Italy, where the war was fought and where, understandably, the memory has been kept alive by the local political elites during the two decades of Fascism and thereafter until 1968, Italians have increasingly vague notions of the war, considering it ever less relevant to their present lives.

  • 6 Labanca 2009.
  • 7 See Corriere.

6Italians know less and less about the war, and they have an extremely simplified memory of it. National collective memory talks about a war which was won –though at what cost is frequently forgotten. Caporetto is remembered more than Vittorio Veneto, General Cadorna more than General Diaz –and only a few know that General Badoglio played a role in the defeat as well as in the final victory. Sometime Italians do not wish to know more also because of a number of governmental initiatives. For the ninetieth Anniversary of the end of the Great War, under the centre-right government of Silvio Berlusconi, the Minister of Defence at the time, Ignazio La Russa, decided to send Army and Navy officers into schools to talk about the national past –not the best way, perhaps, to arouse youngsters’ fondness for history6. Even the last Italian veteran, Lazzaro (then Lazare) Ponticelli, died in France –a sign of Italy as a country of emigrants. For all these reasons, we can talk about a fading Italian memory of the Great War7.

  • 8 Horne 2014, loc. cit.
  • 9 Labanca 2002 and 2013.

7Despite the general level of knowledge remaining so low, the work of historians has progressed –Horne himself wrote about a “flourishing professional historiography”8. Indeed, at least in the last fifty years, the most consistently innovative area of studies on war has been in the fields of political, economic, social and cultural studies, rather than military studies. With regard to the latter, we could speak self-critically of a traditional weakness in Italian military history studies, both academic and amateur, and of a small number of military historians today. The gap between Italian and international military history studies, unfortunately, is growing9.

8We will try to outline an answer to the question about how –and to what extent– Italian historiography in general was able to recover the inevitable gap developed between the Italian people at large and the historians, while special attention will be given to the particular case of the Italian military-historical research and the direction in which the latter has been moving over the last twenty years.

An unchallenged classic

  • 10 Isnenghi, Rochat 2000.

9The best general work available on Italian participation to the war is still that by Mario Isnenghi and Giorgio Rochat, published in 200010.

10The authors gave a general political overview that might not be in accordance with the opinions of previous generations of historians. They portray the last of the great powers in search of diplomatic and military success, a political establishment (including Salandra and Sonnino) which de facto abdicates all responsibility to the military. Instead, they left the conduct of the war to the Chief of Staff and Supreme Commander General Luigi Cadorna and his immediate entourage, military top brass who did not ignore the difficulties of the war (despite their lack of attention in 1914 and 1915 to what had been already happening on the Western Front) but who believed that it would have been ultimately possible to overcome these difficulties by fully militarizing the country, deploying a rigidly offensive strategy and exercising a rigorous discipline among the troops. It was this Italy, Isnenghi and Rochat explain, that was defeated at Caporetto and that Orlando and Diaz attempted (happily, in the authors’ view) to reform.

11The image of the military institution is no less critical. An army instrumental to Salandra’s and Sonnino’s politics and unable to gain significant results in the field (with the exception of the persistent attrition of the Austro-Hungarian army); but an army that was slow to reequip and reinforce itself, paying a significant price in terms of loss of human lives. An institution which, as a whole, was based not only on its leverage of small group from below and on a strong nationalizing pressure from above, but also –when compared with the armies of other European powers– on a weaker and far less convincing propaganda campaign and on an extremely repressive discipline (military justice, firing squads, decimation). All of this was re-addressed though not abolished during the final year of the war.

  • 11 Rochat, Massobrio 1978; Rochat 1989.
  • 12 Gooch 1994; and now 2014.

12Anticipated in earlier studies by Giorgio Rochat and other scholars11, including John Gooch12, always highly critical of Italian “military efficiency”, this interpretation remains unchallenged. Local studies on individual units or armed forces, or official histories, did not result in an overall re-appraisal.

War and Nationalization more than Culture of War

13Within the parameters of this general work, since the beginning of the 2000s Italian historians have cultivated many fields of study.

  • 13 Forcella, Monticone 1968; Melograni 1969. See also: Isnenghi 1967 and 1970; Rochat 1967 and 1976.

