Non-Fiction: History

The Last Secret of Mussolini

Author:  Vincenzo Di Michele

Published By: Il Cerchio

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

                I recently received an offer to read about a little known fact in history, one regarding Mussolini's escape from captivity on September 12, 1943 Operation Eiche was executed by the Germans with very little loss of life and that fact has always been attributed to the idea that the plan was brilliantly carried out by the German forces.  According to author Vincenzo Di Michele, this is not the case and he makes some very compelling arguments to back up his claim in The Last Secret of Mussolini.

                It all started shortly after Di Michele published his father's memoirs.  A carbineer in the Italian military during World War II, Di Michele's father told the tale of his time in the military, including his captivity in the hands of the Russian Army.  Di Michele published these memoirs as an homage to his father who had died shortly after completing them.  He never expected the book to do so well, but when it did, he discovered that he was now in trouble with the rest of his family.  But why?

                He had not told the story of the Nisi family of Fano Adriano, family members on Di Michele's father's mother's side.  Apparently, Alfonso Nisi was a guest of Alberto Faiola, head of the military security detail charged with guarding Mussolini at Campo Imperatore, the hotel in which he was held captive.  His tale and the tale of other associated members in the family directly refutes the claims of Otto Skorzeny and others who assert that Operation Eiche was a success due to the brilliant and swift actions of those leading the mission.

                In fact, Di Michele asserts that there were a number of contributing factors, not the least of which were the corrupt Badoglio government that found itself between a rock and a hard place (the Allied Army and their former allies, the Nazis) and the subpar security provided by Alberto Faiola. 

                He makes a rather compelling argument, and although a bit repetitive in his effort to get his point across, does so rather convincingly, using not only the tales told him by his family members, but actual factual evidence that seems to back up his claim.  The read is interesting and helped along by the numerous pictures inserted in the story, offering the reader a visual aid to the literary one. 

                I loved the tongue-in-cheek introduction as to how Di Michele came to write this book.  It's always interesting to learn how an author became inspired to write a book about a specific subject or a specific time in history. 

                In closing, any history buff, especially one interested in more information regarding World War II, will be interested in getting their hands on The Last Secret of Mussolini.  I know I learned quite a bit about an operation I never really knew existed - Operation Eiche was something we seemed to skip over in history class all those years ago.  This book is fast, well-written and informative read that makes a compelling argument against some of the believed-to-be-factual accounts of the rescue of Mussolini from Campo Imperatore.  My compliments to Vincenzo Di Michele for making this piece of history such an interesting read.


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