The Force of Destiny

The Force of Destiny

A History of Italy Since 1796

Book - 2007
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The early and mid-nineteenth century saw a chaotic, fragmented peninsula in southern Europe fused together to form what we know today as Italy. It was a birth that would have hugely damaging, as well as beneficial, side effects. To many Italians, unification meant that a new Italy would take its rightful place as one of Europe's great nations and that, swept on by 'the force of destiny', it would cease to be a poor and despised country, admired principally by tourists, and emerge instead as a dominant power in the continent, and worthy of its glorious past. The failure of Itialian unification to realize these ambitions led to Italy becoming a highly unstable element in Europe, contributing to both world wars and challenging the general international order.

In The Force of Destiny Christopher Duggan tells this extraordinary story, one of the greatest and most dramatic in European history, with vividness and intelligence. Interweaving Italy's art, music, literature and architecture with its economic and social realities and political development, he exposes the difficulties of building a nation and shows how easily nationalism can slip towards authoritarianism and war.

Publisher: London : Allen Lane, 2007.
ISBN: 9780713997095
Branch Call Number: 945.08 D866
Characteristics: xxiii, 652 p. : ill., maps ; 24 cm.


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Oct 20, 2017

A pretty good reference book, a bit dry but fairly comprehensive, endeavoring to untangle the complexities of Italian history from the time of the Napoleonic invasion until almost the end of the 20th century. It therefore clearly covers a great deal of territory and does so in an even-handed manner, which is no small achievement, given the degree of passionate rivalry, internecine warfare and general skullduggery that characterized much of that period. That said, the high drama of the Risorgimento, the protracted and bitter struggle between the Church and the secular world, the topsy-turvy adventurism of successive Italian regimes leading up to and during the two Great Wars, all of that I believe merited a more colorful and even a light-hearted approach, to capitalize on the sheer outrageousness of many of the players and their adventures. There is surely the stuff of great theater here but the scholarly Duggan seems not to have noticed it.
In a nutshell: Long on facts, short on entertainment.

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