A brilliant young historian follows the odyssey of Mussolini’s body in an “ingenious” exploration of the legacy of Italian Fascism (The New Yorker)
Bullet-ridden, spat on, strung up in a Milan square: this was the fate of Il Duce, as reviled in death as he was adored in life. With Italy’s defeat in World War II, the cult of Benito Mussolini’s physical self was brought to its grotesque denouement by a jeering crowd of thousands—one eerily similar to the throngs that had once roared their approval beneath his balcony.
In this groundbreaking work, Sergio Luzzatto traces the fortunes of Mussolini’s body from his charismatic domination of Fascist parades to his humiliating execution and beyond, as his corpse was buried, exhumed, stolen, and secreted away for ten years. Through this pursuit, Luzzatto demonstrates how, in a totalitarian state, the ruler’s body comes to incarnate the nation. Elegantly written and stunningly conceived, The Body of Il Duce is a compelling history of a country struggling to free itself from the thrall of Fascism.