14One of the most significant areas concerns a non-military function of the military. To what extent did the war contribute to give the Italians a collective national identity? Some authors maintained that the army triggered a greater sense of national identity. Actually the debate is still ongoing and new and specific research is needed. Yet it is worth pointing out, to the credit of Italian scholars, that the debate has not assumed the nature of a civil war, as has been the case with similar debates taking place at approximately the same time in France. In the “Hexagon”, the discussion did not concern the issue of national identity –maybe because the transition from “peasants into Frenchmen” was already taken for granted, as something that had already happened by the time the war broke out. It focused on a presumed “culture of war” which, in the view of its advocates, would have permeated the “poilus”, “brutalising” them and therefore fully integrating them in the atmosphere created by the government’s war propaganda. In spite of a few recent and belated attempts, this kind of debate has garnered little interest among Italian historians. Italian studies have long insisted, and still do insist –against the supporters of “consent” and of the “culture (in the singular) of war”– on the ruthless discipline and repression. This is also because in Italy, compared with France where the debate ragged during the 1990s and the 2000s, the issue of consent and dissent had already been defined in the 1960s, in studies by Enzo Forcella, Alberto Monticone, Piero Melograni and Giorgio Rochat13.

  • 14 Gibelli 1998; Procacci 1997.

15New and specific research is eagerly awaited on the topic. It is clear that –after the Risorgimento– Liberal Italy and more specifically the military high command during the Great War inoculated massive dose of nationalization into Italians called to arms. But how profound and persistent its effects have been is something that still needs to be demonstrated. More or less in the same year when Isnenghi and Rochat wrote their work, Antonio Gibelli published a general appraisal and Giovanna Procacci a substantial compendium14. Since then no new general works on Italy in the Great War have been published. The complexity of a country’s military involvement in a World War does not always fully emerge from these new studies. Some authors occasionally show dissatisfaction with one side or another of the synthesis by Rochat and Isnenghi: a dissatisfaction which takes different paths, some tending towards sharp criticism, some to the old apologia. Nonetheless, there is still no overall account of the Italian war.

  • 15 Thompson 2008.

16The only exception worth mentioning is Mark Thompson’s The White War: Life and Death on the Italian Front 1915-191915. This book, which addresses the general Anglo-Saxon reader, has many merits and some limitations. Its main merit is that it attempts an overall narrative. Trenchant in his account of the responsibilities of the Italian liberal establishment (especially those of the nationalist interventionists and of Sonnino), Thompson is biting –in the best British tradition– on Italy’s ambitions to greatness, while he remains moved by the dramatic life of the poor Italian soldiers in the trenches. Yet the book suffers from some simplification, partly due to its popularizing slant. Over-emphasizing an “Italian exception”, the Italian war is depicted as the greatest slaughter of the entire European conflict, Italian nationalism as the most obstinate, the armed forces as the most disorganized, the censorship as the most oppressive and so on. On the contrary, Italian studies have tried to look beyond this “exceptionality” and to put national events back into a European framework: with some specificity and peculiarities, obviously, though without hyperboles.

17Nor is Thompson able to restrain himself from some simplification, and even stereotyping of Italy and the Italians: a nation described as “noisy” and “murderous” but at the same time “comical”, where politicians resort to “dirty tricks” and the people are “resigned” or, on the opposite, always on the verge of a revolution, where bureaucracy reigns, and so on. Among these generalizations and clichés, the military high command is described as “blind” and “presumptuous”.

Military Historians, Cultural Historians

18As far as military history in a narrower sense is concerned, we can state that many works, monographs as well as collective, have been published in the last couple of decades. They reveal a persistent interest in the military dimension of the Italian participation to the Great War.

19However, it cannot be said that they represented one of the strongest points in the field of the Italian studies on the war. There has been no re-occurrence of what happened in the late 60s when ground-breaking monographs were published, in the late 70s when biographies of the key commanders and politicians in the war appeared, in the 80s when a new wave of studies on the war experience of the combatants started. In all these cases a re-appraisal of the war ensued as a result (together with some historiographical lessons on methodology, as was the case for instance with use of autobiographical sources made by the studies on the combatants’ war experience).

  • 16

20All we can say about most recent years is that studies became more specialized and that cultural history triumphed. There has been a clear change in sensibilities and in historiographical trends: factually-based history, even military facts, has receded into the background, while what Isnenghi coined as “second level facts”, in other words those concerning culture and collective mentalities, have moved into the foreground. The case of Fortunato Minniti makes all this clear. Once both an economic historian specialized in the Fascist rearmament and a political historian focused on civilians-military relations of Liberal Italy, in the last decades he went on writing a cultural history of the Piave river (not a traditional military history on how men and units cast adrift at Caporetto came back up to that river and fought) and of its myth. He is now preparing a cultural history of the first beginnings of Italian air warfare16.

