Modern Italy by John Foot

The author takes a thematic rather than a chronological approach to Italian history; I was skeptical at first, but he makes it work. The chief problem he attacks is why Italy never developed as a nation-state the way other European nations did. Italians have supposedly always lacked any sense of nationalism, but the author points out that Fascism is basically ultra-nationalism, and Italy was the first nation to have a Fascist movement and a Fascist regime. The family, the church, and the community rather than the nation however have always claimed the primary loyalty of Italians, and to this day they remain distrustful of the government and even the law enforcement services. There is a considerable outlining of sordid Italian politics in this book that helps one to understand this, but ultimately the book’s central question remains unanswered. This was not an exciting book, but it expanded my knowledge considerably.

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