100 books like The Fascist Revolution in Italy

By Marla Stone,

Here are 100 books that The Fascist Revolution in Italy fans have personally recommended if you like The Fascist Revolution in Italy. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present

Matthew Dallek Author Of Birchers: How the John Birch Society Radicalized the American Right

From my list on the far-right and its influence in US politics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian and a professor of political management at George Washington University, and I became interested in the John Birch Society when I encountered the group while writing my first book, on Ronald Reagan's 1966 California governor's campaign. I'm also fascinated by debates about political extremism in modern America including such questions as: how does the culture define extremism in a given moment? How does the meaning of extremism shift over time? And how do extremists sometimes become mainstream within the context of American politics? These were some of the puzzles that motivated me to write Birchers

Matthew's book list on the far-right and its influence in US politics

Matthew Dallek Why did Matthew love this book?

Ben-Ghiat limns the traits that characterize authoritarians in modern times.

Drawing a line from Mussolini to Trump, the author guides readers in the authoritarian’s playbook, revealing how dictators corrode democratic norms and undermine institutional restraints on their power. This lucid, well-written history makes you think about dictatorship across time, cultures, and nations.

By Ruth Ben-Ghiat,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Strongmen as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ruth Ben-Ghiat is the expert on the "strongman" playbook employed by authoritarian demagogues from Mussolini to Putin-enabling her to predict with uncanny accuracy the recent experience in America and Europe. In Strongmen, she lays bare the blueprint these leaders have followed over the past 100 years, and empowers us to recognize, resist, and prevent their disastrous rule in the future.

For ours is the age of authoritarian rulers: self-proclaimed saviors of the nation who evade accountability while robbing their people of truth, treasure, and the protections of democracy. They promise law and order, then legitimize lawbreaking by financial, sexual, and…


Book cover of Fascist Spectacle: The Aesthetics of Power in Mussolini's Italy

Joseph Fronczak Author Of Everything Is Possible: Antifascism and the Left in the Age of Fascism

From my list on the worst sort of politics: fascism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historian who wrote a book on antifascism. In a way, I decided to write a book on the history of antifascism because I thought it was a good way to make sense of the history of fascism. Something along the lines of: Nobody knows you like your worst enemies. But I also thought that more books on the history of antifascism itself would be a good thing. There are many books on fascism and relatively few on anti-fascism. Ultimately, I decided to write Everything Is Possible because I thought that the first antifascists had useful lessons to share about how to turn the world toward something better than the one you’ve been given.

Joseph's book list on the worst sort of politics: fascism

Joseph Fronczak Why did Joseph love this book?

This is a dazzling mix of theory, sociology, and history. Falasca-Zamponi is attentive to the myths, rituals, festivals and ceremonies, symbols, and recurring images of Italian fascism—and she is attentive, too, to the political power that Mussolini relentlessly drew from such cultural forms.

With tremendous analytical imagination, Falasca-Zamponi unpacks the significance of the fascist salute, Mussolini’s balcony poses, all the axe-and-bundle imagery, those omnipresent black shirts, and the fascists’ distinctive “passo romano” marching style. For me, the heart of the book is its intense analysis of fascist violence as spectacle. Not just spectacle, though. Falasca-Zamponi also makes the case that for the early fascists violence—“great, beautiful, inexorable violence,” in Mussolini’s words—was sublime, regenerative, glorious, salvific.

The early fascists made violence, Falasca-Zamponi suggests, as if it were art. 

By Simonetta Falasca-Zamponi,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Fascist Spectacle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A cultural history of Italian fascism, this work traces the narrative path that accompanied the making of a regime and the construction of Mussolini's power. The author reads fascist myths, rituals, images, and speeches as texts that tell the story of fascism. Linking Mussolini's elaboration of a new ruling style to the shaping of the regime's identity, she finds that in searching for symbolic means and forms that would represent its political novelty, fascism in fact brought itself into being, creating its own power and history. Falasca-Zamponi aregues that an aesthetically founded notion of politics guided fascist power's historical unfounding…


Book cover of She-Wolf: The Story of a Roman Icon

T. Corey Brennan Author Of The Fasces: A History of Ancient Rome's Most Dangerous Political Symbol

From my list on fascist propaganda.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professor of Classics at Rutgers University, where I’ve taught since 2000; before that, I spent a decade on the faculty of Bryn Mawr College. For three years I served on the staff of the American Academy in Rome, a somewhat frenetic experience that prompted me to shift my focus from ancient Roman history to the history of the city of Rome. Since 2010 I’ve been managing a private family archive in Rome, that of the papal Boncompagni Ludovisi, which covers the period from the early 1400s to the 1940s. Now completely digitized, the archive has much new material to offer, not least on the era of Mussolini, including resistance to his regime.