  • 17 Audoin-Rouzeau, Becker 2002. In English: Understanding the Great War and in Italian: La violenza, (...)
  • 18 Edited in France by Stéphane Audoin-Rouzeau and Jean-Jacques Becker.
  • 19 Audoin-Rouzeau, Becker 2007.
  • 20 Isnenghi 1996-1997.
  • 21 Nora 1984-1992.
  • 22 Isnenghi 2008-2009.

21Cultural history also appears in Antonio Gibelli’s introduction to the Italian edition of 14-18: Retrouver la guerre by Stéphane Audoin-Rouzeau and Annette Becker17. Gibelli edited the Italian translation of the Encyclopédie de la Grande Guerre 1914-191818, whose original version he slightly modified by leaving out some essays and adding new ones19. A lot of cultural history also appears in the three-volume I luoghi della memoria edited by Mario Isnenghi20 (1996-1997, somehow like Les Lieux de mémoire published in France by Pierre Nora between 1984 and 199221) and the ensuing seven-volume Gli Italiani in guerra: conflitti, identità, memorie dal Risorgimento ai nostri giorni (Italians at War: Conflicts, Identity and Memories from the Risorgimento to the Present)22.

Parallel Histories

  • 23 Among the first studies: Fait et al. 1986.
  • 24 Procacci 1993.
  • 25 Gibelli 1991. See also Bianchi 2001.

22This does not mean that Italian studies of the military dimension of the Great War in the last twenty years have borne the exclusive trademark of cultural history. Historians for instance studied the letters sent home by soldiers as well as their diaries. Many of these diaries were written by soldiers coming from the region of Trento, who were more literate than the average Italian23. Other studies looked at military justice and prisoners24, as well as at “decimation” (execution by firing squads). But, obviously, soldiers at war were not just poor defeated people who kept diaries, wrote home, went mad, deserted or ended up as prisoners25. They were an economic and logistic cost on their country. And, above all, they fought. Hence studies of military budgets and of the military-industrial complex, and studies of combat effectiveness.

23Unfortunately, cultural history and social history, economic history and military history moved closer to each other but went on keeping parallel paths, without contaminating or influencing each other too much. Yet interpretations based on these different approaches do not always coincide. This means that above mentioned studies gave diverging interpretations on very relevant matters (and continue to do so) such as (to give just some example, heavily simplifying with the sole aim of comprehension): were Italian soldiers brutalized by the war, or not? Did local communities develop a homogenous, or divergent, collective memory of the war? Did soldiers’ letters and diaries mirror their own emotions, or rather the acceptance of government and army propaganda? Were all Italian combatants loyal citizens, or potential deserters? In the absence of open historiographical debates, parallel reformulations go on.

24Then the fact that there has been no open histographical debate or conflict in Italy, as it was the case in France or in other countries, could simply be because there is less debate in Italy.

Twenty Relevant Years: North-East Amateur Historians

25An issue that has been and still is at the core of military historical research of the First World War is about when, how and how much the armies learned to win the strange and new war of attrition that they had to fight after July 1914 on the Western and Italian fronts.

26This debate, one of the most relevant in international military-history historiography (primarily, but not exclusively, the Anglo-Saxon one, which pre-dated by many years the French debate on the “culture of war”) had gone for long decades almost unnoticed in Italy. But, over the last fifteen to twenty years, there has been a proliferation of more technical military studies on this, even if from different perspective and often leaning towards a sort of déjà vu. It comes as no surprise that this eventually happened in Italy too, and especially in local studies coming from the North-East, where expertise, competence, associations, societies, web sites and publishing houses specialized in First World War studies have multiplied, creating a flourishing market.

  • 26 See Guerrabianca.
  • 27 See Cimetrincee.
  • 28 Gaspari 2012b.
  • 29 See Leg.
  • 30 See Edizionirossato.
  • 31 See Itineraprogetti.

