Adrian Lyttelton is Professor of History at the Johns Hopkins University Center in Bologna and the author of The Seizure of Power: Fascism in Italy 1919–1929. (March 2006)

Italia Nostra

Among the postwar American ambassadors to the Italian Republic, Richard Gardner was certainly the most highly qualified. A professor of international law at Columbia, he was the author of a highly regarded study, Sterling-Dollar Diplomacy. He had already served as deputy assistant secretary of state in the Kennedy administration, and …

What Was Fascism?

Why is fascism such an elusive object of inquiry? As Robert Paxton notes at the outset of his study, the image of fascism has a deceptive clarity: Everyone is sure they know what fascism is. The most self-consciously visual of all political forms, fascism presents itself to us in vivid …

Radical and Rich

Thirty years after his death, the Italian publisher Giangiacomo Feltrinelli remains an enigma. In some ways, the sensitive, detailed biography written by his son makes the enigma appear still more perplexing. The Feltrinelli who is most securely embedded in the collective memory is the would-be revolutionary and terrorist, a figure …

The Crusade Against Cosa Nostra

A few years ago it was fashionable to deny the reality of the mafia as an organization. In Italy, it was said, Mafia (rather than “the mafia”) was just a set of common values and attitudes which made it possible for Sicilian criminals to communicate and cooperate with one another.

Italy: The Triumph of TV

Silvio Berlusconi has turned Italian politics inside out like a rubber glove. The old Italian politics of the First Republic, established in 1946, were based on the assumption that what was publicly visible, or audible, had no intrinsic significance. What mattered was what lay behind the speaker’s words. Hence the …

Mussolini’s Femme Fatale

In 1939, Alma Mahler recorded the impression made upon her by Margherita Sarfatti during their common exile in Paris: When I first met her she was the uncrowned queen of Italy. Now she is the crowned pauper of the exiles. As always, she is bold and spirited—but filled with much …

La Forza del Destino

The ironic title of Dan Vittorio Segre’s autobiographical sketch, Memoirs of a Fortunate Jew, offers a clue not only to his own history but to that of Italian Jews in general. Between 1870 and 1922, under the liberal regime, the good fortune of Italian Jews was unique in Europe. Nowhere …

Murder in Rome

On March 16, 1978, a group of terrorists ambushed the Christian Democrat leader Aldo Moro on the via Fani in Rome. Within three minutes they killed all five members of his escort and bundled Moro into one of three getaway cars. People living nearby tried to give the alarm, but …