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Customer reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
The Pike
Format: Paperback|Change
Price:£12.99+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on 25 July 2017
nice book good price quick delivery
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on 3 April 2017
Brilliantly written account of a brilliant character.
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on 3 December 2013
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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on 31 December 2013
Lucy-Hughes-Hallet has constructed a masterpiece.
This is a beautiful, skilful, and erudite work.
The subject matter, 'The Pike', is shown to be a fascinating character, larger than life, and full of colour.
I cannot lavish enough praise on the author for this masterful book.
I thoroughly enjoyed every page of it.
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on 16 April 2017
Wonderful! I'm about 150 pages in, but I can't wait any longer to tell you -- Take it from me, this is a wonderful biography of a bizarre man, a real one-off. As enthralling and engrossing as any novel. And very informative about the context in Italy and the rise in Fascism.
Surprised there are not more reviews! And at the moment, on Kindle, a real bargain (which is how I came to buy it). Totally recommended.
Update April 24th. I have just finished this book. 600 pages later.... It is a really wonderful biography, an enormous amount of material organised into a very readable and interesting narrative. D'Annunzio was utterly bizarre - you wouldn't believe in his very existence if it wasn't supported by the evidence of research. An archetypal fascist, utterly contrary at different periods, very eloquent but talking utter nonsense about the importance of shedding blood (lots of blood!), clearly brilliant but often spouting complete b*llshit, Obsessed with sex and (latterly) drugs. By the end of the book the story has segued into the rise of Mussolini, in some ways a D'Annunzio-lite.
This is a book for anyone with an interest in history (or a warning from history), ideology, or indeed the outer extremes of human nature. I do find it difficult to understand the esteem in which he was held - his sexual success, the way he was revered -- given how unpleasant and narcissistic he was, linking his personal fortunes to the destiny of Italy, and talking about himself as if he was shrouded in myth. Perhaps he was....
Do read this book! The current Kindle ebook price is a steal....
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on 12 February 2013
I was very interested to read a review of this book in the Daily Telegraph. I've been to d'Annunzio's house on Lake Como and seen what an extraordinary character he was, so I was keen to get this study of the man and the artist. It is well-written in an interesting, non-chronological way and the author's considerable scholarship is evident without being obtrusive.

My first 'serious' purchase for the Kindle and I find I forget that I am holding a piece of electronica, as the writing draws me in.
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on 11 April 2015
This is a truly remarkable book. I am not a fan of biography in the general scheme of things, but this is written in such a creative and accomplished way. it is not a linear account of d'Annunzio's life, rather an illuminating weaving together of his personal, political, and cultural preoccupations. There is no element of hero worship in this text and sometimes d'Annunzio is shown to be 'monstrous' - but this 'monstrosity' is shown to be the product of so many historical currents ( including a national 'boodlust', an aesthetic decadence, a cult of the 'hero', and so on). We gain a sense of D'Annunzio as a scavanger of other men's ideas and work, but we are also made aware of what in all of this is truly new. It is written with pace and energy and a wonderful turn of phrase. I cannot commend this book too highly.
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on 6 October 2015
Brilliantly readable book from start to finish. Being partly Italian I was hoping that I would get to like the man. No! He just got more and more despicable despite the fact that clearly the author was fascinated by him as were hundreds of men and particularly women! My only criticism of the book was where she justified d'Annunzio's insistence that on a particular occasion the army shoot Italian prisoners of war visible across the enemy lines in the belief that they were cowards. She blandly justified his actions by stating that Italian law allowed this. On the basis of such arguments Nazis who tortured and shot Jews, communists and partisans were justified in using the 'I was following orders' excuse because German law allowed it! At the end one could not help but agree with somebody in Mussolini's high command who on hearing about d'Annunzio's death said 'At last!'
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on 27 January 2014
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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on 7 January 2014
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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