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Mussolini's Shadow: The Double Life of Count Galeazzo Ciano Hardcover – February 9, 2000
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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.
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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Top customer reviews
How did Ciano fall out of favor so fast? One can only believe that once he was sure he would not replace Mussolini as the next leader of Italy, (Mussolini told people that there would be no hereditary pass down of power in Italy), he was going to try to engineer the down fall of his own hero and father-in-law. I think that's one of the main keys to this mans behavior. So, plan B was put into place, destroy Mussolini reputation in the eyes of his own political party, and the Italian people who were all ready tired of Mussolini's war. Ciano could see himself in the coveted role of hero, the man who saved Italy form the monster Mussolini. Unfortunately for him, he had to many enemies at this point. One always gets the feeling Ciano was the first guy to jump on a band wagon when things were going good, and he was the first to jump off of it when things got bad. I also think he would be the first one to say, "I told you so" either way the wind was blowing. I did think he finally took a stand, but it was about him. What he could get out of it. This was pretty well know in Italy, and he was reviled for his attitude.
No one would have considered the vain, insipid man as the next leader of Italy, especially a man named Hitler.
If you are looking for juicy stories of Sex, power and violence, and a group of shallow people who were caught up in it, this is the book to read.
The book is impeccably researched and produced.