This impressive example of scholarly architecture, running to more than 1,000 footnotes and nearly that many pages, was commissioned as a parallel to The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Sir Ivone, long in the service of the Foreign Office, has employed his pen with characteristic British coolness, a real virtue when dealing with the history of a time of great passions. He has made masterful use of a prodigious variety of source materials, weaving essential documentation into the fabric with scarcely the sign of a knot. The chaotic state of Italian power politics, the specific elements in Mussolini's background and complex personality which gave rise to his grinding opportunism and his miserable inferiority complex, the incipient dictator's relationship to Socialism and the Socialist Party at the time the Fascist Party was organized and subsequently, and the curiously macabre intensity with which Italy was torn to shreds by II Duce's personal ambition are the primary subjects of this study. Sir Ivone makes a detailed case for Mussolini's greatness in the Hegelian sense, but indicates with just as much thoroughness why it would be unsatisfactory to let history's verdict go at that. Considering the allegations of Mussolini's implication in a variety of treasonable episodes, Sir Ivone pictures Mussolini as a power-luster afflicted with an incurable streak of optimistic irrationality, whose approach to life, like his newspaper editorials, was ""devoid of logic and not conspicuous for factual accuracy"". An incalculable amount of effort has certainly gone into this; remarkably, the result is a free-flowing text unhampered by pedagogic contrivance.