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.)
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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