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The Naval War in the Mediterranean 1940-1943
by Jack Greene & Alessandro Massignani

Reviewed by Sean Hert
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This is the 2011 edition of Jack Greene & Alessandro Massignani's 2008 The Naval War in the Mediterranean 1940-1943 (itself an update to a 2002 printing). The authors state this edition has some slight changes and updates to the previous one but note nothing major has changed in this book.

This is a scholarly look at this oft under-represented aspect of the war, but does not attempt to prove or disprove any preconceived notions about the conduct of these Mediterranean campaigns. Rather, as the authors themselves state, they attempt to tell the tale in a more story-like format, which appears to suit their writing styles.

This book follows a chronological timeline of the Mediterranean aspects of World War 2, focusing primarily on the Royal Navy and Italian viewpoints. This timeline is separated by battle or phases in the ebb and flow of the conflict. When possible, the authors include German source data as well. This is important, as the German influence on the Italian involvement from both a direct military stance, as well as a war material perspective, cannot be ignored.

Most aspects of the war in the Med are covered, from actions conducted by Italian Special Forces and fast motor torpedo boats, to the importance- and successes- of airpower. Special attention is given to one of the centerpieces of the conflict, the island of Malta. Both the Axis and Allies paid heavily in both blood and coin for this island, and the authors' conclusions about Malta differ from many other contemporary sources.

There are few photos in this book; one small section in the center of the book, but these serve mainly to accompany the text and to familiarize and identify certain elements of the written materials. Each chapter has maps when appropriate, along with illustrations showing the various fleet dispositions during specific combat actions.

While this book has little to offer the modeler, it is a great look at the Mediterranean campaigns of the war. As most modelers are also big history buffs, this book will serve to feed those interests. The book does have a few shortcomings; for example, the coverage of the landings for Operation Torch are given a smaller chapter than would seem appropriate. From reading throught the footnotes, this book relies a bit more on secondary sources than one would expect. These shortcomings are, however, minor, and this book is certainly worth adding to the library of anyone with an interest in World War Two naval history.

The Naval War in the Mediterranean 1940-1943 by Jack Greene & Alessandro Massignani is available direct from the publisher, Frontline Books (an imprint of Pen and Sword books), US and UK, and the Naval Institute Press (800-233-8764). List Price is $29.99; actual prices vary. Thanks to Pen and Sword for this review copy.