Roy Palmer Domenico. Remaking Italy in the Twentieth Century. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2002. xiv + 180 pp. $68.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8476-9637-6.
Reviewed by David Ward (Department of Italian Studies, Wellesley College)
Published on H-Italy (August, 2003)
Italy in the Twentieth Century
Italy in the Twentieth Century
Roy Palmer Domenico first became known in the Italianist community as the author of Italian Fascists on Trial, 1943-48. This prize winning book, which was translated into Italian and published by the prestigious Rizzoli company, took the form of a detailed and painstaking analysis of the attempts made in post-World War II Italy to carry out a purge of the fascist personnel who continued to occupy positions of power even after the fall of the regime. His present book, Remaking Italy in the Twentieth Century could not be more different. Whereas Italian Fascists on Trial, 1943-48 focused on five densely-packed years of recent Italian history, his second book seeks to account for an entire century in the space of 180 pages. Considering what these years cover--the crisis of the post-Risorgimento years, World War I, fascism, Resistance to fascism, reconstruction, the economic boom, the repercussions of the collapse of communism, the corruption scandals, and the emergence of Silvio Berlusconi (to mention only the most important events)--Domenico should be congratulated on his conciseness and ability to hone in on the most essential facets of a multi-faceted century.
To give the book focus Domenico has elected to approach the century as a series of conflicts between the at times waning and emerging political forces that are Liberalism, Catholicism, Marxism and Fascism. But, rather than as an in-depth study of the often anomalous status all these -isms had in the context of Italian life, the book is best read as an agile overview of the century, which follows the protagonists in their moments of greatness and/or decline. Chapter One deals with the years of liberal domination of Italian political life and its demise, Chapters Two and Three with the rise and fall of fascism, Chapter Four with the Christian Democratic hegemony of the immediate post-war and boom years, while Chapter Five offers some very brief considerations on the last forty years of Italian history. It is in this last chapter, which is both the shortest and the one that covers the most ground, that we see Domenico batting most valiantly against the book's overall structure. And it is here that the work's limits are most apparent.
By necessity, a book of this kind touches on a myriad of names and places, and is more open than most to error. It is to Domenico's credit that in Remaking Italy in the Twentieth Century, there are next to none. The only glaring error I found appears on page 136. Loris Fortuna, the architect of the law legalizing divorce, is a man, and not as Domenico claims a woman.
In sum, this book is a useful overview of Italy and its history in the twentieth century. Although it is not detailed enough for graduate courses, its level-headed approach certainly make it a very viable and user-friendly door through which newcomers to the field can gain access to the grand contours of Italy in the twentieth century.
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David Ward. Review of Domenico, Roy Palmer, Remaking Italy in the Twentieth Century.
H-Italy, H-Net Reviews.
Copyright © 2003 by H-Net, all rights reserved. H-Net permits the redistribution and reprinting of this work for nonprofit, educational purposes, with full and accurate attribution to the author, web location, date of publication, originating list, and H-Net: Humanities & Social Sciences Online. For any other proposed use, contact the Reviews editorial staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.