Truth and fake news about Caporetto: Explaining the disaster in Italy and in Britain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Downloads (Pure)


A lightning victory by combined Austro-German forces in October 1917 threatened to knock Italy out of the war. This was the Twelfth Battle of the Isonzo, often called ‘Caporetto’. General Luigi Cadorna, the chief of general staff, branded army units as cowards and blamed them for the disaster. His accusation met with dismay at home and sympathy mixed with disdain abroad. Investigation quickly gave the lie to Cadorna, yet the stain has persisted. In Britain, the prime minister and the head of the armed forces disagreed about the causes of Caporetto, as did also the historian G.M. Trevelyan and the future politician Hugh Dalton. Analysis of the dissemination, reception and legacy of Cadorna’s message in Italy and Britain reveals something about military-political relations, class attitudes, media systems, and national prejudice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-274
Number of pages30
Issue number360
Early online date18 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 21 Mar 2019


  • Italy
  • Britain
  • Luigi Cadorna
  • David Lloyd George
  • Douglas Haig
  • William Robertson
  • First World War
  • defeat
  • fake news
  • journalism
  • Daily Mail
  • history
  • prejudice
  • G.M. Trevelyan
  • Hugh Dalton
  • Mario Isnenghi
  • Caporetto

Cite this