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Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2008

The Force of Destiny: A History of Italy Since 1796 (Houghton Mi

by Christopher Duggan

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   Italy is a country of many distinct regions, mutually incomprehensible dialects, squabbling political parties and great artistic fertility. The history of Italy is a lot to fit into one book, even if limited to the past two centuries, but British historian Christopher Duggan manages in around 600 well-written pages. One of his persistent themes is the country's doubtful search for identity. Even Mussolini failed. The dictator tried to impose his ideas of Italy on the unruly peninsula but his regime collapsed amid world war and a rancorous civil war exposing many of the country's fault lines. The Force of Destinyis brilliantly concise considering its scope and so readable that anyone with even a general interest in Italy should find it enjoyable.