Mussolini’s Italy: Life Under the Fascist Dictatorship, 1915-1945 by Richard J.B. Bosworth

When the black shirts took over Italy…

The book, as the title suggests, traces those 3 decades when the Fascists (yes they were the first ones to use the term) took over Italy. What a show it was – beating up communists, Slovenes, leftists, rightists, Germans, centerists – basically anyone who opposed them.

The way they grabbed power – with 35 MPs, they announced that Benito Mussolini would be the PM. And the King acceded, because the Black Shirts promised to march into Rome. The book traces their entire history, how Giovinezza became the regime’s anthem, how they took over Ethiopia, and documents, among others, Mussolini’s mysoginst statements (“women – either good for children or beatngs”).

The truth is that  like all dictatorships or absolute regimes, Mussolini built his terror on the basis of a weak existing government, brow beating the powers that be and by agreeing to terms of peace and breaking them when it suited him best. Sounds familiar? Lenin/ Stalin/ Hitler – all of them went through the same political ascendancy.

If Italy, absolute regimes or World War II  interest you, this book is a recommended read. I gave it a 8/10, taking away a point for it being (over) loaded with statistics.

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