Drawing on long-classified documents, Target: Italy (Faber & Faber, 2014) is the official history of the war waged by Britain's Special Operations Executive on Benito Mussolini's Fascist Italy. It is the first full account of SOE's clandestine efforts to strike at Italy and sever its alliance with Nazi Germany, and uncovers missions as remarkable as a plot to assassinate Mussolini and plans to arm the Mafia.
Target: Italy is also the first in-depth history of SOE's attempts at causing trouble inside an enemy country, as opposed to an enemy-occupied one. As such, it issues a sobering reminder of the terrible risks that foreign agencies can run when trying to encourage resistance to powerful authoritarian regimes.
This is a compelling tale of desperate daring and sacrifice, climaxing in one of the most extraordinary episodes of the Second World War: the delicate and dramatic dealings between the Allies and the Italians that led to Italy's surrender in 1943.
“A gripping history of Britain's undercover role in fomenting anti-Fascist activity in wartime Italy” (Observer)
“Inspiring . . . The great skill of this book is to demonstrate that war is both brutal and dizzyingly unpredictable . . . Bailey not only pays tribute to determined and brave people, but unravels a web of conflict in a beautiful land” (Sinclair McKay, Daily Telegraph)
“Roderick Bailey is a fluent writer, with a fine eye for personalities, and this book is, apart from its solid professional virtues, a very good read. The nightmarish and brutal world of underground work against Fascism in Italy is well covered . . . Drama is ever present . . . A great strength of the book is the use of oral interviews and Italian archival material, in contrast to earlier SOE histories which depend mostly on British documents” (James Pettifer, Times Literary Supplement)
“Roderick Bailey is a fine historian who has researched his subject and given his tale a strong narrative drive” (David Gilmour, Spectator)
“Readable and authoritative . . . The role of British intelligence agencies in the Second World War is now better understood” (Christopher Andrew, Literary Review)
"A precious testimony to our past . . . Well written, well structured and with an absolutely flawless series of sources" (Angelo Paratico, Corriere della Sera)