The Force of Destiny is both a wonderful and a depressing book for who (like me) loves Italy. It is very well written and once you start you cannot stop reading. The book tells the story of Italy from 1796 when Napoleon easily overran the divided country, starting with Piemont, until the present days. One of the main topics is the inglorious unification of the country, where Garibaldi is about the only honest and honourable hero [see also Il Cimetero di Praga by Umberto Eco for some dirty details]. The scenes in the Italian Parliament were as mean, corrupt and disgusting as they are now from day one. Berlusconi has many earlier examples (though he is probably ahead of all of them with the instruments of power at his disposal) and Christopher Duggan makes it clear that there is nothing new in Italian politics of today.
An extract in the book from a famous article by the Neapolitan historian Pasquale Villari, published immediately after the disastrous war of 1866 could be written today:
"In the heart of the nation there lies an enemy more powerful than Austria: our colossal ignorance, the illiterate masses, the dumb bureaucrats, the stupid professors, the infantile politicians, the insufferable diplomats, he incompetent generals, the unskilled worker, the authoritarian farmer, and the rhetoric that eats our bones."
You may wonder how this wonderful country is surviving for more than 150 years with governments, politicians and bureaucrats like this. Few other countries would be capable to accomplish this incredible fact.