A dramatic and fascinating biography of the ""courageous, generous, romantic. . . reckless, despotic"" Italian fascist. Italo Balbo started his career as a fascist Black Shirt, gaining national attention as one of the leaders of the famous March on Rome in 1922. But it was as Minister of Aviation that he received worldwide admiration and recognition. A brilliant organizer of mass events, Balbo had a powerful sense of how grand spectacle could make the fascists look good both to the world and to the Italians. He became famous in the US when, in 1933, he led a squadron of planes, flying mostly in formation, from Orbetello to Chicago. This feat earned him a ticker-tape parade in New York, a lunch with F.D.R., and a street named after him in Chicago. Like all good biographers, Segre brings admiration and affection to his character. Balbo, considered by his peers as the model fascist and even by such a critical historian as John Mack Smith as ""the most genuine and gallant of the fascists,"" is that fascinating archetype: the nonintellectual, generous man of action. Though this biography strikes an elegant balance between hagiography and demonology, Balbo comes out ahead.