April 28, 1945-Benito Mussolini and his mistress Clara Petracci are murdered and their bodies are hung upside down in the Piazzale Loreto square in Milan, Italy. His death marks an end to one of the most controversial eras in the history of Italy. The former leader of the fascist movement that dragged the nation into the second world war had been removed from office for several years and become one of the most despised leaders in Europe. However to the end he retained numerous supporters and could have led his country down a different course far removed from the course taken by Germany under the personification of evil himself, Adolf Hitler.
There are hundreds of books on the war and a large number cover Nazi Germany but with this book, the Duce is given a platform to share his own story and the reasons behind his decisions. The first part of the book was written in 1928 and in it we learn about Mussolini’s background and his rise to power. Finding himself removed from office, it is following this point in his life that we are introduced to the second part, his fall, edited by Max Ascoli. It begins with his arrest and confinement and continues with his rescue by German forces in a daring day time raid. In spite of this he would never again rule Italy and his ousting remains an often discussed topic in World War II history.
Like all leaders of the past, he was a complex figure who wore many hats. A former teacher, journalist and pilot, he used his past experiences as he set about to change the course of Italian history. And perhaps if he had never met Adolf Hitler, his name and legacy would have different connotations attached to them. Mussolini isn’t here to defend himself or give more insight into his decisions and action. but his life and death remain some of the most important moments of the 20th century.