Fascist Modernities: Italy, 1922-1945

“More than a history of Fascist culture, a richly documented and thorough chronicle of the relationship between the regime and culture.” - William Weaver, New York Review of Books

Fascist Modernities: Italy, 1922-1945 (University of California Press: 2001, 2004)

This cultural history of Mussolini’s dictatorship explores the meanings of modernity in interwar Italy. Combining archival research with the analysis of novels and films, this work argues that fascism appealed to many Italian intellectuals as a new model of modernity that would allow economic development without harm to social boundaries and national traditions. It explores the ways that realism engaged many writers and filmmakers as an aesthetic that would reflect this distinctive model of Italian modernity.

Although Fascism did not make good on its claim to refashion Italians, the book contends that twenty years of dictatorship left a legacy of practices and attitudes that continued under different political rubrics after 1945.


“[Ben-Ghiat]…brings attention to the Italian intellectuals’ amnesia about their political responsibilities and their collaboration and compromises with Mussolini’s regime…Thought-provoking and challenging, this book courageously tackles intractable issues in the history of Italian fascism.”

Simonetta Falasca-Zamponi, American Historical Review

“A superb and original work of scholarship, Fascist Modernities give us a startling new picture of the Italian fascist period and its cultural politics, as well as remarkable new analyses of Italian fascist anti-Semitism and of the relation between Italy’s colonial aspirations and conquests and its modernizing schemes.”

Barbara Spackman, University of California, Berkeley.

“Ruth Ben-Ghiat’s book is an important contribution to the history of fascist culture, showing the complex ways in which fascism used intellectuals and intellectuals used fascism.”

Alexander Stille, Columbia Journalism School, author of Benevolence and Betrayal: Five Italian-Jewish Families Under Fascism
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