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This is one of the many books either about Italy or in Italian I've read over the last year, and it was lots of fun. I was hesitant at first because of some of the bad reviews I'd seen on amazon. I had the impression that perhaps Hooper was of the "disdainful Englishman abroad" variety, the ones who sniff, "The problem with Italy is the Italians," which is a viewpoint I've heard too many times. In the end I felt he was fair. After all, this is his view of the Italians, not the last word on the subject.
It's dangerous to generalize, but it's also human nature to do so. That said, I admit Italians both fascinate and bewilder me and I adore them for it. I've loved all the Italians I've known. I love Italian opera, music, art, fashion, and so many other things they've contributed to the world. Crooked politicians and criminal enterprises aside --- and heaven knows these things aren't limited to Italy --- it is an incredibly rich and beautiful country.
But if you don't love the Italians, you might as well leave them be because they're not going to change to suit your point of view, which is more or less the subtext of Hooper's writing. I think this particularly applies to the Roman Church. As Hooper says, Italy made the Catholic Church, not the other way around. That speaks volumes, and as a Catholic, it makes a great deal of sense to me.
Gareth Armstrong is one of my favorite narrators, and he gave his usual top class performance here.
Give it a listen if you have any interest in Italy. It made me want to grab my passport and head back to Lombardia at once....
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
I'm not an Italophile, but am interested in learning about other places, and the audio sample seemed pretty good, so I decided to get this one.
Basically, it's an overview of aspects of Italian culture that have struck the expat author as ... notable: rampant cheating on exams, string resistance to eating foreign foods, wearing sunglasses on cloudy days, the mixed feelings on religion, and so forth; his section on (organized) crime near the end got a bit deep in the weeds for me, but otherwise I found the book interesting.
Honestly, 3.5 stars for content; however, the audio narration was enthusiastic, without being over-the-top, so it gets rounded up for that.
6 of 7 people found this review helpful
I downloaded this book for a trip to Sicily. I had expected it to be one of those funny irreverent takes someone's personal experience of living in Italy. In fact it was an incredibly comprehensive, fact packed study of all aspects of the Italian psyche. The style is nevertheless extremely engaging and never lacks pace. Given the background of the author as a journalist there is a strong focus on politics, but for me that added to the authenticity of the insights. Highly recommended.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Great listen. Learnt a lot about Italy's history, culture and much much more. Highly recommend if you want to get to know more about this fascinating country.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful