This book documents the experiences of the Italian armed Fascist militia, the Camicie Nere (Blackshirts), from the Italian-Ethiopian war of 1935-36, through the Spanish Civil War to the end of World War II. It explores their origins, development, recruitment, training, conditions of service, uniforms and equipment, battle experience, political and ideological motivation. The Blackshirt legions were raised under army control from 1928, and were employed in 1933 in Libya in counterinsurgency operations against the Senussi tribes; from 1935 in Italy's war against Ethiopia; and, during the Spanish Civil War. Following the outbreak of World War II, the Blackshirts fought in North Africa, Greece, Croatia, on the Eastern Front and finally in Italy itself following the Allied invasion.
Pier Paolo Battistelli earned his PhD in military history at the University of Padua. A scholar of German and Italian politics and strategy throughout World War II, he is active in Italy and abroad writing titles and essays on military history subjects. A contributor to the Italian Army Historical Office, he is currently revising his PhD thesis for publication: The War of the Axis: German and Italian Military Partnership in World War Two, 1939-1943. Piero Crociani acts as a consultant for the Italian Army Historical Branch and is the author of several articles, essays and books on Italian military history. Amongst his published words are The Albanians in the Italian Armed Forces (Rome, 2001); The Neapolitan Army 1806-15 (Milan, 1987) and, together with Virgilio Ilari and Giancarlo Boeri, A Military History of Murat's Kingdom (1806-15) (Milan, 2007). The author lives in Italy.