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Brooke Allen[Gilmour] writes in the spirit of earlier historians, like the 16th-century Florentine Francesco Guicciardini and the 19th-century Milanese intellectual Carlo Cattaneo, who believed that the Italian cities formerly thrived because of mutual competition. "United Italy," he concludes, was "predestined to be a disappointment." Is it time, then, to give up on a failed union and return to the idea of a loose confederation? If so, Gilmour's detailed, learned and politically challenging book provides a picture of what such a community of nation-states might look like.
—The New York Times Book Review