This excellent addition to the ""Crossroads of World History"" series describes Mussolini's forcible annexation of Ethiopia. DepresSion collapse had hit Italy so hard that the regime sought an external diversion; Dugan and LaFore stress the irony that Ethiopia had few resources by way of markets or material, though the Italians' turn-of-the-century failure to subjugate her still rankled national pride. A ramshackle empire ruled by Haile Selassie, a coolheaded despot, and his mysterious American advisor, Ethiopia could not withstand air power, poison gas, and the rest of the Italian mechanized force Mussolini managed to mobilize through roadless mountains against Selassie's sword-wielding defenders. The Western diplomacy of the period is caustically reconstructed. While posing in the League of Nations as a partisan of sanctions against Mussolini, Britain was leading France in a search for some compromise deal with him. When the evidence came out public clamor mounted, yet no effective sanctions ensued; and, of course, the Whitehall rationale of trying to split Italy from Germany was refuted as Mussolini edged closer to Hitler. The authors are good professional writers with about ten previous books apiece. Their sketches of British diplomats like poor Samuel Hoare and Italian commanders like Badoglio are memorable; the whole book hangs together in a highly absorbing way; and, as John Diggins' Mussolini and Fascism: The View From America (1972) did for the 20-year Il Duce period, it gives a pointed sense of how U.S. opinion grasped the war.