Mussolini's Shadow: The Double Life of Count Galeazzo Ciano

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9780300209563: Mussolini's Shadow: The Double Life of Count Galeazzo Ciano

Married to Benito Mussolini's favourite daughter Edda, young Count Galeazzo Ciano (1903-44) became il Duce's confidant, emissary, and heir apparent in the years preceding the Second World War. Appointed foreign minister in 1936, Ciano played a central role in the Axis partnership negotiations with Hitler and von Ribbentrop and masterminded Italy's invasions of Albania and Greece. But Ciano came to disagree with his father-in-law over Italy's partnership with Germany, and he joined with other dissident Fascists plotting to remove Mussolini from office. Ciano was found guilty of treason and, despite desperate attempts to trade his sensational diaries for his life, was shot. This is the first biography of Ciano in English, and it is based in part on those diaries, smuggled by Edda out of the country in her own dramatic escape. 'Mussolini's Shadow' peels away much of the mystery of the Fascist era, provides an eye-opening account of the ruling figures of Germany and Italy, and offers a close-up view of the daily workings of the Mussolini regime. Count Ciano's story is that of a highly intelligent man - but one also frivolous, arrogant and overbearing - whose short life was characterised by espionage, intrigue, sexual scandal, assassination, and the abuse of power. As a leading player in Italy's alliance with Germany, Ciano gambled disastrously with his own fate and with that of his country. Ray Moseley is chief European correspondent for the 'Chicago Tribune'. He has lived in Europe for many years, including five years in Rome, and was runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize in international reporting in 1981.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

A lively account of the life of Galeazzo Ciano, fascist Italys Foreign Minister and Mussolini's son-in-law. Bred in aristocratic circles, Ciano was raised in the nationalistic milieu of his fascist father, Costanzo Ciano, a veteran of the March on Rome. The younger Ciano rose through the diplomatic ranks rapidly, married Edda Mussolini in 1930, and was appointed Foreign Minister by the Duce in 1936. Ciano aped the bombastic speech and devil-may-care antics of his father-in-law, whom he greatly admired. He was a captain in the Italian Air Force and participated in bombing raids in the Italo-Ethiopian War, the Spanish Civil War, and the 1940 Greek Campaign. Although he acted as a restraint on the Duce at times, Ciano was largely responsible for the fiasco in Greece (where the Italian army was embarassed by the staunch resistance of tough Greek troops). Italian losses were considerable, and shortly after the Greeks pushed the Italians back into Albania, Hitler sent German divisions to the aid of Italy. Ciano's Janus-like relationship with the Germans is discussed at length: he could never quite resolve his disgust at the barbarity of the ``Huns,'' as he called them, but he risked his life and that of his country in the Pact of Steel alliance with Nazi Germany in the hope of sharing in the spoils of war. His relationship with Mussolini strained over time. He was instrumental in the Fascist Grand Council's vote of no confidence in the Duce, which led to King Victor Emmanuel III's removal and arrest of the dictator. Arrogant and foolish to the end, Ciano fled to Germany, of all places, despite his fear of the Nazis. There he was handed over to the fascists and put to death by Mussolini's Italian Social Republic in January 1944. In general, Moseley weaves a good biographical narrative, but there is a tendency to rely too much on the testimony of participants (such as Ciano's diaries and Edda's memoirs). Events and interpretations are not always weighed by documentary evidence nor placed within the larger diplomatic context. A highly readable life, leaving room for the work of other biographers. (26 b&w photos) -- Copyright ©2000, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

Italian Fascist leader Galeazzo Ciano was convinced that he was loved by Italians when in reality he was, according to Moseley, "the most hated man in Italy." Moseley, chief European correspondent for the Chicago Tribune, tells the tale of the rise and fall of this man, who believed he was Mussolini's heir apparent. A vain, frivolous and corrupt bon vivant immersed in Roman aristocratic society, Ciano was married to Edda Mussolini, Il Duce's favorite child. He rose rapidly through the ranks of the Fascist hierarchy: by 1936, when Italy was winding down the Ethiopian War and preparing to intervene in the Spanish Civil War, Ciano had become foreign minister, at the age of 32. But in 1943, the Allies were invading Italy, and Ciano was wary of continuing Italy's alliance with Germany: in July of that year, as a member of the Fascist Grand Council, Ciano voted against his father-in-law in a coup d'?tat. For this act, he was arrested, tried and executed (despite Edda's poignant appeals to her father). Moseley suggests here that the greatest tragedy of Ciano's life was that he lacked the moral and political courage to break with Mussolini and Fascism back in 1939, when he began to have his first doubts about the Nazi alliance and the war. Moseley has reconstructed Ciano's infamous life with a great deal of humanity (portraying him as a caring husband and loving father), while still showing his ruthless side (he assassinated political enemies). Using a range of secondary sources, including documents from the National Archives in Washington, D.C., interviews and, most extensively, Ciano's richly detailed diaries, Moseley reconstructs the dark world of Italian Fascism, adding an important new dimension to the study of its internal workings. 26 b&w photos. (Mar.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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