Italy: A Modern History

Italy: A Modern History

Italy: A Modern History

Italy: A Modern History

Excerpt

The best-known histories of modern Italy have chosen as their principal theme the making of a new Italian nation in the nineteenth century, but today a quite different emphasis is possible. The risorgimento can now be taken not as a central theme but as a starting point, both to trace the consequences of this national movement down to the present, and also to see how the course of later events may throw new light on earlier Italian nationalism. Two world wars have recently been fought, both of them severely testing the fabric of Italian society. An empire was also won and was subsequently lost again, as a patriotic movement gradually became imperialistic and then fascist. The careers of Crispi and Mussolini, who were the two chief architects of this particular change, prompt the thought that some flaws must have been embedded in nineteenth-century liberal patriotism and its achievements. For Italy had in 1861 been of all countries the most admired by liberal politicians and historians, and yet it proved to be the first to give way after 1919 before the new dictatorial imperialism. A history of modern Italy must try to account for this fact, as it must further attempt to explain why the fascist dictatorship lasted so long, and why so severe a military defeat was encountered in 1940-43. It must also show how that defeat could be followed by a vigorous national revival. Finally, it must trace the gradual submergence of the liberals and anticlericals who had triumphed in the risorgimento, and their decisive supersession by the Catholics and communists who swept the board in the elections of 1948.

March 1861 has been taken as the starting point of this book, the month in which Count Cavour declared that a kingdom of Italy was born. Institutions and ideas had by that date already begun to develop along lines quite unimagined by the early prophets of Italian nationalism and had acquired a life of their own which down to the present day forms a compact subject of study. Until 1861 there had . . .

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.