This is the first academic biography of one of the most important and controversial figures in modern Italian history. Francesco Crispi (1818-1901) was among the key figures in the Italian Risorgimento, a close freind and supporter of Mazzini and Garibaldi, and one of the architects of Italy's unification in 1860. Yet he went on to become an authoritarian prime minister and ally and admirer of Bismarck, whose ambitions for Italy brought Europe close,, on several occasions, to a general conflagration. Crispi was celebrated by the fascist regime as the 'precursor' of Mussolini, and in exploring Crispi's evolution from revolutionary democrat to bellicose authoritarian, this book aims to shed light on the roots of fascism and the problems of Italian liberalism. The central theme linking the various phases of Crispi's career is that of how to turn Italy from a 'geographical expression' into a nation.
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Dr Duggan's book offers us an account unlikely for years to be rivalled, let alone superseded ... Amid abundant detail drawn from exhaustive archival research as well as critical trail-blazing through the dense undergrowth of polemical material which Crispi's career generated a-plenty in his own lifetime, it establishes a clearly-told story which is easy to follow ... outstanding. ( English Historical Review)
[Duggan's] work is of great interest to anyone concerned with the contemporary debate on nations and nationalism ... His achievement, in Francesco Crispi: From Nation to Nationalism, is to show the reasons for Crispi's transformation from a courageous democrat into an embittered authoritarian. ( Adrian Lyttelton, Times Literary Supplement)
A judicious and balanced work ... It is doubly to the credit of the author, Christopher Duggan, that besides throwing light on the paradoxes of the Risorgimento and the complexities of European politics in the seond half of the 19th century, he brings Crispi to life ... a coherent picture of a highly complex man emerges from a lively text. ( Rivista: The Journal of the British-Italian Society)
Intelligent and scholarly analysis ... Franceso Crispi is a laudable work of scholarship based on a decade of archival research, but it is not an arid political biography. Duggan has produced a rich, three-dimensional portrait, writing sympathetically of Crispi's personal tragedies. ( David Gilmour, The Spectator)
An excellent biography ... full of intriguing details ... as enjoyable as a novel. ( Corriere della Sera)
A fine book that brings us close to Crispi. It offers a balanced explanation of the many premonitions of fascism, and so allows us to penetrate the character of Italian politics, and perhaps the Italian character itself. ( Il Gazzettino)
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