An Al2O3-based composite ceramic cutting tool material reinforced with (W, Ti)C micro-particles and Al2O3 micro-nano-particles was fabricated by using hot-pressing technique, the composite was denoted as AWT. The cutting performance, failure modes and mechanisms of the AWT micro-nano-composite ceramic tool were investigated via continuous turning of hardened AISI 1045 steel in comparison with those of an Al2O3/(W, Ti)C micro-composite ceramic tool SG-4 and a cemented carbide tool YS8. Worn and fractured surfaces of the cutting tools were characterized by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS). The results of continuous turning revealed that tool lifetime of the AWT ceramic tool was higher than that of the SG-4 and YS8 tools at all the tested cutting speeds. The longer tool life of the AWT composite ceramic tool was attributed to its synergistic strengthening/toughening mechanisms induced by the (W, Ti)C micro-particles and Al2O3 nano-particles.