T.'s book list on fascist propaganda

T. Corey Brennan Why did T. love this book?

When Rome started minting coins for export markets in the third century BCE, one of the first emblems it chose was the she-wolf that, according to legend, suckled the twin infants Romulus and Remus on the site of the city not yet founded. In Italy, almost every generation since then has embraced the animal—as the author explains, “a beast that was Roman and mother, ancient and wild, fearsome and protective”—to communicate pretty much whatever message it wanted. Cristina Mazzoni amply illustrates the indeterminacy of the symbol, which Mussolini leveraged in his propaganda to elicit feelings of both patriotic pride and terror, but still found difficult to control. Case in point: just fifteen years after Mussolini’s death, the wolf with twins became the symbol of the 1960 Rome Summer Olympics.

By Cristina Mazzoni,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked She-Wolf as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Since antiquity, the she-wolf has served as the potent symbol of Rome. For more than two thousand years, the legendary animal that rescued Romulus and Remus has been the subject of historical and political accounts, literary treatments in poetry and prose, and visual representations in every medium. In She-Wolf: The Story of a Roman Icon, Cristina Mazzoni examines the evolution of the she-wolf as a symbol in western history, art, and literature, from antiquity to contemporary times. Used, for example, as an icon of Roman imperial power, papal authority, and the distance between the present and the past, the she-wolf…


Book cover of The Roman Salute: Cinema, History, Ideology

T. Corey Brennan Author Of The Fasces: A History of Ancient Rome's Most Dangerous Political Symbol

From my list on fascist propaganda.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professor of Classics at Rutgers University, where I’ve taught since 2000; before that, I spent a decade on the faculty of Bryn Mawr College. For three years I served on the staff of the American Academy in Rome, a somewhat frenetic experience that prompted me to shift my focus from ancient Roman history to the history of the city of Rome. Since 2010 I’ve been managing a private family archive in Rome, that of the papal Boncompagni Ludovisi, which covers the period from the early 1400s to the 1940s. Now completely digitized, the archive has much new material to offer, not least on the era of Mussolini, including resistance to his regime.

T.'s book list on fascist propaganda

T. Corey Brennan Why did T. love this book?

The raised-arm salute is the most distinctive gesture of 20th-century Fascism and Nazism; in the 21st century, it still thoroughly shocks when spotted. Its origin? Though the so-called “Roman salute” has been widely supposed to date back to classical antiquity, Winkler in a meticulous study demonstrates that it is a modern creation, an anachronism that first consistently cropped up in theatrical contexts (stage and early motion pictures) in the 1890s. Though nonsensical from a historical point of view, “it does make political and ideological sense”, argues Winkler, “to all those who see in the Romans a model for power and might and for glorious conquest of others.” More generally, the book is essential reading on the origins and evolution of Mussolini’s theatricality.

By Martin M. Winkler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Roman Salute as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The raised-arm salute was the most popular symbol of Fascism, Nazism, and related political ideologies in the twentieth century and is said to have derived from an ancient Roman custom. Although modern historians and others employ it as a matter of course, the term “Roman salute” is a misnomer. The true origins of this salute can be traced back to the popular culture of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that dealt with ancient Rome: historical plays and films. The visual culture of stage and screen from the 1890s to the 1920s was chiefly responsible for the wide familiarity…


Book cover of Sawdust Caesar: The Untold History of Mussolini and Fascism

Martin M. Winkler Author Of Arminius the Liberator: Myth and Ideology

From my list on ideological and popular uses of ancient Rome.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am Professor of Classics at George Mason University. I learned about ancient Romans and Greeks in my native Germany, when I attended a humanist high school, possibly the oldest in the country. (It was founded during the reign of Charlemagne, as the eastern half of the Roman Empire was still flourishing.) My mother once informed me that I betrayed my passion for stories long before I could read because I enthusiastically used to tear pages out of books. In my teens I became fascinated with stories told in moving images. I have been a bibliophile and, em, cinemaniac ever since and have pursued both my obsessions in my publications.

