Italo Balbo. A Fascist Life; & The Italians and the Holocaust

Two books on Italian Fascism and racism

Martin Blinkhorn | Published in
  • Italo Balbo. A Fascist Life
    Claudio C. Segre - University of California Press, 1987 - xvi + 466 pp.
  • The Italians and the Holocaust: Persecution, Rescue and Survival
    Susan Zuccotti - Basic Books, Harper & Row, 1987 - xviii + 334 pp.

Italo Balbo represented the ideal of the new fascist man: dashing and courageous, ruthless and violent, administratively competent and personally honest, fiercely patriotic and aggressively 'modern'. The 'fascist life' recounted by Claudio Segre was a brief one of forty-four years, during which Balbo made his mark as youthful First World War veteran; Mazzinian republican turned anti-socialist squadrista and ras; militia leader and fascist 'consul'; heroic aviator and 'father of the Aeronautica'; colonial governor and developer of Italy's Libyan 'fourth shore'; and Second World War commander, killed in 'action'. With his combination of 'boyish charm' and 'provincial boorishness', Balbo dominated his fief of Ferrara for seventeen years, transformed first the air force and then the Libyan colony, and was one of the few leading fascists frequently to stand up to Mussolini. Even in death, shot down by one of his own anti-aircraft batteries, Balbo epitomised fascism, albeit hardly in a way he would have wished.

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