This comprehensive book details the impact of the ancient, southern European country of Italy.
This is the third volume in a series that started with 2014’s All the Countries We’ve Ever Invaded, about Laycock’s homeland of Great Britain, and was followed by Kelly and Laycock’s America Invades (2015). Now the duo tackles a country to which both feel connected, one whose history goes back millennia to ancient Rome. As Kelly explains in his introduction: “Italians are literally and figuratively an ‘outgoing’ people….From Marco Polo to Christopher Columbus, they have been some of the world’s greatest travelers, explorers, and adventurers.” As a result, there are few countries which Italy has not, at least theoretically, touched. For example, it even has a tenuous connection to the distant Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean, where its military has taken part in joint exercises in recent years. Italy has an even greater impact on countries nearer to it, such as its neighbor, Austria; they “share a border, and they also share a lot of violent history with many invasions back and forth,” the authors note. In this volume, Kelly and Laycock have done meticulous research, and it all shows on the page. With names such as Columbus, Polo, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, and Napoleon Bonaparte appearing over and over again, the authors help readers to grasp the big global picture at any given point in time. They also single out Italian-Americans, especially in the military, and their roles in history. An added bonus is an appendix featuring a colorful journal entry by Kelly’s great-grandfather Thomas Tileston Wells, written during an ill-timed vacation to Europe at the outbreak of World War I. Overall, Kelly and Laycock have created a dense, readable compilation about a nation whose impact on global history is often underappreciated.
A thorough, enjoyable collection which ably demonstrates Italy’s long reach.