The Historical Journal

Review Article



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The politics of Italian national identity. Edited by Gino Bedani and Bruce Haddock. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2000. Pp. vii+296. ISBN 0-7083-1622-0. £40.00.

Fascist modernities: Italy, 1922–1945. By Ruth Ben-Ghiat. Berkeley, University of California Press, 2001. Pp. x+317. ISBN 0-520-22363-2. £28.50.

Le spie del regime. By Mauro Canali. Bologna: Il Mulino, 2004. Pp. 863. ISBN 88-15-09801-1. €70.00.

I campi del Duce: l'internamento civile nell'Italia fascista (1940–1943). By Carlo Spartaco Capogreco. Turin: Einaudi, 2004. Pp. xi+319. ISBN 88-06-16781-2. €16.00.

The American South and the Italian Mezzogiorno: essays in comparative history. Edited by Enrico Dal Lago and Rick Halpern. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002. Pp. 256. ISBN 0-333-73971-X. £28.50.

Disastro! Disasters in Italy since 1860: culture, politics, society. Edited by John Dickie, John Foot, and Frank M. Snowden, Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002. Pp. ix+342. ISBN 0-312-23960-2. £32.50.

Remaking Italy in the twentieth century. By Roy Palmer Domenico. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2002. Pp. xiv+181. ISBN 0-8476-9637-5. £16.95.

Twentieth century Italy: a social history. By Jonathan Dunnage. Harlow: Pearson, 2002. Pp. xi+271. ISBN 0-582-29278-6. £16.99.

Milan since the miracle: city, culture and identity. By John Foot. Oxford: Berg, 2001. Pp. xiv+240. ISBN 1-85973-550-9. £14.99.

Squadristi: protagonisti e tecniche della violenza fascista, 1919–1922. By Mimmo Franzinelli. Milan: Mondadori, 2003. Pp. 464. ISBN 88-04-51233-4. €19.00.

For love and country: the Italian Resistance. By Patrick Gallo. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2003. Pp. viii+362. ISBN 0-7618-2496-0. $55.00.

The struggle for modernity: nationalism, futurism and Fascism. By Emilio Gentile. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2003. Pp. xix+203. ISBN 0-275-97692-0. $69.95.

Italy and its discontents. By Paul Ginsborg. Harmondsworth: Allen Lane, 2001. Pp. xv+521. ISBN 0-713-99537-8. £25.00.

Silvio Berlusconi: television, power and patrimony. By Paul Ginsborg. London: Verso, 2004. Pp. xvi+189. ISBN 1-84467-000-7. £16.00.

Fascists. By Michael Mann. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. Pp. x+429. ISBN 0-521-53855-6. £15.99.

Mussolini: the last 600 days of Il Duce. By Ray Moseley. Dallas: Taylor Trade publishing, 2004. Pp. vii+432. ISBN 1-58979-095-2. $34.95.

Lo stato fascista e la sua classe politica, 1922–1943. By Didier Musiedlak. Bologna: Il Mulino, 2001. Pp. 585. ISBN 88-15-09381-8. €32.00.

Italy's social revolution: charity and welfare from Liberalism to Fascism. By Maria Sophia Quine. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002. Pp. xv+429. ISBN 0-333-63261-3. £55.00.

La seduzione totalitaria: guerra, modernità, violenza politica (1914–1918). By Angelo Ventrone. Rome: Donzelli, 2003. Pp. xvi+288. ISBN 88-7989-840-X. €24.00.

With its winning of an American Academy Award, the film Life is beautiful (1997), brought its director and leading actor, Roberto Benigni, global fame. Benigni's zaniness and self-mockery seemed to embody everything that has convinced foreigners that Italians are, above all, brava gente (nice people). Sometimes, this conclusion can have a supercilious air – niceness can easily be reduced to levity or fecklessness. In those university courses that seek to comprehend the terrible tragedies of twentieth-century Europe, Italians seldom play a leading role. German, Russian, Polish, Yugoslav, and even British and French history are each riven with death and disaster or, alternatively, with heroism and achievement. In such austere company, brava gente can seem out of place.

(Published Online February 24 2006)