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Italy And Its Discontents: 1980 To 2001 New Ed Edition

3.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0140247947
ISBN-10: 0140247947
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A valuable reference for anyone studying or teaching Italian and European politics and society."--W.R. Smith, Choice ."..excellent..."-Alexander Stille, New York Review of Books."..the book is useful and even entertaining."--Laura Collura Kahn, New York Sun ."..his book is valuable...usefully traces the phenomenon of Silvio Berlusconi."--David I. Fulton, Library Journal ."..Complex and fertile with 'thick description', [the book] radiates the paradoxes and ironies that abound in a troubled country."--The New York Times Book Review .".it offers a complete portrayal of the textures of Italian society."--"Publishers Weekly" ""Italy and its Discontents "is a tour-de force. Anyone concerned about the condition of the country will find it packed with material to think about and argue over"--"The Economist"

Book Description

Paul Ginsborg's account of this most recent and dynamic period in Italy's history is essential reading for anyone wishing to understand contemporary Italy. Ginsborg chronicles a period that witnessed a radical transformation in the country's social, economic and political landscape, creating a fascinating and definitive account of how Italy has coped or failed to cope as it moves from one century to the next. With particular emphasis on its role in italian life, work and culture Ginsborg shows how smaller families, longer lives and greater generation crossover have had significant effects on Italian society. Ginsborg looks at the 2000 elections, the influence of the Mafia, the decline of both Communism and Catholicism , and the change in national identity. This is modern history at its best.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin UK; New Ed edition (December 31, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140247947
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140247947
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,615,914 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
Paul Ginsborg's previous book, "A History of Contemporary Italy 1943-1988" is perhaps the best history of the postwar period of any country. It benefited not only from thorough research and fine organization but from a coherent and compelling thesis. Despite the many signs of vitality and progress in the Italian Republic, it faced severe problems in government and society which required urgent and farlasting reform. However, Italian political life was structured in such a way to make sure that reform never happened.
"Italy and Its Discontents" is the sequel. Although at times Ginsborg is somewhat cheery and optimistic, this is a depressing tale. In many ways it is a complex and nuanced tale, as Ginsborg discusses with enviable nuance the strengths and weaknesses of the Italian economy, the decline of the industrial working class and the plague of youth employment, the always persistent "Southern" problem, the clash between mass culture and a rising "civil society," and the many weaknesses of the Italian bureaucracy. He pays particular attention to the changes in the family, the rise of secularism, and the decline of Catholic and Communist cultures. He also discusses the strengths and weaknesses of Italian politics, the complexities of corruption and the mafia, the less than impartial judiciary, and the complexities and failures of political ideologies.
And yet in some crucial ways Ginsborg's tale is very simple. Italian democracy in the 1980s was severely flawed both by corruption and by the success of vested interests in preventing, delaying or diluting vital reforms. The most honest and thoughtful party were the Communists, so much of the energy of its political class was dedicated to making sure they never had power.
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Format: Paperback
I'm of two minds about this book. On the one hand, I appreciate the wealth of information presented in this book. My father came from Italy in 1920 and I have been there many times to see my relatives and those of my wife. I love the country but each time I go I see a very different country. I haven't been there in over ten years and this book was a welcome update.
On the other hand, I hate the way Ginsborg writes. He never lets the reader draw his own conclusions. He prefers to let you know what you should think in advance. I'll choose a small section on the Catholic Church as an example: He starts off by saying "... the Catholic Church in the 1980's and the 1990's communicated messages which, to the outside eye, seemed deeply contradictory." Well, OK but why not present your evidence first and then let the reader decide. He goes on to say that Church under Karol Wojtyla has often been interpreted as "the reassertion... of the traditions of the Polish Church heavily marked,,, by rural millenarianism and the fight for survival against a hostile state."(p. 129). Interpreted how "often" and by whom? I get the part about the "hostile state"( Communist Poland) but what the heck is "rural millenarianism"? Maybe it has "often" been interpreted as asserting "urban millenarianism" or Jansenism or something else. How is the reader to know. But not to worry Mr.Ginsborg tells us that the existence of these elements is "undeniable". I certainly can't deny it because I don't know what he's talking about. On the next page he refers to Pius XII's "brutal" phrase of 1931, "the family is not there to serve society; it is society which is there to serve the family." There are a lot of words that come to mind to describe that statement, "pithy", "simplistic" maybe but "brutal" doesn't immediately jump out.
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Format: Hardcover
This book by professor P. Ginsborg is an excellent, detailed history of contemporary Italy. Starting with the post-war period, it goes all the way to the end of the '80s, taking into account all the changes made in the italian politics, but mostly in the italian society . The analysis of the attitudes, the way of thinking and the way that the italian society operated during that period is particularly interesting.
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Format: Hardcover
Informative but tedious.
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