17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
A well padded out vacation book,
This review is from: The Dark Heart of Italy: Travels Through Time and Space Across Italy (Paperback)
I was given this book by a colleague after spending a week in Italy with him on business so that I could better understand a lot of what I had failed to understand over that week!
That Tobias Jones is an amusing and entertaining writer is clear as one works through the chapters and this is in part due to many chapters being originally magazine articles and so have a self contained conciseness. The book is thus a great "toe dipper" in that one can read each chapter alone and overall get a good feel for modern Italy across a great variety of topics including Italian language, the Catholic Church, Football, the schism between Left and Right and the experience of Berloscuni's second rise to power and the subsequent "benevolent dictatorship" model that ensued. As a future or recent visitor to Italy this all makes for great background reading.
However, this is not a great book in being insightful or incisive as to why Italy is as it is, especially today under Berloscuni and so soon after the "Clean Hands" uprising that led to the quick and unforeseen collapse of the Second Republic. Many chapters are padded out with a synopsis type history of Italy that in a magazine article may work but in chapter after chapter in a book do not. The most extreme example is the chapter on the Sofri case which at 23 pages has only just over three pages on actually meeting with Sofri in prison which is the reason for the story.
Also one supects that Jones as one clearly in love with Italy may be too close and so lose some objectivity, as evidenced in his closing chapter on the Italian fascination with Death where the role of the Catholic Church in perpetuating (Jackie Kennedy's famous quote that the one thing the Catholic Church really understood was how to use death)is never mentioned.