The "War of Libya" is generally taken to refer to the 1911-12 campaign engaged by Giolittian Italy against Turkey in an attempt to conquer a "fourth shore". But by the end of 1912 Italians controlled only a few cities along the Libyan coast: the war was far from over. Italy strived for over 20 years, until 1931, to establish complete control over Libya. Warfare became increasingly irregular, featuring guerrilla and counter-guerrilla tactics; and although it began as a war against Turkish armed forces, it changed into an anti-colonial resistance struggle and ended up as a fight against civilians. Fascist Italy organized a group of concentration camps, which would ultimately detain half of Eastern Libya's population. Labanca describes this dirty war that Italy preferred to forget. Knowledge of this war helps the reader to understand contemporary Libya, from its independence to the rule of Gaddafi, who partly founded his policies on the need to hold Italy to account.
Nicola Labanca teaches Contemporary History and History of European Expansion at the University of Siena.