Silvio Berlusconi, a self-made man with a taste for luxurious living, owner of a huge television empire and the politician who likened a German MEP to a Nazi concentration camp guard—small wonder that much of democratic Europe and America has responded with considerable dismay and disdain to his governance of Italy.
Paul Ginsborg, contemporary Italy’s foremost historian, explains here why we should take Berlusconi seriously. His new book combines historical narrative–Berlusconi’s childhood in the dynamic and paternalist Milanese bourgeoisie, his strict religious schooling, a working life which has encompassed crooning, large construction projects and the creation of a commercial television empire–with careful analysis of Berlusconi’s political development.
While highlighting the particular italianita of Berlusconi’s trajectory, Ginsborg also finds international tendencies, such as the distorted relationship between the media system and politics. Throughout, Ginsborg suggests that Berlusconi has gotten as far as he has thanks to the wide-open space left by the strategic weaknesses of modern left-wing politics.
“Succinct and lucid … this small book has a large agenda: to show what in contemporary Italian culture produced and promoted Berlusconi, as entrepreneur and prime minister, and what might be done to hasten his political end.”—International Herald Tribune
“Carefully researched … a notable contribution.”—Financial Times
“Damning … Ginsborg shows how Berlusconi’s combination of anti-political populism and media power makes him a real threat to democracy.”—Independent
“Ginsborg’s sober, thoughtful book will be of value not only to anyone interested in Italy but to anyone interested in how populist politics, money, and control of the mass media’s reservoir of fantasy can combine to override the democratic process.”—The Nation
“A succinct and lucid account.”—New York Times
“Penetrating and disquieting … A masterly study by the leading British historian of contemporary Italy.”—Times Literary Supplement
“A compelling hatchet job … Admirable precision and succinctness.”—Sunday Times