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on 13 April 2016
I've given this 5 stars because it is , I think, an excellent biography in that it succeeds in exploring the actual character of the subject whilst also giving us insight into the historical/political aspects of the times in which he lived. The balance is maintained throughout. Myths come down to us via 'soundbites' much of the time, and they are of course limited. Farrell manages to bring Mussolini very much to life in these pages, and gives us many surprising facts and facets of the regime, its context and rivalries within, and the eventual fatal partnership with Nazi Germany.
I would recommend.
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on 31 August 2016
I have not read much about Mussolini. As the Author explains, he is oft depicted as a Buffoon, a Clown etc due to the Victorious Nations propaganda and hubris at the end of WW2. .
So, I sat and read this absorbing book. the Author makes clear the differences between Italian Fascism & the following Mussolini generated with his new "Third Way". He contrasts it with National-Socialism & Communism.
The different Dictatorial style of Hitler & Mussolini are the subject of much information & explanation. Mussolini's rise to power and reign as Dictator are achieved with very little bloodshed. Then because of France & Britain's poor diplomacy & Mussolini's indecisiveness & poor military ability Italy is drawn closer to Hitlers Nazi Germany and the inevitable slide to war occurs.
Then Mussolini is gradually shown by the Author to become a prevaricating buffoon and an indecisive clown due to his inability to make a decision early enough or stick to a course of action.
We all know how it ended for the man and his close associates. I am not sure if the author was trying to elicit some sympathy for Il Duce's end or not. If yes, it did not work.
An excellent book, well written, good source materials and absorbing and thought provoking.
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on 17 May 2016
Compelling biography of a dictator who enjoyed mass support in Italy for the best part of 20 years. Of particular interest is the detail of UK-Italian relations in the early 1930s and UK government support for Mussolini as a potential ally against Hitler before Mussolini's own imperial ambitions were opposed - at least in public - by Foreign Secretary Eden. An informed and thought-provoking book.
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on 5 August 2016
Nicolas Farrell has written a biography of Musolini full of fActs and personal judgments. He also puts him firmly into historic contracts. Mussolini was a complex man who was certainly no Hitler; fascism was complex, and no doubt the term is often misused. However, Farrell's revisionism on occasion goes to far: Benito was also no saint!
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on 14 June 2004
Nicholas Farrell's 'new life' on Mussolini is indeed a refreshingly 'new' appraisal of the man, his achievements and his failures. Farrell presents Mussolini as a dictator/politician who avoided most of the excesses of dictatorship and was as a result immensely popular with the Italian people for his achievements until the last few years when fatally he dragged Italy into the war. Farrell's theory is that if, like Franco, Mussolini had kept out of the war, he would have survived, like Franco, and history would have viewed him in a much kinder light.
The book is packed with details that interest and inform, for the most part it is written in a way that compels you to turn the pages and at its best reads like a thriller, for example the chapter on The Duce's betrayal by his closest colleagues entitled 'The Last Supper'. Farrell's excellent analysis of fascism as 'The Third Way' between socialism and capitalism reveals just why it had such popular appeal in the turmoil after the first world war.
The book is bound to provoke as it shows more sympathy to the dictator than is 'politically correct' but Farrell sets out the case why logically and consistently and forces us to re-examine our viewpoint and that demonstrates the book's merits.
For myself, I agree with Churchill's analysis that Mussolini's fatal character flaw was displayed in joining forces with Hitler and also with Farrell's comments that fascism probably would have ossified and become a spent force (cf Franco's Spain).
A thoroughly enjoyable and thought-provoking read!!
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on 25 January 2016
fantastically detailed book placing Mussolini in context. challenging our stereotypes, Farrell explains the background that shaped the man and created the political environment in which his mash-up of nationalism, futurism and revolutionary zeal could flourish. the decline and demise serves as a warning to those who idolise unconventional politicians
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on 10 July 2003
like most people of my generation ( I am war veteran) i had a dim impression of benito mussolini. to me he was of the same noxious ilk as adolf hitler, josef stalin and fidel castro. he was a dictator who had no truck with the freedoms we fought to protect. i was not taken in by his funny voice or famous love of animals. to me italian soldiers were not to be feared as the germans because they did not want to fight and always had a happy smile and wanted to surrender. all those with whom i spoke said mussolini was a bad man who had no place in a country such as theirs where people wanted to make merry not make war. after the war i came to know and love italia as it is called by the locals. i never mastered the tongue but no matter because there was pasta and wine and much banter and laughter of the sort rarely heard in my quiet street. having read nicholas farrell's fine book in now see i was wrong. at the start mussolini was no thug but a man who invented a compromise between the loathsome extremities of right and left. only later did he fall victim to the barbarism we know as fascism. i do not know if nicholas farrell is right as i cannot claim to be an expert on the war but it certainly made me think. it takes a brave writer like nicholas farrell to come up with such a theory as this. many people will say he is not right to defend mussolini with reservations. i say that is freedom itself. i take issue with the writer on his parables regarding the connection between religion, food and football that he calls the Vital Triangle but otherwise throughly enjoyed this book. I will now have to think about the war again and why we fought the Italians. I hope the writer tackles more wars in his next book as he has a flair for it.
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on 11 October 2016
Too partisan for a serious biography. Farrell explains most of glaringly bad aspects of Fascism (violence, murder, dictatorship, the link with Hitler) as either crimes by others not approved of by Mussolini, or decisions or associations forced upon him by bad turn of events.
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on 7 January 2016
It is easy for me to rate Mussolini by Nicholas Farrell as it can be summed up in just one word SUPERB.
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on 15 August 2016
A hagiography. If you want a more meaningful book that does not ignore/gloss over the violence of the Fascist regime, its abandonment of human rights and its appalling record on the economy read Mack Smith. Nothing wrong with journalists writing history but be warned they fail to leave their ideological baggage out of what they write.
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