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The Body of Il Duce: Mussolini's Corpse and the Fortunes of Italy Paperback – May 2, 2006

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (May 2, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805080139
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805080131
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,045,316 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From The New Yorker

In the iconography of Italian Fascism, Mussolini's extraordinary physique-barrel chest, wide legs, Rodinesque brow, and jutting jaw-was ubiquitous. He was übermensch, heartthrob, and political movement rolled into one. When the dictatorship fell, it was, naturally, on Mussolini's body that his war-ravaged country took revenge; he was executed and strung up by his feet in Piazzale Loreto, in Milan. For the next twelve years, as Sergio Luzzatto's ingenious history documents, the corpse was displayed, beaten, denigrated, buried, stolen by admirers, recovered, hidden, and finally laid to rest, dramatically reduced by its postmortem adventures. For Luzzatto, Italy's relationship with its Fascist past is illuminated by the tale of a body as politically significant in death as it was in life.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

The corpse of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini has been a ghoulish political football. In addition to his capture and execution in April 1945, historian Luzzatto examines the body's display in Milan, its subsequent peregrinations, and the indelible impression of the death spectacle on the Italian political and literary imagination. As Luzzatto points out, for true-believing Fascists, Mussolini's propagandized image was not effaced by the degradation of Il Duce's body. One named Domenico Luccisi stole the coffin in 1946, but not for long, and it was secreted in a convent until 1957, when it was reinterred in Mussolini's hometown, replete with a shrine for his admirers. Luccisi parlayed his devotional stunt into a political career; likewise, Mussolini's executioner, Communist Walter Audisio, also entered parliament. Meanwhile Italian writers such as Carlo Emilio Gadda and Curzio Malaparte were tapping Mussolini's pre- and postmortem appearance for novels exploring the postwar continuation in Italian politics of neo-Fascism. A perceptive chronicle of a bizarre undercurrent in Italian history. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By lordhoot on November 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Sergio Luzzatto's The Body of Il Duce tells an interesting story of what happened to Benito Mussolini after he died. Its a strange story how his death and corpse became a political football during the post World War II Italy, as left wing, right wing and moderate political parties tries to use Mussolini's death and corpse as a political leverage against each other.

Outside of some initial background material, the real story basically began with Mussolini getting executed and hanging upside down at Piazzlae Loreto in Milan and its ends with Mussolini finally getting a decent burial at the family cemetary in Predappio, Italy. But between the two events, tells the messy tale of Italian politics at its worst.

Author explained the brutal nature of Mussolini's death, fate of corpse as it hung upside down like a side of beef and the quest so many people had for its body after it was cut down. It may be that the war have compromised the national psyche of the Italian people. Of the three Axis powers, only the Italians who cheered Mussolini when he was victorious, abandoned him totally when the war turned against them. The freckle nature of the people led to a civil war between the Italians as well as with the Germans that created a brutal atmosphere that lingered on after the war. That was made painfully clear by the author as the same people who cheered Mussolini during Italy's days in the sun, hypercritically abused his body after his death. The book explored the nature of this treatment and its consequences.

Overall, a well written book about a subject matter that haven't been explored in detail by the English speaking world. Its fitting that an Italian author choose to explored this event that in some way, shed new lights on Benito Mussolini's influence on Italian people and nation.
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