Benito Mussolini was a brilliant Socialist journalist who in 1914 declared war, put himself at the head if the anti-Socialist movement in Italy, manoeuvred himself into power by 1933 and ruled the country until overthrown in 1943. He was a dynamic but insecure personality, who appeared dictatorial but always had to share power with the military and bureaucratic establishment. Mussolini founded an Empire in Africa and tried to 'make Italians' in his own heroic, war like image, but in fact failed to even control his own family! In June 1940, when France fell, he could not resist joining in the Second World War on the German side, although Italy was not equipped for serious fighting. His rule ended in Military disaster and personal humiliation.
This new biography focuses both on Mussolini's personality and on the way he exercised power, and regards these two issues as closely linked. It sees him as a man with all the talents needed to attain power but few of those needed to exercise it well. This book primarily focuses on how Mussolini had absolutely the wrong personality for a successful political leader.
Introduction Mussolini: Personality and Power 1 Early Years and the Great War 1883–1918 2 Manoeuvres to Power 1918–22 3 Precarious Tenure 1922–4 4 Making the Fascist State 1925–9 5 Targets and ‘Battles’ 1925–35 6 At the Height of his Power? The Regime and the Duce 1929–35 7 The Duce Abroad: Propaganda, Peacemaking and War 1922–36 8 Electing a New People 1936–40 9 The Approach of War 1936–40 10 The Duce at War 1940–3 11 The Years of Captivity 1943–5 Conclusion: Debates Among Historians