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I knew Gelasio Caetani was a skilled man. But how does a person diplomatically sit the fence between the directives of a megalomaniac dictator such as Mussolini and the contrary opinions of many citizens of a super-power such as the U.S.A.?
The answer is: carefully. Caetani could, and did. He was uniquely poised as a highly-educated, fluent mining engineer, already well-liked by the working men of Idaho, Colorado and Alaska mines. His noblesse oblige drove him to serve the people of both countries as few could.
Passionate Fascists in the U.S. and Italy pushed their agenda, thinly-veiled. Caetani knew that fierce democratic pride in the U.S. would resist the power-hungry conformists. He kept both sides at bay for a couple of years; as the author points out, Caetani was an idealist of the Fascist philosophy, not a believer. It would take a strong man to believe he could liaise between Benito and the vast possibilities of the U.S. in that era.
Caetani served both of his masters well - but he had an impossible task. He went on to other significant projects near Rome and died in 1934, not forgotten.
The book is dry and does not flow well. There is some repetition and the background philosophies are minimally discussed, or at least, simplistically. I appreciated the lack of judgment/personal opionion being stated by the author. You are left to judge the outcome for yourself.
I recommend this book for those interested in understanding the political climate of the early 1920's in Italian-American relations. Many thanks to the author for his extensive work.
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