This book records the activities of the Italian Fascist regime from the years 1942 to 1944 as it can now be reconstructed from documents uncovered in the Italian and German archives and from the much less reliable testimony of surviving witnesses. The story of the war fought in the African arena -- Rommel's retreat, the Allied landings in French North Africa -- and of the personal rivalries in the Fascist government-makes for fascinating reading. So too the midnight conferences of the Axis' leaders. But Mr. narrative goes deeper. His careful and scholarly study shows in detail on what precarious foundations -- even illusions -- the Axis alliance rested. He examines the inefficiency of the Italo-German cooperation on diplomatic, military and political levels. The author has made good use of a considerable amount of new material, much of which was previously unpublished. And besides being a first rate researcher, Mr. Deakin is an astute historian and an elegant writer. Recommended for a limited audience.