Politics of the Sword

By Steven C. Hughes,

Book cover of Politics of the Sword: Dueling, Honor, and Masculinity in Modern Italy

Book description

Following its creation as a country in 1861, Italy experienced a wave of dueling that led commentators to bemoan a national “duellomania” evidenced by the sad spectacle of a duel a day. Pamphlets with titles like “Down with the Duel” and “The Shame of the Duel” all communicated the passion…

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Why read it?

1 author picked Politics of the Sword as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

This study of Italian dueling from 1860s unification to 1930s Fascism makes a convincing case that the duel was not some holdover from an aristocratic past, but a modern phenomenon that arose out of liberal politics and a free press. The book covers Italy’s long and active debate about how to curb a practice that clearly violated the law but was rarely ever punished in practice. When I first read this book I was in the middle of my own research, and Hughes was the first writer who seemed to get everything right, or at least to have discovered for…

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