27It is significant that all of this has taken root and become well established in the last twenty years. A few names have to be mentioned. In 2013, the Società per la Guerra Bianca (Society for the White War), based in Milan, celebrated twenty years of activity, resulting in small publications, some research and conferences26. The Venice-based association Cime e trincee (Peaks and Trenches) invested heavily in a web site which is today an extremely rich resource27. The publishing house Paolo Gaspari in Udine has recently produced a comprehensive retrospective catalogue, 1992-201228, reflecting its own period of activity. Another publishing house, Libreria Editrice Goriziana –which started in Gorizia as an eponymous local antiquarian bookshop and is very well-known in the Friuli region–, enlarged its activities to such an extent that it felt able to put itself forward as the Italian translators of the British Osprey and to organize a history book festival (èStoria, founded in Gorizia in 2004), partly dedicated to war29. Other publishing houses, established or flourishing in the last twenty years, are the Edizioni Gino Rossato, from Novale di Valdagno, specialized in illustrated books30, and the Itinera Progetti, in Bassano del Grappa, publishing small volumes on battles and translations, too31. Thanks to them, over the last couple of decades many local or sector-based studies have been made available, which tous ensemble have offered some important contributions to historical knowledge. Regrettably, almost all of them rarely sought to put their local subject in the general framework of the war, without which their value remains limited.

  • 32 Labanca 2002 and 2013.

28The blooming military history bookshelf created by these local North-Eastern publishing houses owns its relevance also because, on the other side, Italians watched the decline of another stronger centre of studies. In Italy, official military history has long had a more important role than in other Western countries32. In terms of publications, the Historical Office of the Armed Forces had a relevant role in the more general field of military history. But, with the increasing financial constraints and along the change from conscription to all volunteer forces, the Chiefs of Staff decided to direct military funding to operative units rather than to cultural departments, thus reducing the space and role that, traditionally, official military history had had. Then it would be clearer the reasons why, considering this decline and this diminishing commitment on the realm of the military history by the Minister of Defence, local North-Eastern actors and publishers grew of importance.

Cadorna, Caporetto, Generals

29Among the books published in North-Eastern Italy, most of them local or “technical” and non-academic, we can find some excellent monographs, with revisionist ambitions. We could mention here only a few of them on Cadorna, on Caporetto and on Italian generals.

  • 33 Cappellano, Di Martino 2008.

30The first book is a serious study by Filippo Cappellano and Basilio Di Martino on Italian Supreme Commander Luigi Cadorna and his supposed (according to the authors) awareness of the developments in tactics and combat on the Western Front33. Although not quoting any non-Italian authors and books, and then seemingly unaware of the international historical debate on these topics, Cappellano and De Martino studied the written military instructions circulated by Italian High Headquarters and signed by Cadorna (later by Diaz) concerning tactical doctrine. The authors’ observations cannot drive away the critics accusing these generals of leaving the Italian army recognizing only very late the new way of fighting developed and experimented by units on the Western Front. However they try to defend Cadorna, emphasizing some instructions in which the Supreme Command seemed showing some level of awareness of those novelties.

  • 34 Monticone 1999.
  • 35 Gaspari 2011 and 2012a.

31Another book (or rather a series of books) on the Great War and another classic area of Italian military history research remains Caporetto. Even leaving aside the 1919 Reale Commissione d’inchiesta (Royal Commission of Inquiry), authors such as general Roberto Bencivenga and professor Piero Pieri, the doyen Italian military historian, already in the 30s-40s had clarified the military reasons for the defeat. In the mid-1950s, a then 24-year-old Alberto Monticone confirmed this view34. This means that, although the persistent image of a “military strike” –spread by the antisocialist propaganda in 1917 and 1918– lingered on in historical studies and above all in public opinion, the best military historians had already determined that the causes of the defeat were essentially military, and not political. Over the last twenty years (in an Italian new cultural and political atmosphere more and more intolerant of strikes, not to say of military ones), amateur historians and the above-mentioned local North-Eastern publishing houses went back to the topic of Caporetto, but in a revisionist mood. In their books and booklets they chose to put emphasis on the conduct of those units (and sometimes rather of those men under command of a few courageous officers) that attempted to stem the flood of Italian troops descending defeated, surrounded and bypassed by advancing Austro-German units, from the mountains toward the plane. A lot of these “battles”, or –better– clashes and attempts have been studied in-depth, reconstructed and highlighted. One of these authors, Paolo Gaspari35, sees in what happened in the days after Caporetto (obtained by the attackers, in his words, only thanks to “an exceptional stroke of luck”) neither a defeat nor a retreat but a series of “great battles”, “battles of captains”, – more precisely because, he opportunely admits, those who directed those desperate last Italian fightings before recovering behind the river Piave, were not in fact generals, but only captains or lieutenants. A foreign reader educated in international historiography would no doubt be amazed to discover that there is still in Italy someone who claims that there was no Caporetto.

