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3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  137 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
An unflinching portrait of a supreme opportunist. Although Mussolini considered himself a man of destiny, he program consisted of little more than aggression overseas, suppression at home, and an aping of Hitler's racial laws. In the end, that "destiny" led to his nation's collapse and his own destruction.
Paperback, 448 pages
Published October 1st 2002 by Phoenix (first published 1981)
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It struck me reading this book how Mussolini and his Italy were most probably, outside the BBC, the dominant influences on George Orwell in writing 1984. From this biography there is a sense of how constant and overwhelming the joyful references to violence and war were in fascist Italy and how Mussolini's basic mental framework was orientated towards violence, with war as it's socially organised consequence.

Only war was to decide the ranking of nations. As such it required a militarised populat
Dec 01, 2010 AC rated it liked it
Shelves: fascism
Smith is a first-rate historian - but he does not understand this topic, in my opinion. He thinks Mussolini was simply a charlatan, without any ideological core -- and this is simply incorrect. His book on Mazzini looks interesting - and I'll check it out someday -- but it must have been a challenge for a no-nonsense empirical Brit like Mack Smith to make sense out of a revolutionary spiritualist-nationalist like Mazzini...
May 13, 2012 Brian rated it liked it
The life of Mussolini was one that was filled with tragedy for the state of Italy. Mussolini is not lionized by Dennis Mack Smith but instead taken apart for the inadequacies in his rule during the World War 2 era. Mussolini never really had control of the situation in Italy and was most of the time a confused dictator. He believe his strength to be far greater than it was and considered Italy a great power in the world. He was quickly becoming a pawn of Hitler and his indecisiveness led Italy ...more
Eric Smith
Nov 15, 2015 Eric Smith rated it really liked it
Imagine your country run by the Three Stooges, with Moe the President, Larry the Treasury Secretary, and Curly in charge of all three branches of the military. Such was Italy under Mussolini, only Mussolini played all three stooges–a super-stooge!–but one that caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.

Mussolini was first a journalist, obsessed with words and images that manipulate people and governments, distorting reality on a national scale. He spent hours every day reading the pape
Non fiction should be the complete truth but as for each person the truth might be different, this is especially the case about historical subjects, wars, ... .
This book talked about Mussolini the person and didn't focus on Facism, even though it is of course a huge part of him. Saying Mussolini or Facism is for many people the same. At the same time Facism is seen in a different way by people from the same background, country but also by people from different countries. The main image is taugh
I’ve always wondered why we don’t hear more about Italy in WW2. Now I know. Mussolini had some serious problems, but his main problem, as far as trying to be a leader, was having absolutely no talent for administration. That sounds very dull and boring, but it destroyed his country. He made extravagant claims about industry, the military, etc. and instead of following up and making sure they were done (build tanks, enlist soldiers) it seems as though he just expected the Italians to ...more
Scott Holstad
Jan 17, 2016 Scott Holstad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve read numerous books over the years on infamous people like Hitler, Himmler, Ho Chi Mihn, Mao, and more, but I’ve never learned anything about Mussolini and I’ve always wanted to because I’ve heard so much about him, but really no details. So I happened upon this book recently and was thrilled. Just finished it and was really impressed. It’s well researched and well written. Details Mussolini’s life in a chronological fashion from birth to death in fairly good detail and in really sheds ...more
Jill Hutchinson
In modern times when we see films of Benito Mussolini, strutting like a peacock, with out thrust chin and arms folded across his chest, we see a buffoon. In this unsparing biography the author shows us that this was not quite the case. Mussolini was a prodigious con man with great powers of persuasion who had a talent for seeing which way the political winds were blowing and used this talent to become Il Duce, the man responsible for damaging Italy almost beyond repair.

He was an anarchist, natio
Jul 26, 2016 John rated it liked it
....or how not to do fascism, perhaps?

I knew precious little about Mussolini. I had a vague idea that he was regarded as a bit of a figure of fun. Nothing here that DMS writes would suggest that my initial view was too far wrong.

The book is clearly written. Somehow, I felt the author hadn't enjoyed writing it. Unsurprisingly, therefore, I didn't particularly enjoy reading it. Mussolini's rise to power was his greatest achievement. What he did with it: much less so.

An amateur, when compared with
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