Martin's book list on ideological and popular uses of ancient Rome

Martin M. Winkler Why did Martin love this book?

An American journalist, expelled from Italy in 1925, traces roots, rise, and rule of Il Duce in this 1935 book, which is as vivid as its title.

Mussolini appears as a cheap showman, who, “acting the Hero,” revived ancient Roman pomp and spectacles. He was also aware of the power of mass media, especially the cinema, “posing before men and moviemen.”

One of the virtues of Seldes’ book are the extensive quotations, which unmask Mussolini and others in their own words. Fascist documents, quoted at length, include “The Fascist Decalogue” (note its VIII. Commandment!) and the “Fascist Catechism,” which must be read to be (dis)believed.

Seldes’ book has become valuable again in the current age of assorted domestic and foreign media- and image-obsessed demagogues, autocrats, and dictators.

Book cover of The Resistible Rise Of Benito Mussolini

Joseph Fronczak Author Of Everything Is Possible: Antifascism and the Left in the Age of Fascism

From my list on the worst sort of politics: fascism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historian who wrote a book on antifascism. In a way, I decided to write a book on the history of antifascism because I thought it was a good way to make sense of the history of fascism. Something along the lines of: Nobody knows you like your worst enemies. But I also thought that more books on the history of antifascism itself would be a good thing. There are many books on fascism and relatively few on anti-fascism. Ultimately, I decided to write Everything Is Possible because I thought that the first antifascists had useful lessons to share about how to turn the world toward something better than the one you’ve been given.

Joseph's book list on the worst sort of politics: fascism

Joseph Fronczak Why did Joseph love this book?

This ferocious little book is brilliant. It’s as much about how to fight fascism as it is about fascism itself, but it’s still a good place to start figuring out how the fascists came to power in Italy.

The key thing to grasp, Behan insists, is that there was nothing inevitable about Benito Mussolini’s rise (hence the “resistible” in the title, which is also a clever homage to Bertolt Brecht’s classic antifascist allegory, his 1941 play The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui). Behan’s big point is that if the foes of early Italian fascism had all worked together and resisted, they could have smashed fascism before it got going. 

By Tom Behan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Resistible Rise Of Benito Mussolini as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1920 Italy was on the verge of a socialist revolution. Just two years later Benito Mussolini's fascists took power and ushered in an era of repression, war and, ultimately, genocide. In this enthralling book Tom Behan shows how a group of militant anti-fascists came close to stopping Mussolini and changing the course of history. Tragically, their bravery was undermined by a combination of the left's sectarianism and naive faith in the impartiality of the police. "An important and detailed analysis of a period of Italian history which is often ignored" - WSF


Book cover of Bread and Wine

David Hanna Author Of Broken Icarus: The 1933 Chicago World's Fair, the Golden Age of Aviation, and the Rise of Fascism

From my list on the perils of fascism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've found the creep of authoritarianism to be very disquieting. One would have to be willfully blind to not see its manifestations both here and abroad. I wanted to better understand how this phenomenon cast its shadow over the world and I found the '33 Chicago World's Fair an ideal lens to view this through. I've been fascinated by world's fairs since I was a child and the '33 Fair was the first to consciously feature the future. I'm also strangely drawn to this period – if I believed in reincarnation it might provide answers, but I don't. The Zeitgeist just before the full, brutal ugliness of fascism broke over the world, fascinates me.

David's book list on the perils of fascism

David Hanna Why did David love this book?

This famous novel tells the story from the other side, a socialist on the run, in fascist Italy. Certain unforgettable scenes portray the bullying and humiliation at the core of fascism and its human cost. I first read this in college, then re-read it when I was conducting research on Mussolini’s Italy.

By Ignazio Silone,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bread and Wine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Bread and Wine is an anti-fascist and anti-Stalinist novel written by Ignazio Silone. It was finished while the author was in exile from Benito Mussolini's Italy. It was first published in 1936 in a German language edition in Switzerland as Brot und Wein, and in an English translation in London later the same year. An Italian version, Pane e vino, did not appear until 1937.


Book cover of A House in the Mountains: The Women Who Liberated Italy from Fascism

Christina Lynch Author Of The Italian Party

From my list on women in wartime.

Why am I passionate about this?