  • 36 Alberti 2004; Cavaciocchi 2006 and Badoglio 2000.

32Other books, or series of books, have been about commanders. In Italy, biographies of the leading generals were written a long time ago, mostly in the immediate aftermath of the war, when a heated debate opposed the very highest military commanders. Since the beginning of the 2000s, however, readers witnessed the return of such biographies or biographical narratives. While the prevailing interest of historians during the 1970s and the 1980s went to the soldiers and to the wartime experience of the most humble combatants, in the last couple of decades this interest seemed to decrease and there has been a return to the great generals. In several cases the authors of these “new” biographies used the defensive memoranda those generals submitted to the Commission of Inquiry on Caporetto in 1918-191936. The outcome of the publication of these documents, then, has been twofold. On the one hand, it commendably allowed researchers to read documents which might otherwise have been difficult to be found in family archives (even if they were in fact available inside the Commission’s own archives). On the other hand, these biographies seemed to turn back the historiographical clock, reviving the controversies of the immediate post-war period and resurfacing a revival of the most old-fashioned biography. Once again, despite their being amongst the best works produced by non-academic Italian military history research on the Great War, one might wonder if the lessons and the debates of the international historiography have been fully acknowledged in Italy. Defending the high commands, denying defeats and rekindling old controversies exactly as they were in the immediate aftermath of the war sounds rather curious.


33In a time of fading or faded memory, and inevitably of re-writing of history, the recent writing of Italian military history seems at odds even before the Centenary started.

34All that said, a few Italian scholars write military history from an international-transnational perspective. Their competence is recognized at home and they are part of an international network of scholarly debates. But their books cannot always influence national public. Then, as far as knowledge and interests are concerned, the gap between public opinion and academics risks to enlarge year after year in Italy. Conversely, sometimes amateur historians catch or reveal the mood of the time better than the academic scholars.

35The Centenary could provide a good occasion to fill the gap, at least as far as possible. But some important debates should be closed, or at least better defined and researched –like the one on nationalization of the masses via the Great War. But it remains doubtful whether an approach of cultural history alone, or a regional (and not national) perspective, or a narrow-minded amateur military history –suitable for a recent Italian cultural atmosphere once again in search of (past and present) national pride–, could provide the historical basis to fill that gap.


[2014] All the references and the meaning of the article refers, as it had to do when it was prepared, to the Italian historiography up to 2014.

Alberti 2004 = Alberti Adriano, L’importanza dell’azione militare italiana. Le cause militari di Caporetto, preface by Ungari Andrea, Rome, Stato maggiore dell’esercito, Ufficio storico, 2004.

Audoin-Rouzeau, Becker 2002 = Audoin-Rouzeau Stéphane, Becker Annette, La violenza, la crociata, il lutto. La grande guerra e la storia del Novecento, preface by Gibelli Antonio, Turin, Einaudi, 2002.

Audoin-Rouzeau, Becker 2007 = Audoin-Rouzeau Stéphane, Becker Jean-Jacques (eds), La Prima Guerra mondiale, Italian edition ed. by Gibelli Antonio, Turin, Einaudi, 2007.

Badoglio 2000 = Badoglio Gian Luca (ed.), Il memoriale di Pietro Badoglio su Caporetto, Udine, Gaspari, 2000.

Bianchi 2001 = Bianchi Bruna, La Follia e la Fuga. Nevrosi di guerra, diserzione e disobbedienza nell’esercito italiano, 1915-1918, Rome, Bulzoni, 2001.

Cappellano, Di Martino 2008 = Cappellano Filippo, Di Martino Basilio, Un esercito forgiato nelle trincee. L’evoluzione tattica dell’esercito italiano nella Grande Guerra, Udine, Gaspari, 2008.

Cavaciocchi 2006 = Cavaciocchi Alberto, Un anno al comando del 4. corpo d’armata, ed. by Ungari Andrea, Udine, Gaspari, 2006.

Ceschin, Isnenghi 2008 = Ceschin Daniele, Isnenghi Mario (eds), Italiani in guerra. Conflitti, identità, memorie dal Risorgimento ai nostri giorni, vol. I, La Grande Guerra: dall’intervento alla “vittoria mutilata”, Turin, Utet, 2008.

