Mark Gilbert, "Italy Reborn: From Fascism to Democracy" (Norton, 2024)


Italy's resurrection from 20 years of fascism, three years of war, and two years of civil war is one of the 20th century's great, under-told stories. It's a history of a decade of clashes and compromises between two mass movements - Communism and Christian Democracy - backed offstage by two superpowers.

Above all, it's about the party management of one man - Palmiro Togliatti - and the West-facing vision and cunning of another, Alcide De Gasperi. From the ashes of war, De Gasperi chose a republican government and a market economy, resisted pressure from the Vatican to ally with the far right, and wooed the Americans while acknowledging the unique organisational powers of the Communists until picking the right time to drop them. On top of that, he won Marshall Aid, drove through land reform, and helped found the European communities.

As Professor Gilbert writes in Italy Reborn: From Fascism to Democracy (Norton, 2024): "One need only envision what might have happened had De Gasperi failed to make even one of those calls to see how much his agency mattered for Italy's transition to democracy".

Mark Gilbert is C. Grove Haines Professor of History and International Studies at SAIS Europe in Bologna. Educated at Durham and the University of Wales, he taught history at the universities of Trento and Bath before joining SAIS.

Tim Gwynn Jones is an economic and political-risk analyst at Medley Advisors, who also writes the twenty4two newsletter on Substack.

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Tim Jones

Tim Gwynn Jones is an economic and political-risk analyst at Medley Advisors .

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