Armies of the Greek-Italian War 1940-41

Published: December 20th, 2017     
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Author: Phoebus Athanassiou
Reviewed by: 
Gino Dykstra, IPMS# 11198
Company: Osprey Publishing
ISBN #: 978-1-4728-1917-8
Other Publication Information: Paperback, 48 pages
Price: $18.00
Product / Stock #: Men-At-Arms 514

As an amateur historian, I'd always assumed that I had a pretty good handle on my understanding of World War II and its various actions, armies, equipment and consequences. However, reading this book has humbled me considerably. Until now I'd known virtually nothing about the dramatic skirmishes that occurred between the ambitious Italian forces and those of the much smaller but fiercely determined Greek forces in the mountains bordering Albania. When the fighting started, no one familiar with the international scene expected much from the Greeks, who were facing a much larger and well-tested force. In fact, the Greeks proved something of an ugly surprise to the supposedly invincible force of "eight million bayonets" that Mussolini had at his disposal, actually throwing them back into occupied Albania for a time.

To my view, this whole conflict has something of the same air as the Finns fighting off the Soviet assaults on their territory around the same historical period. The Greeks had virtually no armor and comparatively little artillery, for instance, and yet were surprisingly effective using what they had. The Greeks were quite successful, in fact, until the intervention of overwhelming German forces put an end to resistance.

As with most Osprey books, this one comes loaded with both information and eye candy in the form of rare pictures from both sides of the conflict along with lovely color renditions of the uniforms. There is quite a lot to absorb here, and certainly a lot of fodder for figure modelers in particular. As ICM has just released a lovely set of Greek Evzones in combat garb the book is timely as well.

One of the most interesting aspects of the book for me, however, was an analysis of the conflict's impact on the future of both countries. Italians had their faith in the invincibility of their armed forces shaken for the first time, with direct consequences on morale throughout the rest of the war and beyond. The Greeks to this day still see this as a proud symbol of their courage and resistance in the face of overwhelming odds, even as divisions created during the conflict led to a nasty civil war following the end of World War II. This is truly fascinating reading.

For anyone interested in the somewhat more obscure facets of this war, this book will make a useful addition to a well-stocked library. As for figure modelers, this book shows uniforms that should spark the imagination. I wish to thank both Osprey Publishing and IPMS/USA for a chance to review and learn from this most intriguing book.

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