Mussolini

Mussolini

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by R. J. B. Bosworth
     
 

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Mussolini was one of the tyrant-killers of the Axis powers who scarred Europe during World War II, but we can't properly understand him or his regime by any facile equation with Hitler or Stalin. Like them, his life began modestly in the provinces; unlike them, he maintained a traditional male family life, including both a wife and mistresses, and sought in his way

Overview

Mussolini was one of the tyrant-killers of the Axis powers who scarred Europe during World War II, but we can't properly understand him or his regime by any facile equation with Hitler or Stalin. Like them, his life began modestly in the provinces; unlike them, he maintained a traditional male family life, including both a wife and mistresses, and sought in his way to be an intellectual. He was cruel (though not the cruelest); his racism existed, but never with the consistency and vigor that would have made him a good recruit for the SS. He sought an empire, but, for the most part, his was of the old-fashioned, costly, nineteenth-century variety, not of a racial or ideological imperialism. And Italy was not Germany or Russia: the particular patterns of that society greatly shaped his dictatorship.

R. J. B. Bosworth's Mussolini allows us to come closer than ever before to an appreciation of the life and actions of the man and of the political world and society within which he operated. With extraordinary skill and vividness, drawing on a huge range of sources, this biography paints a picture of brutality and failure, yet one tempered with an understanding of Mussolini as a human being shaped by and living within the context of this time.

Editorial Reviews

Booklist

Recently there has been a disturbing resurgence of interest in Mussolini and his political movement within Italy. Some of this can be attributed to the benign curiosity of a younger generation lacking any personal memory of the fascist era. However, revisionist TV documentaries and "scholarly" surveys of the period that combine nostalgia with willful glossing over of the outrages conducted by Il Duce are quite distressing. Bosworth, a professor of history at the University of Western Australia, has written extensively about Italian fascism, and fortunately this is not a revisionist tome. While Bosworth does not demonize Mussolini, he views him as an extreme example of an ego-driven personality incapable of divorcing his own self-gratifying impulses from the best interests of his people. However, the author also convincingly asserts that, as a political force, Mussolini was not an aberration; he and his movement grew out of and were linked to a supposedly "respectable" ultranational and intolerant strain in the Italian body politic, and that strain is still flourishing. A well-balanced examination.
Ian Kershaw

Impressively researched, splendidly written, sound in judgement, rich in insight and humane in spirit - in every respect a superb study of Mussolini and his Fascist regime.
North Carolina State University Alexander De Grand

Challenges most of the recent interpretations of the Italian leader ... [He] demolishes the image of the Duce strutting across the European stage in charge of his own destiny. Charisma, a lust for power, and boundless ambition carried Mussolini far from his origins in Dovia and Predappio but left him in the end a physical wreck at the mercy of forces he could not control and men with wills that were much stronger than his own. Italy, as they say, was collateral damage
Library Journal
Bosworth (history, Univ. of West Australia; Italian Dictatorship) is an authority on 20th-century Italy, and his exhaustive study of Benito Mussolini, first published in London, leaves no stone unturned in trying to explain the complexities of Il Duce and his times. Bosworth includes copious footnotes and an impressive bibliography to authenticate his compelling interpretation of Italy's Fascist dictator. This portrait of Mussolini reveals the author's appreciation of the complex ingredients of Il Duce's legacy a legacy that still influences Italian politics. Mussolini was a "man of image" whose virile charisma unified a fractious nation, but the ideological underpinnings of fascism never sank very deeply into Italian society. Although his 22-year dictatorial reign brought misery to millions, Mussolini never bought into the racist fanaticism of his Nazi brethren. As Bosworth infers, Mussolini's inherent zest for life kept him from becoming the grim exterminator Hitler wanted him to be. Bosworth's biography easily supersedes Denis Mack Smith's 1982 Mussolini as the definitive study of the Italian dictator and belongs in every public and academic library with a strong European history collection. Jim Doyle, Sara Hightower Regional Lib., Rome, GA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher

“The definitive study of the Italian dictator.” —Library Journal

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780340809884
Publisher:
Bloomsbury Academic
Publication date:
07/28/2003
Series:
Arnold Publication
Pages:
608
Product dimensions:
5.12(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.41(d)

Meet the Author

Richard Bosworth is one of the world's leading authorities on modern Italian history. He has been a Visiting Fellow at a number of institutions, including the Italian Academy at Columbia University, St. Johns and Clare Hall (Cambridge), Balliol and All Souls Colleges (Oxford), the Humanities Research Centre (Canberra) and the University of Trento in Italy. He currently shares his Professorship of History between the University of Western Australia and Reading University in the UK. Since the initial publication of his biography of Mussolini, he has written Mussolini's Italy: life under the dictatorship (Penguin, 2006), and a short polemic, Nationalism (Pearson, 2007). In 2009 he edited for Oxford University Press the Oxford handbook of fascism.

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