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Mussolini's Shadow: The Double Life of Count Galeazzo Ciano Hardcover – February 9, 2000


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 314 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (February 9, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300079176
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300079173
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #432,401 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Italian Fascist leader Galeazzo Ciano was convinced that he was loved by Italians when in reality he was, according to Moseley, "the most hated man in Italy." Moseley, chief European correspondent for the Chicago Tribune, tells the tale of the rise and fall of this man, who believed he was Mussolini's heir apparent. A vain, frivolous and corrupt bon vivant immersed in Roman aristocratic society, Ciano was married to Edda Mussolini, Il Duce's favorite child. He rose rapidly through the ranks of the Fascist hierarchy: by 1936, when Italy was winding down the Ethiopian War and preparing to intervene in the Spanish Civil War, Ciano had become foreign minister, at the age of 32. But in 1943, the Allies were invading Italy, and Ciano was wary of continuing Italy's alliance with Germany: in July of that year, as a member of the Fascist Grand Council, Ciano voted against his father-in-law in a coup d'?tat. For this act, he was arrested, tried and executed (despite Edda's poignant appeals to her father). Moseley suggests here that the greatest tragedy of Ciano's life was that he lacked the moral and political courage to break with Mussolini and Fascism back in 1939, when he began to have his first doubts about the Nazi alliance and the war. Moseley has reconstructed Ciano's infamous life with a great deal of humanity (portraying him as a caring husband and loving father), while still showing his ruthless side (he assassinated political enemies). Using a range of secondary sources, including documents from the National Archives in Washington, D.C., interviews and, most extensively, Ciano's richly detailed diaries, Moseley reconstructs the dark world of Italian Fascism, adding an important new dimension to the study of its internal workings. 26 b&w photos. (Mar.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Not until now has an English-language biography appeared about Mussolini's foreign minister. Moseley's research certainly benefited from Ciano's chief interest to history--his diaries' commentary about Axis leaders--but Moseley ranges amongst all relevant sources to round out a portrait of Ciano that Ciano himself might have endorsed as a fair one. A sybarite who relished the perquisites of power, Ciano was a parvenu par excellence--yet he, like Talleyrand in another era, usually understood Italy's actual stature and interests in the world. That his Duce didn't heed his counsel to distance Italy from Hitler in the prelude to, and early stages of, World War II emphasizes Ciano's role as formulator of policy rather than as its executant. That is, until he voted to overthrow Mussolini in July 1943, initiating the complex subterfuges that eventuated in his diaries being secreted in Switzerland and his own ending before a Fascist firing squad. Moseley, expressing sympathy for Ciano, has produced an engaging, critical, but measured biography. Gilbert Taylor

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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This book reads a lot like People Magazine.
MLR13000
Ray Mosely weaves the intricacies of their story, and that of many secondary players, together with skill and well documented detail.
exurbanite
Moseley does a good job of revealing Ciano's evolution from a blind follower of Mussolini to active and effective foil.
Bill Stevenson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 10, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful book. I will probably read it twice, because it is literature as well as history. But is must have been a very tricky book to write. Every person who appears has good reasons to make up lies or shade meanings in discussing or recording the historic events recounted in the book.
It is an amazing cast of characters: Count Ciano, his wife Edda Mussolini, Emilio Pucci, Ciano's many mistresses including at least one German spy, Benito Mussolini, Claretta Petacci, various high party officials from the Fascist era, Hitler, Goebbels, Ribbentrop, Goering, Roosevelt, Churchill -- and Allen Dulles and many other spies.
What you get is essentially a work of fiction, contrived variously by each of the many characters. But it works. The author has arranged the material in such a careful way that you can reconstruct for yourself, from the progression of this deeply researched story, what the real truth might have been. It would be hard to say if the net effect is precisely Shakespearean or Freudian, but this book is certainly a page turner.
Count Ciano seems to have been a born actor, a sort of human putty who could mould himself to suit every situation. It was a wonderful skill for a professional diplomat. He was Mussolini's son in law and benefited enormously from his family connection. (Mussolini appears to have benefited from the relationship as well, perhaps in material ways which are not at all clear, but it is clear that Ciano was no mere sycophant).
Ciano was instrumental in deposing Mussolini in 1943, and this work cost him his life. Withal he was not an admirable man, but one cannot help but admire his style, his self-interested drive, his wry intelligence and his physical courage.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Bill Stevenson on December 5, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Moseley has written a readable and well researched book on the life of the enigmatic Count Ciano. It is certainly the first comprehensive study of Ciano to appear in English. Ciano is worthy of the attention of anyone interested in Twentieth Century Europe, diplomacy, or World War II. Moseley does a good job of revealing Ciano's evolution from a blind follower of Mussolini to active and effective foil. There can be little doubt that in anything less than an unrestricted dictatorship, Ciano's efforts to keep Italy out of WWII would have succeeded. In the end Ciano's undisguished contempt of the Nazi Heirarchy cost him his life. I recommend this book as a precursor to reading Ciano's diary.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Lehigh History Student VINE VOICE on February 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is truly one of the most disturbing stories in World War 2. Ciano would become the epitome of everything hated in Italy. He would claim responsibility for the invasion of Albania and Greece and blamed for some of the worst defeats in Italy's history. Much of this is undeserved as Mussolini was calling many of the shots and the fall out between the two became apparent. Had Ciano been stronger and not captured under the personality cult of Mussolini the break would have been bigger and he would have opposed the war shattering the Duce ideas of a strong Italian army. The diaries that Ciano wrote would be key aspects of Nuremberg and both the allies and axis sought to acquire them. The story of the acquisition is heart wrenching and Edda Ciano's bravery is truly remarkable. What she went through from the execution of her husband to the estrangement of her father Mussolini was simply amazing. This is a must read for those who want to understand how World War 2 unfolded and the war that Italy played. It is a well written biography and truly a great addition to the historiography.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Wilhelm Snyman on November 23, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is a superb read and Mr Mosely coveres an intensely complex period with majesty and skill. Here and there it is a bit difficult who the subject is of a sentence, as the relative pronoun sometimes doesn't come after the immediately preceding subject of a sentence, but that happens rarely. Mr Moseley's reads like a thriller, but at the same time is a thoroughly researched, critical reading of a tragic, through fascinating period of history. I cannot recommend this book more highly for anyone interested obviously in history, but also for those interested in human behviour and our ability to deceive and contradict ourselves. Do read!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jack on May 29, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had some respect for Ciano before I read this, thinking he was the conscience of the Italian people. In getting to know Ciano by reading this book I realized that he was a mirrow image of IL Duce, including the womanizing part. His wife, Duce's daughter, was just as vain and an equally sorry figure. The author does a splendid job of researching old documents, talking to some of the older survivors and friends for first hand info.
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