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The Sack of Rome: Media + Money + Celebrity = Power = Silvio Berlusconi

4.03  ·  Rating Details  ·  94 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
Award-winning author Alexander Stille has been called "one of the best English- language writers on Italy" by the "New York Times Book Review," and in "The Sack of Rome" he sets out to answer the question: What happens when vast wealth, a virtual media monopoly, and acute shamelessness combine in one man? Many are the crimes of Silvio Berlusconi, Stille argues, and, with d ...more
ebook, 400 pages
Published July 1st 2007 by Penguin Books (first published June 22nd 2006)
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Oct 17, 2013 Louise rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, italy
Stille has put together a thought provoking book. Presaged by Orwell, the SB story defines the age we are living in, and those of us who care about democracy need to understand it.

To achieve his vast wealth, SB and his associates broke and skirted many laws. By selling himself through his monopolistic media empire (and the image of his new party named for his popular soccer team) in three months time, he achieved prosecutorial immunity by taking over the reins of government.

As Prime Minister, wi
Feb 14, 2012 Ryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Silvio Berlusconi has been the subject of alternating currents of global fascination and derision for decades. Yet outside of Italy, investigations of the man have been rare. Alexander Stille corrects this oversight to reveal aspects of the former Italian prime minister long overshadowed by his gaudier escapades.

Stille thankfully begins the story with Berlusconi's post-collegiate years as a real estate developer in Milan. This spares the reader two of the most odious features of recent politica
Michael Frudakis
May 10, 2014 Michael Frudakis rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book! Stille expertly narrates Silvio Berlusconi's entertaining rise to wealth and power while building Fininvest and his subsequent transition/takeover of Italian politics only three months after founding his own party, Forza Italia.

Stille flavors this chronicle with an excellent commentary depicting both the brilliance and depravity of Berlusconi's maneuvers. In fact, I often laughed to myself while reading about Silvio's adventures with TV actresses, politicians, and clever sidestep
Jun 15, 2011 Jane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: italo-file, histories
A very timely book, given this week's Italian election results for various referendums, and a prominent article in the Economist: "The man who screwed an entire country." The book is a well-researched and meticulously detailed indictment. It really deserves four stars, but I have to admit some boredom and consequent skimming occured.
Margaret Sankey
The good news is that Italians no longer kill each other over politics. The bad news is that they're listening to Silvio Berlusconi.
Oct 10, 2015 Joseph rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I consider this the companion piece to Stille's 'Excellent Cadavers'. The entire political order was in tatters with the massive corruption trials of the early 1990s. Berlusconi said that he had to get into politics to stay out of jail! He played the outsider, but was intricately connected to Bettino Craxi, the central figure in the scandals. He used his near-total control of TV and large sectors of print media to either blackout damaging stories or shrilly shout down his accusers with the lame, ...more
Jun 03, 2008 Ryan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in Italy, politics, and amuzing stories of Italian corruption and mafia
As I read this book I was very surprised to find many part of Berlusconi's career impressive and admirable. He was the first one in Italy, and I'm fairly sure the first in all of Europe, to break the government monopoly on TV programming. And, that monopoly was ridiculous. Since government controlled the TV airwaves, they also controlled the content, and strongly resisted capitalist development by making restrictive laws on what could not be advertised. For example, before Berlusconi, it was ill ...more
This is a fascinating and appalling account of the career of the current Italian PM. His early business ventures with their misty financial sponsors are detailed. By the early 1990s when scandal hit Italian politics in a big way and a whole new political system was being established based on the principle of winner-take-all rather than proportional representation. With the center right either hopelessly splintered or under indictment it appeared that the Communists were likely to win the next na ...more
Jul 05, 2007 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As someone from the US, reading about the effect Silvio Berlusconi has had on Italian politics lends an interesting perspective on events here at home. As in the case of the element Helium, its existence first inferred with spectroscopic evidence from the sun, some things in one's immediate environment are first understood via distant sources.

The author presents Berlusconi as one who more than anyone else in Italian politics has capitalized on the corrosive effect television has had on the sort
Yet another book that I'm "in the middle of". Oh Silvio, you have to admire a man ask slick as Silvio. Not that I condone corruption and deceit but when someone can get away with as much as this guy you gotta give him some credit. Certainly will never be called lazy or unambitious. The book offers some amusing insights into the Italian government. Anyone who's read Excellent Cadavers will enjoy this. Stille brings the same level of detail and excellence to this treatment of Berlusconi.
Mar 16, 2012 Solor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To my knowledge, Stille has been one of the first International observer to understand Silvio Berlusconi threat to Italy and Democracy in general. Since then, he has devoted himself to bring to light all the murkiness and wrongdoings that a modern Citizen Kane has accumulated in his book.
It is fundamental reading to comprehend how Italy was mesmerised by this burlesque randy charlatan
written like a long form article, the subject is interesting and the circumstances so unbelievable it is forgivable when at times it feels a little slow. Knowing corruption on an intimate level is worth it.
Jun 29, 2012 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is so well-written and so fucked up. My heart is heavy with the grotesque destruction of an extraordinary place by this repulsive man.
Mar 19, 2009 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A detailed account of how Silvio Berlusconi acquired his financial power and how he used this financial and media power to gain political power.
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