Anna Cento Bull is Professor of Italian History and Politics at the University of Bath. Her publications include Social Identities and Political Cultures in Italy (Oxford: Berghahn, 2000); The Lega Nord and The Northern Question in Italian Politics (London: Palgrave, 2001) (with M. Gilbert) and Speaking Out and Silencing: Culture, Society and Politics in Italy in the 1970s. (Legenda: Oxford, 2005) (edited jointly with A. Giorgio).
Best Books of 2018 --The Economist
A personal and urgent examination of Fascism in the twentieth century and how its legacy shapes today’s world, written by one of America’s most admired public servants, the first woman to serve as U.S. secretary of state
A Fascist, observes Madeleine Albright, “is someone who claims to speak for a whole nation or group, is utterly unconcerned with the rights of others, and is willing to use violence and whatever other means are necessary to achieve the goals he or she might have.”
The twentieth century was defined by the clash between democracy and Fascism, a struggle that created uncertainty about the survival of human freedom and left millions dead. Given the horrors of that experience, one might expect the world to reject the spiritual successors to Hitler and Mussolini should they arise in our era. In Fascism: A Warning, Madeleine Albright draws on her experiences as a child in war-torn Europe and her distinguished career as a diplomat to question that assumption.
Fascism, as she shows, not only endured through the twentieth century but now presents a more virulent threat to peace and justice than at any time since the end of World War II. The momentum toward democracy that swept the world when the Berlin Wall fell has gone into reverse. The United States, which historically championed the free world, is led by a president who exacerbates division and heaps scorn on democratic institutions. In many countries, economic, technological, and cultural factors are weakening the political center and empowering the extremes of right and left. Contemporary leaders such as Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un are employing many of the tactics used by Fascists in the 1920s and 30s.
Fascism: A Warning is a book for our times that is relevant to all times. Written by someone who has not only studied history but helped to shape it, this call to arms teaches us the lessons we must understand and the questions we must answer if we are to save ourselves from repeating the tragic errors of the past.
From 1999 to 2009, U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle recorded the most career sniper kills in United States military history. His fellow American warriors, whom he protected with deadly precision from rooftops and stealth positions during the Iraq War, called him “The Legend”; meanwhile, the enemy feared him so much they named him al-Shaitan (“the devil”) and placed a bounty on his head. Kyle, who was tragically killed in 2013, writes honestly about the pain of war—including the deaths of two close SEAL teammates—and in moving first-person passages throughout, his wife, Taya, speaks openly about the strains of war on their family, as well as on Chris. Gripping and unforgettable, Kyle’s masterful account of his extraordinary battlefield experiences ranks as one of the great war memoirs of all time.
In the last two decades, and especially in recent years, former extreme-right terrorists in Italy have started to talk about their past involvement in terrorist violence, including, for the first time, acts of violence which have for decades been considered taboo, that is to say, bomb attacks against innocent civilians. These narratives add to the perspectives offered by members of left-wing terrorist groups, such as the Red Brigades and Prima Linea. Surprisingly, these narratives have not been systematically examined, yet they form a unique and extremely rich source of first-hand testimony, providing invaluable insights into processes of youth radicalization and de-radicalization, the social re-integration of ex-terrorists, as well as personal and collective healing.
Even less attention has been paid to the victims’ narratives or stories. Indeed, the views and activities of the victims and their associations have been seriously neglected in the scholarly literature on terrorism, not just in Italy, but elsewhere in Europe. The book therefore examines the perspectives of the victims and relatives of victims of terrorism, who over the years have formed dedicated associations and campaigned relentlessly to obtain justice through the courts, with little or no support from the state and, especially in the case of the bombing massacres, with increasing awareness that the state played a role in thwarting the course of justice.
Ending Terrorism in Italywill be of interest to historians, social scientists and policy makers as well as students of political violence and post-conflict resolution.