Chris Bambery

Beauty and the Inferno

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Roberto Saviano


Roberto Saviano's book Gomorrah, and the subsequent film adaptation, put the global spotlight on the grip that organised crime, the Camorra, holds over Naples and the surrounding region.

The price he paid for that was a death sentence and being forced to live under the protection of the Italian state police in barracks and safe houses.

A Radical History of Britain

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Edward Vallance, Little, Brown; £25

I read this book as the corruption scandal about MPs' expenses reached a climax. It fuelled my mounting frustration at commentators who repeatedly talked of the "very British" reaction to it all, in contrast to those dastardly continentals who'd be storming the palace of Westminster.

What Edward Vallance provides are clear examples of all sorts of officials being dragged out by angry protesters and decapitated on the streets of London.

High Society in the Third Reich

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Fabrice d'Almeida, Polity, £16.99

This book provides a wealth of information about the Nazis and their relationship with the ruling class in Germany. What it shows is that the Nazis did not have the support of most of the ruling class until the final months before they took power, and in some cases after. But from their earliest days they enjoyed a degree of support.

The Bolsheviks in Power

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Alexander Rabinowitch, Indiana University Press, £17.99

The 90th anniversary of the 1917 October Revolution will be seized on as an opportunity to regale us with stories about how the Bolsheviks seized power behind the backs of the Russian masses with Lenin moving to set up a totalitarian state which evolved seamlessly into Stalin's murderous dictatorship.

Brothers in Arm

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Review of 'Fascism's European Empire', Davide Rodogno, Cambridge University Press £60

On the Italian right there is a constant refrain that the inter-war Fascist dictatorship of Benito Mussolini was not genocidal or anti-Semitic, and therefore does not stand comparison with Hitler's Third Reich or Stalin's Russia.

The great strength of Davide Rodogno's Fascism's European Empire, a study of the territories occupied by Mussolini during the Second World War, is that it stresses not how different Italian Fascism was to Nazism but how similar they were.

Rifondazione in Naples

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Round table discussion: a strong movement from below is needed

Chris Bambery and Phil Rushton talked to four activists from Naples just hours after it was confirmed that the centre left had won a majority in both houses of the Italian parliament. Chiara Siani is a member of the national committee of Rifondazione's youth wing. Francesco Locantore is active in Attac Italia. Antonello Zecca is a member of the Naples 18 March Committee for Peace. Fabio Ruggiero is a Rifondazione activist and a supporter of the Sinistra Critica current within the party.

Italy: How Long Can the Party Last?

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Romano Prodi's victory in last month's Italian elections saw the end of one of Europe's most hated right wing governments. But, asks Chris Bambery, can the coalition that beat Berlusconi stand up to the pressure for neo-liberal 'reform'?

The narrow victory of the centre left in last month's Italian elections has served to revive ruling class fears about the future direction of Europe's core economies. While the narrowness of the victory has mainstream political commentators rolling out the usual stereotypes and chuckling, "How typically Italian," the apparent inability of Italy's political classes to force through a package of neo-liberal reforms to the electorate has made right wing "Anglo-Saxon" economists apoplectic with rage and led them to forecast a collapse of the economy.

Springtime of Nationhood

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Review of 'The Siege of Venice', Jonathan Keates, Chatto and Windus £20

Today Venice is one of the great tourist centres of Europe, seemingly more a museum than a living city. Its role as one of the storm centres of the fight for Italian unification is largely forgotten, with little on the islands to remind a visitor of its past heroism.

Rising to the Challenge

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Review of 'Easter 1916', Charles Townshend, Penguin £20

Ever since Easter Monday 1916, when James Connolly gave the order to 'wheel left' and rebel units occupied Dublin's General Post Office, there has been a constant debate about the Easter Rising.

Famously Lenin had to defend the rising from critics in the Bolshevik Party who simply saw it through the prism of its leaders' statements and beliefs, rounding on those who labelled it a 'putsch'.

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