Esercito e città 1989 = Esercito e città dall’Unità agli anni Trenta. Convegno nazionale di studi. Spoleto 11-14 maggio 1988, vol. I, Perugia, Deputazione di Storia patria per l’Umbria, 1989.

Fait et al. 1986 = Fait Gianluigi et al. (eds), Soldati. Diari della Grande Guerra, preface by Revelli Nuto, Mori, La Grafica, 1986.

Forcella, Monticone 1968 = Forcella Enzo, Monticone Alberto, Plotone di esecuzione. I processi della Prima Guerra mondiale, Bari, Laterza, 1968.

Gaspari 2011 = Gaspari Paolo, Le bugie di Caporetto. La fine della memoria dannata, preface by Rochat Giorgio, Udine, Gaspari, 2011.

Gaspari 2012a = Gaspari Paolo, La verità su Caporetto, Udine, Gaspari, 2012.

Gaspari 2012b = Gaspari Paolo, Catalogo generale 1992-2012, Udine, Gaspari, 2012.

Gibelli 1991 = Gibelli Antonio, L’officina della guerra. La Grande Guerra e le trasformazioni del mondo mentale, Turin, Bollati-Boringhieri, 1991.

Gibelli 1998 = Gibelli Antonio, La Grande Guerra degli italiani 1915-1918, Milan, Sansoni, 1998.

Gooch 1994 = Gooch John, Esercito, Stato, Società in Italia (1870-1915), Milan, Angeli, 1994.

Gooch 2014 = Gooch John, The Italian Army and the First World War, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2014.

Horne 2014 = Horne John, “The Great War at its Centenary”, in Winter Jay (ed.), The Cambridge History of the First World War, vol. III, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2014, p. 618-639.

Isnenghi 1967 = Isnenghi Mario, I vinti di Caporetto nella letteratura di guerra, Padova, Marsilio, 1967.

Isnenghi 1970 = Isnenghi Mario, Il mito della Grande Guerra da Marinetti a Malaparte, Bari, Laterza, 1970.

Isnenghi 1996-1997 = Isnenghi Mario (ed.), I luoghi della memoria, 3 vols. : vol. I, Simboli e miti dell’Italia unita (1996); vol. II, Personaggi e date dell’Italia unita (1997); vol. III, Strutture ed eventi dell’Italia unita (1997), Rome/Bari, Laterza.

Isnenghi 2008-2009 = Isnenghi Mario (ed.), Gli Italiani in guerra. Conflitti, identità, memorie dal Risorgimento ai nostri giorni, 7 vols., Turin, Utet, 2008-2009.

Isnenghi, Rochat 2000 = Isnenghi Mario, Rochat Giorgio, La Grande Guerra 1914-1918, Florence/Scandicci, La Nuova Italia, 2000.

Labanca 2002 = Labanca Nicola, “La maturità della storia dell’istituzione militare in Italia”, in Labanca Nicola, L’istituzione militare in Italia. Politica e società, Milan, Unicopli, 2002, p. 9-42.

Labanca 2009 = Labanca Nicola, “La politica militare della Repubblica. Cornici e quadri”, in Labanca Nicola (ed.), Le armi della Repubblica: dalla Liberazione ad oggi, vol. V of Isnenghi Mario (ed), Gli Italiani in guerra. Conflitti, identità, memorie dal Risorgimento ai nostri giorni, Turin, Utet, 2009, p. 66-156.

Labanca 2013 = Labanca Nicola, “Sviluppo e cambiamento nella storia militare dalla Seconda Guerra mondiale ad oggi”, Revue internationale d’histoire militaire, 91 (2013), p. 11-81.

Labanca 2014a = Labanca Nicola, “The Italian front”, in Winter Jay (ed.), The Cambridge History of the First World War, vol. I, Global War, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2014.

Labanca 2014b = Labanca Nicola (ed.), Dizionario storico della Prima Guerra mondiale, Rome/Bari, Laterza, 2014.

Labanca, Überegger 2014 = Labanca Nicola, Überegger Oswald (eds), La guerra italo-austriaca 1915-18, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2014.

Melograni 1969 = Melograni Piero, Storia politica della Grande Guerra 1915-1918, Bari, Laterza, 1969.

Minniti 2000 = Minniti Fortunato, Il Piave, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2000.

