Mussolini's Italy: Life under the Fascist Dictatorship, 1915-1945

TitleMussolini's Italy: Life under the Fascist Dictatorship, 1915-1945
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsBosworth, R. J. B.
Number of Pages692
PublisherPenguin Books
CityNew York

This volume is a portrait of Italy in the period in which citizens participated in one of the twentieth century's largest, most notorious, and ultimately most ruinous political experiments - Fascism - under their dictator, Benito Mussolini, and his henchmen. The Fascists were the first totalitarians, and they provided a model for many other twentieth-century dictatorships, Hitler's first among them. A regime based on a cult of violence and obedience, Fascism made immense demands on its subjects, killing many within Italy and its empire and ruining the lives of more. In this book, however, the author aims to show the gap that yawned between rhetoric and reality. Mussolini's Italy is lumped together with Hitler's Germany as a nightmarish totalitarian state that brutally reengineered an entire society. In fact, the author argues, Fascism, though monstrous enough, had a far shallower impact on Italy because Italy was still such a traditional, undeveloped country, organized around family, tribe, and region, and because Italy's leaders were less ruthlessly ideological than the Nazis. Italians found many ingenious ways of adapting, limiting, undermining, and ridiculing Mussolini's ambitions for them. The heart of this book is its engagement with the life of these ordinary Italians, struggling through terrible times.

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