by Christian Goeschel
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2018. Pp. x, 290+.
Illus., notes, biblio., index. $30.00. ISBN: 0300178832
Parsing the “Brutal Friendship”
In this new look at the relationship between Mussolini and Hitler, Goeschel (University of Manchester) delves deeply into the ups and downs of the personal interaction between the two, in what F. W. Deakin called “The Brutal Friendship”.
Goeschel has four main themes. He considers the political fallout of the “emotive politics” of their relationship, the superficiality of their supposed common ideology, the “significance of personal factors” in making and sustaining “transnational associations”, and the propaganda efforts that went into creating the image of an unbreakable Hitler-Mussolini relationship.
Goeschel throws fresh light on the convoluted relationship of the two dictators, at times trying to outdo each other, at times seriously trying to work together, and at other times wary of each other. He also goes far in showing that Mussolini was often much more astute than is usually depicted, though he oddly misses Mussolini’s well-reasoned, and ultimately correct, caution about joining Hitler’s intervention in the Iraqi nationalist rising of 1941.
In the end, Goeschel, demonstrates that there was a real friendship between the two, albeit fraught with jealousy, misunderstanding, and personal ambitions, which helped shape the war. Mussolini and Hitler is a valuable read for anyone interested in the leadership of the Axis powers.
Note: Mussolini and Hitler is also available in several e-editions