cover image Mussolini: A New Life

Mussolini: A New Life

Nicholas Farrell. Phoenix (USA), $19.95 (560pp) ISBN 978-1-84212-123-8

A former journalist for the Daily Telegraph brings new light to Mussolini's political contributions and his embattled conscience in this absorbing and fresh biography of the man who created, and then lost control of, the Fascist movement. Farrell follows his subject's numerous underlings and mistresses to piece together a portrait untainted by the maniacal persona Mussolini has inherited from history. This balanced perspective opens the door for an updated look at European Fascism and Anti-Semitism, one that will be useful to understanding the bloody chess game Europe's foreign ministers and military commanders played during the two World Wars. Farrell seems committed to exonerating Il Duce from complicity with Hitler's crimes, going so far as to argue that, while ""the French had been only too willing to round up the Jews,"" Mussolini and his officers went out of their way to save the Jewish people in their territories. Still, Farrell's greatest feat is his iconoclastic analysis of Fascism's socialist origins and its contemporary rivalry with democracy as it tried to plot a ""Third Way"" between capitalism and communism. Soberly countenancing the moral relativity of power in the modern epoch, Farrell recounts Mussolini's life with precision and detail. Though long and complex, this new reading of Italy's most infamous leader and his place in history's most violent chapter is an original and important work.