Lacking a nationalistic or idealistic connection to the Nazi's war in Russia and poorly equipped, the Italian contribution to the campaign became fodder at Stalingrad. A total of 227,000 Italian troops amassed along the Don. 60,000 of which were the fabled Alpini or Italian mountain troops. The irony that these fighters were used on the flatlands is not lost on the author or history.
The men were committed to each other but could not overcome conditions, antiquated equipment (rifles from 1891 and M-13 "sardine" tanks), logistical incompetence, lack of coordination with other forces, and subjugated leadership. That being said, they fought well both offensively and defensively motivated simply to survive and return to their country. They displayed a rarely seen humanity on the Eastern Front by working with and supporting the local population. While some were Fascists (not something the author emphasizes), they were not as militant on the subject of racial superiority and instead connected with the peasant population. In the end 85,000 of these men did not return. And those who did came back in such a state that the authorities attempted to shield them from their countrymen to hide the truth.
The author has an emotional connection to the subject matter as the catalyst for the book are her uncle's memoirs. Unfortunately, as a history it did not entirely work for me. The historical backdrop is missing, context is slim, and descriptions of the actual conflicts lacking detail and military insight. It was time to have this little known aspect of Stalingrad profiled and I hope to see other contributions that build upon this work.