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I'm looking for a sci-fi book I read in Italy in the early '90s but looked much older (70s or 80s would be my guess) and had a non-Italian author name. I don't remember the cover, only that it was a large hardcover volume and that maybe it featured more than one story.

The plot of the part I remember involved a galactic war between Earth and an alien planet (which might or might not be called Laguna). The aliens managed to disable all of Earth's most modern ships, causing the protagonist to have to refit older starships to fight against them.

I distinctly remember one alien being captured and looking very similar to a human (maybe they were colonists?) and that before dying his last word was "dross" (left in English in the Italian text).

The book had color illustrations, one of which featured "the armored citadel of Tobruk being destroyed by alien forces", despite the city not even being mentioned in the matching passage.

Despite this wealth of information, my Google-fu failed me and I couldn't find any matches, nor any books I can rule out. I don't remember the ending, but I assume humans won in the end.

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Looks like that is "Terran Trade Authority" by Stewart Cowley.

There doesn't seem to be a wikipedia article for the series itself, but here is a reddit community and a fan site here.

Terran Trade Authority is a science-fiction setting written by Stewart Cowley presented in a collection of four large illustrated science fiction books published between 1978 and 1980; Spacecraft 2000 to 2100 AD, Spacewreck Ghostships and Derelicts of Space, Great Space Battles, and Starliners Commerical spacetravel in 2200 AD.

I I found an illustration of Tobruk in this thread "North African fortress city of Tobruk was one of the first targets knocked out by Lagunan strikes on Terra. Tony Roberts".

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    This is from Great Space Battles, the Laguna Wars forming the first half of the book. The book is free to view at the Internet Archive; the destruction of Tobruk is here.
    – DavidW
    Feb 15 at 14:30
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    THAT'S IT!!! Oh my goodness, yes! Great Space Battles it is and that's exactly the picture in question! I'm so happy to have found this out again after more than 25 year! @DavidW thanks a bunch for the link! Feb 15 at 15:39
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    The book also came up in the accepted answer to scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/234387/…
    – FuzzyBoots
    Feb 15 at 17:32
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    @FuzzyBoots now that you mention it, that story rings a bell too. I had completely forgotten about it, but somehow I seem to remember scraps of it. Crazy that it was part of the same anthology. Feb 16 at 8:24

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