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The Pike: Gabriele d'Annunzio, Poet, Seducer and Preacher of War Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 62 customer reviews

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Length: 694 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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Review

‘Hard to beat … a biographical tour de force … a rich, voluptuous treat … a triumph, the biography of the year’ Robert McCrum, Observer, ‘Books of the Year’

‘[The Pike] dramatically extends biography’s formal range to encompass a daunting theme’ TLS, ‘Books of the Year’

‘This is a magnificent portrait of a preposterous character … deplorable, brilliant, ludicrous, tragic but above all irresistible, as hundreds of women could testify. His biographer has done him full justice’ Francis Wheen, Daily Mail

‘A cracker of a biography, an extraordinary story of literary accomplishment, passionate war-mongering and sexual incorrigibility… In less skilled hands this could have been a disaster; in fact it works wonderfully well’ Spectator, ‘Books of the Year’

‘Beautiful, strange and original … an extraordinarily intimate portrait’ New Statesman

‘Hugely enjoyable … Hughes-Hallett has a great talent for encapsulating an era or an attitude …That almost 700 pages flew by bears testimony to how pleasurable and readable those pages were’ Sunday Times

‘A splendid subject for a biography … Hughes-Hallett dances her way through this extraordinary life in a style that is playful, punchy and generally pleasing … In death, as in life, the amazing story of D’Annunzio is painted in primary colours, but with the darkest shadows’ Observer

‘A riveting biography … It must have been so tempting to be judgmental, but Hughes-Hallett allows us to judge for ourselves’ Antonia Fraser, Daily Mail, ‘Books of the Year’

‘Not only an inspired telling of a life that becomes more repellent with each page, it illuminates early 20th-century Europe in brilliant, unexpected ways’ Observer

‘Electrifying … a fascinating portrait … Hughes-Hallett relates his journey from romantic idealist to Right-wing warmonger with flair and insight’ Daily Express

About the Author

Lucy Hughes-Hallett is the author of Cleopatra: Histories, Dreams and Distortions which was published in 1990 to wide acclaim, and Heroes: Saviours, Traitors and Supermen, published in 2004, which garnered similar praise. Cleopatra won the Fawcett Prize and the Emily Toth Award. Lucy Hughes-Hallett reviews for the Sunday Times. She lives in London.


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 4211 KB
  • Print Length: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (17 Jan. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008NZF90A
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 62 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #100,475 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The subject of this biography Gabriele D'Annunzio is a truly strange character that almost none of us has ever heard of, but who had a profound influence on Italy before and after the first world war.

I think Francis Wheen nails it with his comment on the back that "This is a magnificent portrait of a preposterous character..."
D'Annunzio was so strange, riddled with odd character traits, he really was a person you just couldn't make up. I won't go on and on, if you read it you'll find out what I mean.
I have to mention that Lucy Hughes-Hallett writes with amazing fluidity and elegance. She seems very psychologically acute and it's really hard to see how anyone else could have done this better.

A couple of things I didn't like about the book:
it doesn't start from the beginning, the timeline chops and changes at the beginning so you get to hear about really extraordinary exploits when you have no measure of the man, and then it goes into linear time again and you have the young D'Annuzio who is brilliant at school and always seeking mentors and women etc...

It's just too long. At 644 pages, I was getting fed up to the back teeth of the perverse pathological nature and antics of the eccentric subject and I thought that it would have been an even better read at about 350 pages. I suppose she was really comprehensive and did not want to leave any telling details out.

In conclusion
An extremely interesting, really well written book about an unforgettable character, you will learn a great deal if you read it and you may not agree that it's too long, so all in all 4 stars instead of 5.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I teach an AS-level History paper in totalitarian states, which includes Mussolini's Italy. So I'd heard of D'Annunzio and his seizure of Fiume. Amazingly, as a child I'd even visited Fiume (now Rijeka) in what was then Yugoslavia on a school cruise, which time it was a faded, shabby, and plaster-peeled shadow of its former self. But I knew very little about D'Annunzio's astonishing life and career. This book has the great virtues of being about a modern phenomenon and being written in an extremely readable way. I couldn't put it down. D'Annunzio was completely reckless in every way with himself and everyone else he came across. A shameless lothario, adventurer, an aviator who pioneered aerial bombing, a fantasist and visionary, he was horrifically misguided with his indulgent love of violence and nationalism that made him a proto-fascist. No wonder Mussolini admired him. The author paints her picture brilliantly through a narrative that is essentially a flashback from where she starts the book. Frankly, at well under a tenner the book is a bargain - if you have the slightest interest in history this will grip you with the opportunity to read about someone who created his own mythical image. Best historical biography I have read for years.
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Format: Paperback
This is the best biography I have read in recent years. The timeline is unusual but gets to the essence of the character far more quickly than the alternative of working out the nursery years in detail and then losing energy just when the character becomes truly interesting. D'Annunzio himself remains beyond my understanding and despite his many obsessions, it is really only in his final years in virtual exile at Gardone freed of financial worries by the state to build his Vittoriale that there is any predictability in his life. The book gives a fine and unusual view of the developing Italian nation, the need to unite disparate peoples by the shedding of blood in wars that could have been avoided, the shameful waste of compatriots' lives in the doomed assaults on entrenched Austrian troops in the alps, the influence of the distant Versailles Treaty negotiations on the early development of Italian fascism, and the role of form and rhetoric in shaping political function. D'Annunzio was never far from this action, although while the prototypical fascist leader he never endorsed the particular strain practised by Mussolini. The book is highly readable, in fact even exciting towards the end. A very few parts (mainly vernacular sexual terms and references to current technologies) might have been written or omitted to please me better, but those are minor quibbles.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a fascinating biography of a character largely unknown in the UK who exerted an unfortunate influence on his contemporaries and posterity. His larger than life persona is well covered in this absorbing if long biography.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I had never even heard of d'Annuzio and I do not consider myself to be ignorant on 19th and 20th C history so this was fascinating. I really recommend it for its very clear prose and its beautiful style - but with two exceptions.

(1) For a biography it jumps around a little instead of being a chronologically progressive story which does make the book harder to follow. There are reasons for this but I still think it could have been more sequential. (2) I object to the word "cunt" which is not the same as Nancy Mitford's "my golden cunt" but refers to a part of the female anatomy rather than a mole embossed on her letterhead. A lot of female readers will object to the C word and there must have been a less objectionable way of saying this in a book which is laden with sexual language.

Very good writing and gets it five stars but has a few problems.
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