Doing the research for The Italian Party meant submerging myself in the Cold War Italy of the 1950s. But I found I couldn't understand that period without a better understanding of World War II and Italian Fascism. Cue an avalanche of books from which this list is culled, and the new novel I have just finished. I am drawn to first-hand accounts of women’s lives in wartime because I wonder how I would react and survive such challenges. Recent events in Europe have revived the nightmare of life under an occupying army. These stories are back at my bedside right now because I need their humor and wisdom.

Christina's book list on women in wartime

Christina Lynch Why did Christina love this book?

I could have broken the rules and just listed five books by Caroline Moorehead here. I love her writing; her highly-researched biographies are a joy to read and utterly immersive. I chose A House in the Mountains because it shows me what it’s like to survive the hardscrabble blow-by-blow of daily life under an occupying army, and how you can defeat it. The five women whose lives in the Italian Resistance during WWII she chronicles here are models of courage and creative resistance to tyranny.

By Caroline Moorehead,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A House in the Mountains as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Moorehead paints a wonderfully vivid and moving portrait of the women of the Italian Resistance...an excellent book... She depicts a tragic fate that is timeless, of dreams forged in adversity, shattered by collisions with practical politics' MAX HASTINGS, SUNDAY TIMES

A Spectator Book of the Year

The extraordinary story of the courageous women who spearheaded the Italian Resistance during the Second World War

In the late summer of 1943, when Italy changed sides in the War and the Germans - now their enemies - occupied the north of the country, an Italian Resistance was born. Ada, Frida, Silvia and Bianca…


Book cover of A Bell for Adano

Joseph Guzzo Author Of Mousetrap, Inc.

From my list on inspired me to become a writer and my son a reader.

Why am I passionate about this?

My first job upon graduating from college was working for an invention-marketing firm. This wasn’t my intention; armed with a degree in journalism, I was ready to take on the world. Unfortunately, the country was enduring a recession, and after six months of unemployment, I was happy to be offered a copywriting position. So often during the two years I spent there, I would think to myself, “This could make such a great novel.” It took me a while—and with more than a few rejections along the way—but inspired by the writers and books I’ve included in my collection, I finally got around to penning my own tale.

Joseph's book list on inspired me to become a writer and my son a reader

Joseph Guzzo Why did Joseph love this book?

I was a senior in high school, and my English teacher gave us customized reading recommendations. He thought I might like this book. He had no idea. Though often a serious work—it’s set in World War II Italythis novel exudes charm like nothing I’d ever read. There are books, TV shows, plays, and movies that you may like or even love, but when they charm you? You never forget them. Also, there’s a minor character in the book who shares my last name. I returned the favor in my novel by giving my protagonist the last name Adano.

By John Hersey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Bell for Adano as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This classic novel and winner of the Pulitzer Prize tells the story of an Italian-American major in World War II who wins the love and admiration of the local townspeople when he searches for a replacement for the 700-year-old town bell that had been melted down for bullets by the fascists. Although stituated during one of the most devastating experiences in human history, John Hersey's story speaks with unflinching patriotism and humanity.


Book cover of The Road to San Giovanni

Barney Norris Author Of Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain

From my list on collage novels.

Why am I passionate about this?

My first novel Five Rivers Met On A Wooded Plain was a collage novel; an interweaving of several voices in order to create a composite portrait of the city of Salisbury, which told several stories as a way of revealing more of the life of that place. Since then I’ve written three more novels, all of them interested in the effects of using different voices to tell different parts of the story. I think that polyphony makes for great books, and these are four examples of that—different ways of weaving multiple tales together.

Barney's book list on collage novels

Barney Norris Why did Barney love this book?

Calvino, like Perec, was an experimental novelist, interested in imposing games and rules on what he created. Here, he took the convention of the short story collection and used it to dramatise the arrival of the twentieth century into rural Italy—the machine age, but also the fascist age, and the consuming fires of the Second World War. The incremental tension that comes from time passing is a powerful reading experience.

By Italo Calvino, Tim Parks (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Road to San Giovanni as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In five elegant autobiographical meditations Calvino delves into his past, remembering awkward childhood walks with his father, a lifelong obsession with the cinema and fighting in the Italian Resistance against the Fascists. He also muses on the social contracts, language and sensations associated with emptying the kitchen rubbish and the shape he would, if asked, consider the world. These reflections on the nature of memory itself are engaging, witty, and lit through with Calvino's alchemical brilliance.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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