Monticone 1999 = Monticone Alberto, La battaglia di Caporetto, Udine, Gaspari, 1999 (first edition: Rome, Studium, 1955).

Nora 1984-1992 = Nora Pierre (dir.), Les Lieux de mémoire, 3 tomes : t. 1, La République (1984), t. 2, La Nation (3 vol., 1986), t. 3, Les France (3 vol., 1992), Paris, Gallimard, Coll. « Bibliothèque illustrée des histoires », 1984-1992.

Procacci 1993 = Procacci Giovanna, Soldati e prigionieri italiani nella Grande Guerra, Rome, Editori Riuniti, 1993.

Procacci 1997 = Procacci Giovanna, “La Prima Guerra mondiale”, in Sabbatucci Giuseppe, Vidotto Vittorio (eds), Storia d’Italia, vol. IV, Guerre e Fascismo, Rome/Bari, Laterza, 1997.

Rochat 1967 = Rochat Giorgio, L’esercito italiano da Vittorio Veneto a Mussolini (1919-1925), Bari, Laterza, 1967.

Rochat 1976 = Rochat Giorgio, L’Italia nella Prima Guerra mondiale. Problemi di interpretazione e prospettive di ricerca, Milan, Feltrinelli, 1976.

Rochat 1989 = Rochat Giorgio, “Strutture dell’Esercito dell’Italia liberale: i reggimenti di fanteria e bersaglieri”, in Esercito e città dall’Unità agli anni Trenta. Convegno nazionale di studi. Spoleto 11-14 maggio 1988, vol. I, Perugia, Deputazione di Storia patria per l’Umbria, 1989.

Rochat, Massobrio 1978 = Rochat Giorgio, Massobrio Giulio, Breve storia dell’esercito italiano dal 1861 al 1943, Turin, Einaudi, 1978.

Thompson 2008 = Thompson Mark, The White War. Life and Death on the Italian Front 1915-1919, London, Faber and Faber, 2008.

Winter 2014a = Winter Jay (ed.), The Cambridge History of the First World War, vol. I, Global War, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2014.

Winter 2014b = Winter Jay (ed.), The Cambridge History of the First World War, vol. III, Civil Society, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2014.


* * *


Beniculturali = “Comitato speciale per la tutela del patrimonio storico della Prima Guerra Mondiale”, [online]. URL:

Centenario = “La struttura di missione”, [online]. URL:

Corriere = “È morto Delfino Borroni, l’ultimo reduce italiano della Grande Guerra” [online]. URL:

Cimetrincee [online]. URL:

Edizionirossato [online]. URL:

Guerrabianca [online]. URL:

Itineraprogetti [online]. URL:

Leg [online]. URL:


1 For recent overviews, see Labanca 2014a and 2014b; Labanca, Überegger 2014.

2 See Centenario.

3 See Beniculturali.

4 Horne 2014, p. 624.

5 Winter 2014a; see also the third chapter of this book, p. 23-45.

6 Labanca 2009.

7 See Corriere.

8 Horne 2014, loc. cit.

9 Labanca 2002 and 2013.

10 Isnenghi, Rochat 2000.

11 Rochat, Massobrio 1978; Rochat 1989.

12 Gooch 1994; and now 2014.

13 Forcella, Monticone 1968; Melograni 1969. See also: Isnenghi 1967 and 1970; Rochat 1967 and 1976.

14 Gibelli 1998; Procacci 1997.

15 Thompson 2008.


Minniti 2000.

17 Audoin-Rouzeau, Becker 2002. In English: Understanding the Great War and in Italian: La violenza, la crociata, il lutto. La grande guerra e la storia del Novecento.

18 Edited in France by Stéphane Audoin-Rouzeau and Jean-Jacques Becker.

19 Audoin-Rouzeau, Becker 2007.

20 Isnenghi 1996-1997.

21 Nora 1984-1992.

22 Isnenghi 2008-2009.

23 Among the first studies: Fait et al. 1986.

24 Procacci 1993.

25 Gibelli 1991. See also Bianchi 2001.

26 See Guerrabianca.

27 See Cimetrincee.

28 Gaspari 2012b.

29 See Leg.

30 See Edizionirossato.

31 See Itineraprogetti.

32 Labanca 2002 and 2013.

33 Cappellano, Di Martino 2008.

34 Monticone 1999.

35 Gaspari 2011 and 2012a.

36 Alberti 2004; Cavaciocchi 2006 and Badoglio 2000.

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