A Box of Sand: The Italo-Ottoman War 1911-1912

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Tattered Flag, Dec 19, 2014 - History - 352 pages
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This is the first book in the English language to offer an analysis of a conflict that, in so many ways, raised the curtain on the Great War. In September 1911, Italy declared war on the once mighty, transcontinental Ottoman Empire _ but it was an Empire in decline. The ambitious Italy decided to add to her growing African empire by attacking Ottoman-ruled Tripolitania (Libya). The Italian action began the rapid fall of the Ottoman Empire, which would end with its disintegration at the end of the First World War. The day after Ottoman Turkey made peace with Italy in October 1912, the Balkan League attacked in the First Balkan War. The Italo-Ottoman War, as a prelude to the unprecedented hostilities that would follow, has so many firsts and pointers to the awful future: the first three-dimensional war with aerial reconnaissance and bombing, and the first use of armored vehicles, operating in concert with conventional ground and naval forces; war fever whipped up by the Italian press; military incompetence and stalemate; lessons in how not to fight a guerrilla war; mass death from disease and 10,000 more from reprisals and executions. Thirty thousand men would die in a struggle for what may described as little more than a scatolone di sabbia _ a box of sand. As acclaimed historian Charles Stephenson portrays in this ground-breaking study, if there is an exemplar of the futility of war, this is it. Apart from the loss of life and the huge cost to Italy (much higher than was originally envisaged), the main outcome was to halve the Libyan population through emigration, famine and casualties. The Italo-Ottoman War was a conflict overshadowed by the Great War _ but one which in many ways presaged the horrors to come. A Box of Sand will be of great interest to students of military history and those with an interest in the history of North Africa and the development of technology in war.

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User Review  - Evan_Edlund - LibraryThing

Not much to say, an overview of the Ottoman-Italian War of 1911-1912. Has a good grasp of the major players in both nations and the disposition of forces (a little shaky on the Ottoman side but they ... Read full review


The Sick Man
Making Italy and Making Italians
The Donkey and the Minaret
Adriatic Veto
The Italians Land
The Battle of Tripoli
The Jaws of the Sahara
The Italians Advance
The Southern Sporades the Dardanelles and the Limits of Navalism
The Iron Dice Roll
Retrospect The Italian Army and The Politicians 19111912
Ultimatum from Italy to Turkey regarding Tripoli 28 September 1911
The Curious Case of Osman Mahdi
The Italian Campaign and the Principles of War
Chapter Notes

Nations Have No Friends They Only Have interests
Sources and Bibliography

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About the author (2014)

Charles Stephenson is a naval and military historian and is the author of several books including The AdmiralÍs Secret Weapon: Lord Dundonald and the Origins of Chemical Warfare (2006) and GermanyÍs Asia-Pacific Empire: Colonialism and Naval Policy, 1885-1914 (2009) as well as numerous studies on fortifications and castles. He has been described as being ïamong the worldÍs leading maritime historiansÍ and has written articles for History Today magazine and Casemate, the magazine of The Fortress Study Group. He lives in North Wales.

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