Mussolini

Mussolini

Mussolini

Mussolini

Synopsis

This book is an insight into Mussolini's personality and his rise to power. It is a study of a dynamic, insecure man who ruled via the media, but was corrupted by power and engaged in a serious of disastrous wars.

Excerpt

Benito Mussolini was head of the Italian Fascist government from October 1922 until his death at the hands of anti-Fascist partisans in April 1945. For over 20 years the story of his life can barely be distinguished from that of his regime, or of his country. This presents his biographer with a problem. If the writer is an academic historian by training, his study of Mussolini will be essentially a history of Italy; Mussolini himself is likely to appear relatively insignificant, a puppet of deep structures of power and values well beyond his control or understanding. If, however, the biographer is an amateur psychologist by inclination, as most biographers are, he will be tempted to explain even the most cataclysmic events – economic crises, world wars – in terms of Mussolini’s aberrant personality or unhappy early life, and to ignore much of the historical context. Clearly a good biography should avoid both these pitfalls, but no doubt I have succumbed to each. At any rate, I have tried to keep Mussolini in context, but also in the foreground – not too difficult, in his case.

However, ‘personality’ is a field where evidence is limited, prejudices are strong, and ambiguities are many. Like ‘power’, it tends to vanish under close analysis. Certainly Mussolini’s personality had many contradictions. It seems to me, as it has to many others, that he was essentially a superb ham actor of the old actor-manager school. Hperactive sexually, a man contemptuous of convention and of lesser mortals. He enjoyed playing the Stern Dictator, but could switch instantly to other roles – the Fiery Socialist, the Sensitive Intellectual, the Far-Sighted Statesman or even the Respectable Family Man. For many years he put on a great show, and his public loved it. Indeed, he . . .

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