A vivid portrait of resistance in dark, perilous times that is not without contemporary relevance.

A history of the Italian family who mounted an intrepid campaign against Mussolini.

After World War I, fascism took hold in war-torn Italy, culminating in the rise of 39-year-old Mussolini as the nation’s youngest prime minister. In 1922, supported by the royal family, the Vatican, and about 25,000 well-trained Blackshirts, Mussolini, demanding “full powers” to lead, faced weak opposition by socialists, communists, and liberals. In an absorbing, well-documented narrative, historian Moorehead (Village of Secrets: Defying the Nazis in Vichy France, 2014, etc.) focuses on the Rosselli family—brothers Carlo and Nello and their mother, Amelia—who became tireless leaders of an anti-fascist movement that grew in strength as Mussolini’s reign of terror intensified. “Fascism,” writes the author, “quickly spread its tentacles over the fabric of Italian life. The army, the aristocracy, the Church and industry, all were rallying to defend the rights of a usurper.” Drawing on thousands of family letters as well as biographies of Mussolini and histories of the period, Moorehead powerfully depicts the family’s anger and despair as Italy succumbed to what Carlo called “an enormous black plague.” Although at first some anti-fascists hoped that Mussolini, who was “boastful, vain, cruel and erratic,” would fail on his own, it soon became clear that they needed to wage a real battle. By 1927, Mussolini had abolished elections and installed himself as minister “of foreign affairs, of the interior, of war, of the navy and air force, and of corporations.” Textbooks were rewritten and journalists fired if they showed “aversion” to fascism. Anti-fascists grew stronger, with Carlo standing as “the most prominent leader of the non-communist anti-fascist opposition.” The author chronicles the efforts by Carlo and Nello that led to repeated arrests and incarcerations on Italy’s prison islands. When he was released, Carlo took up a frantic pace of writing and speeches, traveling to Paris, London, and, during the Spanish Civil War, Spain. Constantly in Mussolini’s cross hairs, the brothers finally were assassinated: 200,000 people followed their funeral procession.

A vivid portrait of resistance in dark, perilous times that is not without contemporary relevance.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-230830-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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