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Mussolini: A Biography

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  172 ratings  ·  14 reviews
This work measures the true impact of Mussolini on his follower, Hitler and its consequences for both fascism and communism in 20th century history. 21 photos. Smith charts the career of the man who altered his choice of violence to a talent of deceit.
Paperback, 464 pages
Published September 12th 1983 by Vintage (first published 1981)
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3.87  · 
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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
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
Dec 01, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fascism, italy
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...
Eric Smith
Jul 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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 d ...more
Jason Evans
Story about how an idiot narcissist came to power...fuck. It's happening again, isn't it?
Scott Holstad
Dec 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
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 ligh ...more
Sep 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, history
This competent and interesting biography of Benito Mussolini is very relevant for the current state of affairs here in the United States as well as in Europe. There are many parallels between Mussolini and Trump. The lying, boasting, deception, indecisiveness, always placing blame on others, inept decision making, racial scapegoating, lack of empathy for those hurt by their decisions, inability to take criticism and on and on.

One difference is that Mussolini was quite a clever propagandist and s
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
Aug 24, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
....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
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 spontaneousl ...more
Mar 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Aka the neuroses and desires of Donald J Trump?
A literary masterpiece and a gripping portrait of one of history's most compelling supervillains.
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Denis Mack Smith was an English historian.
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