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Table of Contents

List of illustrations and maps Preface Introduction 1 The Furies and Benito Mussolini, 1944-1945 2 First of his class? The Mussolinis and the young Benito, 1883-1902 3 Emigrant and socialist, 1902-1910 4 The class struggle, 1910-1914 5 War and revolution, 1914-1919 6 The first months of Fascism, 1919-1920 7 The Fascist rise to power, 1920-1922 8 Government, 1922-1924 9 The imposition of dictatorship, 1924-1925 10 The Man of Providence, 1926-1929 11 Mussolini in his pomp, 1929-1932 12 The challenge of Adolf Hitler, 1932-1934 13 Empire in Ethiopia, 1935-1936 14 Crisis in Europe, 1936-1938 15 The approach of a Second World War, 1938-1939 16 Germany's ignoble second, 1939-1941 17 First fall and feeble resurrection, 1942-1943 18 The ghost of Benito Mussolini, 1945-2001 Notes Select bibliography Index

Promotional Information

The new edition of this award-winning biography contains fresh insights into one of history's most intriguing figures. By emphasizing the impact of political and social upheaval in shaping Mussolini's image, Bosworth skillfully juxtaposes his subject's renowned brutality against his inner compassion. Mussolini never fails to grip.

About the Author

Richard Bosworth is one of the world's leading authorities on modern Italian history. He has been a Visiting Fellow at a number of institutions, including the Italian Academy at Columbia University, St. Johns and Clare Hall (Cambridge), Balliol and All Souls Colleges (Oxford), the Humanities Research Centre (Canberra) and the University of Trento in Italy. He currently shares his Professorship of History between the University of Western Australia and Reading University in the UK. Since the initial publication of his biography of Mussolini, he has written Mussolini's Italy: Life Under the Dictatorship (2006), and a short polemic, Nationalism (2007). In 2009 he edited the Oxford Handbook of Fascism.


'The definitive study of the Italian dictator.' * Library Journal *
'It is lucid, elegant and a pleasure to read.' * The Daily Telegraph *
'It is the best biography in English to date.' * The Spectator *
'Highly readable' * BBC History Magazine *
'a fresh, intelligent and judicious re-examination of Mussolini and the Fascist period.' * New York Times Sunday Book Review *
Impressively researched, splendidly written, sound in judgement, rich in insight and humane in spirit - in every respect a superb study of Mussolini and his Fascist regime. * Ian Kershaw, author of Hitler: Hubris (1889-1936) *
*Winner of the Premier's Prize & the Non Fiction Prize in the Western Australian Premier's Book Awards 2002* This is a major literary accomplishment, as well as an extraordinary biography of a perplexing and paradoxical personality and an internationally significant contribution to an understanding of Mussolini's role in history. It is a massive work of substance, of historical research and analysis, and yet is readily accessible to the lay reader. The work may well enter the lore of works that become a yardstick by which other biographies are measured.
The first major biography of Benito Mussolini to appear since the end of the Cold War, Bosworth's new study avoids the parochialism, ethnic stereotyping, and ideological partisanship that have defined so much of the previous work on the leader of Italian Fascism. The resulting portrait of the Duce is a subtle and complex one that captures the multiple strengths, flaws, and contradictions of his personality and of a remarkable political career that spanned the most traumatic moments of the twentieth century. Bosworth's distinctive approach, which carefully assesses the interplay between Mussolini's intentions and the structural realities of Italian society in the shaping of events, not only provides insightful comparisons with his more notorious Axis partner, Adolf Hitler, but also offers a comprehensive view of the Fascist regime as a whole. His biography rests upon a sweeping command of a vast propagandistic and secondary literature as well as a wide array of archival sources drawn * Anthony Cardoza, Chair of History, Loyola Universi *
Bosworth's Mussolini challenges most of the recent interpretations of the Italian leader ... [He] demolishes the image of the Duce strutting across the European stage in charge of his own destiny. Charisma, a lust for power, and boundless ambition carried Mussolini far from his origins in Dovia and Predappio but left him in the end a physical wreck at the mercy of forces he could not control and men with wills that were much stronger than his own. Italy, as they say, was collateral damage. * Alexander De Grand, Professor of History, North Ca *
Without concealing or trying to palliate Mussolini's cynicism, brutality and moral cowardice, and admitting his ultimate failure, R.J.B. Bosworth offers a measured assessment, not without sympathy and even at times with admiration. He seems to me to have come closer to a true understanding of Mussolini than any previous English-language biographer. His book is excellent - persuasive and highly intelligent. It is lucid, elegant and a pleasure to read. * Allan Massie, The Daily Telegraph, March 16, 2002 *
Excellent as Bosworth's account of the social and international dimension is, he still has to pass the ultimate test of biography: a convincing account of the subject's personality. Here he fares especially well, for Mussolini is a hard psychological nut to crack. The author wins one over with his many witty asides and insights (and there are not many scholarly biographies where that happens) and there is ample evidence of a subtle and humorous mind at work. * Frank McLynn, The Independent on Sunday, 21 April *
This portrait of Mussolini reveals the author's appreciation of the complex ingredients of Il Duce's legacy. Bosworth's biography easily supersedes Denis Mack Smith's 1982 Mussolini as the definitive study of the Italian dictator. * Library Journal *
...a scholarly work based on original documents and an examination of the archives. * The Argus *
Bosworth's Mussolini allows us to come closer than ever before to an appreciation of the life and actions of the man and of the political world and society within which he operated. * Bollettino del CIRT *
[A] splendidly written, thoroughly researched, sensitive and judiciously sceptical new biography. * Time Literary Supplement *
...a well-balanced portrait of Il Duce that depicts him as both a ruthless social engineer of Fascism and an inconsistent, flawed leader... * C&RL News *

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