Historian Jasper Ridley brings us this comprehensive biography of the man who invented fascism, Benito Mussolini, widely regarded as one of the arch villains of the 20th century. A complex and contradictory figure, Mussolini won the fascination of many statesmen and writers, and their wives. From his early years raised in the traditions of revolutionary Italian Socialism, to his violent execution by Communist partisans at the end of World War II, we watch Mussolini's power ambitions erode his political ideals, as he evolves from brilliant orator and journalist to empire-building dictator enforcing his authority by death squads. A man initially praised and admired by such Western luminaries as Winston Churchill, or underestimated as a posturing buffoon, Mussolini eventually showed his true colors as a racist and persecutor of the Jews. He sought equal stature with Hitler, but his alliance with him would prove disastrous. Ridley's account of this unforgettable 20th-century figure is even-handed and indispensable.More
"[A] well-researched, articulate, journalistic account." (School Library Journal)
"Packer shows himself once more to be the best chronicler, apart perhaps from John Burns of the New York Times, that the conflict has produced." (Publishers Weekly)
"It is a pleasure to find a work that strives for balance, fairness, and understanding in surveying the causes and course of the ongoing Iraqi war....This is a troubling but deeply moving examination." (Booklist)
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Interesting, but not captivating
I teach American college students in Italy occasionally and this has been a great resource in learning to understand Italy. This is a serious biography that provides a reasonably balanced view of Mussolini. He wasn't a clown or a monster, but a deeply troubled man who did very bad things to Italy. Ridley is convincing that his biggest character flaw was wanting to choose winners -- and his biggest mistake, of course, was betting that Hitler was a winner.
I love Nadia May as a reader . . . but the book is the point!