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The Duke of Wellington Medal for Military History: 2021 Winner Announced

News, 16 June 2021
The board members for the Duke of Wellington Medal for Military History have decided to award this year’s medal to John Gooch for his book ‘Mussolini’s War’

John Gooch’s Mussolini’s War (Penguin Books) details Italy’s war experience, from the invasion of Abyssinia via its military campaigns in Europe and elsewhere in Africa, until Mussolini’s arrest. The book places Italy at the centre of the war and allows the reader to delve into a detailed account of its armed force’s initial successes and dramatic fall.

Endowed by the Duke of Wellington, the medal aims to reward on an annual basis the best English language writing on military history, interpreted widely to include the role of the armed forces, the conduct of wars, and the impact of conflict on nations and societies, over any period up to the present day. Members of the board are His Grace the Duke of Wellington, Professor Michael Clarke, The Right Honourable Lord Sumption, Sir Hew Strachan and Professor Beatrice Heuser.

Sir Hew Strachan stated, that while the book made a huge contribution to its field, the award also highlighted a lifetime’s contribution to military history as a whole and, most recently, to that of Italy in particular. Michael Clarke, Chairman of the Judging Panel said: 'As ever, the short-list of books was extremely strong - this year exceptionally so - and demonstrated yet again the robust health of military history writing by some of our most eminent historians. As a Judging Panel, we don't only look for winners who contribute something new to historical knowledge. We also want to recognise good and accessible writing that opens the subject to as wide an audience as possible. John Gooch's book on Mussolini's War achieves both objectives magnificently.'

Details on the awards ceremony at which Professor Gooch will deliver a speech about his work will be announced in due course.

John  Gooch emerged as the winner out of a shortlist of six books published in 2020: The Napoleonic Wars: A Global History by Alexander Mikaberidze; Britain at Bay: The Epic Story of the Second World War: 1938 – 1941 by Alan Allport; The Crusader Strategy by Steve Tibble; MI9: A History of the Secret Service for Escape and Evasion in World War Two by Helen Fry and Blood, Metal and Dust by Ben Barry.

Nominations for the 2022 Medal competition are now encouraged and can be submitted to Juliana Suess via email (

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