Allen Lane

The Pursuit of Italy

The book that explains the whole wild course of Italian history like no other in English

David Gilmour

A History of a Land, its Regions and their Peoples

Visiting a villa built by Lorenzo de Medici outside Pisa, David Gilmour fell into conversation about the unification of Italy with a distinguished former minister: 'You know, Davide,' he said in a low conspiratorial voice, as if nervously uttering a heresy, 'Garibaldi did Italy a great disservice. If he had not invaded Sicily and Naples, we in the north would have the richest and most civilized state in Europe'. After looking round the room at the other guests, he added in an even lower voice, 'Of course to the south we would have a neighbour like Egypt'.

Was the elderly Italian right? In Pursuit of Italy traces the whole history of the Italian peninsula since the Romans - concentrating particularly on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries - in a wonderfully readable style, full of well-chosen stories and observations from personal experience, and peopled by many of the great figures of the Italian past. Gilmour shows that the glory of Italy has always lain in its regions, with their distinctive civic cultures, cuisine, art and identities. This, he argues, is where the strength of Italy lies rather than in misconceived ideas of unity.

David Gilmour is the author of numerous works of literary and political history, including Curzon: Imperial Statesman and The Long Recessional: The Imperial Life of Rudyard Kipling. He lives in Oxfordshire with his wife and four children.


Pub Date: March, 2011
ISBN: 9781846142512
Price: £25.00
Format: 234 x 153mm hb
Extent: 480pp
Territory: 1BCKZ

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