Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
The Body of Il Duce

The Body of Il Duce

Mussolini's Corpse and the Fortunes of Italy

Sergio Luzzatto; Translated by Frederika Randall

Metropolitan Books



A brilliant young historian follows the odyssey of Mussolini's body in an original exploration of the history and legacy of Italian Fascism

Bullet-ridden, spat on, butchered bloody: this was the fate of Il Duce, strung up beside his dead mistress in a Milan square, 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 frenzied, jeering crowd of thousands-one eerily similar to the cheering throngs that had once roared their approval beneath Il Duce's balcony.

In this groundbreaking work, Sergio Luzzatto traces the fortunes of the Fascist dictator's body: from his charisma, virility, and magnetic domination of Fascist parades, to his humiliating execution, the ugly display of his remains, and beyond. Buried, exhumed, stolen, and hidden for ten years, Il Duce's corpse was finally laid to rest, a shrine for fanatical followers. Through this pursuit, Luzzatto shows how in a totalitarian state the body of the ruler comes to incarnate the nation. And from the indignities visited on Mussolini's corpse, Luzzatto crafts a subtle social and intellectual history of a country struggling to become a republic and free itself from the thrall of Fascism.

Elegantly written and stunningly conceived, alive with never-before-published letters, diaries, and reports, The Body of Il Duce cuts a new and compelling path through twentieth-century history.


Praise for The Body of Il Duce

“The hardest working corpse in Italy . . . led an extraordinary afterlife, worthy of a biographer of Luzzatto's enthusiasm and skill.” —The Nation

“Luzzatto, one of Italy's most talented younger historians, has given us a fresh and vivid understanding of bodies, icons, and the legacy and memory of the Fascist dictator.” —Robert O. Paxton, author of The Anatomy of Fascism

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Sergio Luzzatto; Translated by Frederika Randall

Sergio Luzzatto is a professor of modern history at the University of Turin, Italy. He is the author of four works of history, and a regular contributor to the leading Italian dailies La Stampa and Corriere della Sera.

Sergio Luzzatto

Nicoletta Valdisteno

Sergio Luzzatto

Frederika Randall

From the Publisher

Metropolitan Books

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