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The Pursuit of Italy

A History of a Land, its Regions and their Peoples

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The book that explains the whole extraordinary course of Italian history like no other in English

The Pursuit of Italy traces the whole history of the Italian peninsula in a wonderfully readable style, full of well-chosen stories and observations from personal experience, and peopled by many of the great figures of the Italian past, from Cicero and Virgil to Dante and the Medici, from Cavour and Verdi to the controversial political figures of the twentieth century. The book gives a clear-eyed view of the Risorgimento, the pivotal event in modern Italian history, debunking the influential myths which have grown up around it.

Gilmour shows that the glory of Italy has always lain in its regions, with their distinctive art, civic cultures, identities and cuisine and whose inhabitants identified themselves not as Italians, but as Tuscans and Venetians, Sicilians and Lombards, Neapolitans and Genoese. This is where the strength and culture of Italy still comes from, rather than from misconceived and mishandled concepts of nationalism and unity. This wise and enormously engaging book explains the course of Italian history in a manner and with a coherence which no one with an interest in the country could fail to enjoy.

David Gilmour is one of Britain's most admired and accomplished historical writers and biographers. His previous books include The Last Leopard : A Life of Giuseppe di Lampedusa (winner of the Marsh Biography Award) Curzon (Duff Cooper Prize) and Long Recessional:The Imperial Life of Rudyard Kipling (Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography).

From Publishers Weekly

15 August 2011 – By 1861, the Kingdom of Italy was formally proclaimed, and it included the territories of Parma, Modena, Tuscany, most of Lombardy, most of the Papal States, and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. Yet, as acclaimed historian Gilmour points out in this absorbing history , many individuals living in the various regions of the new nation regarded unification with suspicion and continued to think of themselves as Tuscans or Sicilians or Neapolitans or Venetians. In captivating prose, Gilmour chronicles the history of Italy by exploring the many Italies that compose the peninsula. For example, Virgil believed that the country was a place of extraordinary diversity, but that its strength lay in unity in diversity; for him, Roman Italy was not a glorified city-state but an entity that resembled a nation, a territory of shared values and experiences. Augustus, on the other hand, believed Italy was not a cohesive unit but an administrative convenience; he divided this unit into 11 regions whose ethnic unity he carefully preserved. The great Roman orator, Cicero, thought of Rome as his homeland as a citizen, but called the region of his birth his ancestral homeland. Through reflections on his travels to Italy’s many regions, Gilmour discovers that essential Italy remains the Italy of its communes. In Italy, the parts of the nation are greater than its whole, so that a single region, such as Tuscany or the Veneto, could rival every other country in the world in the quality of its art and the civilization of its past. In the case of Italy, though, the parts have not added up to a coherent or identifiable whole. Gilmour’s compelling look into Italy’s past as a way of understanding its present offers a fascinating glimpse of the failures and triumphs of the country.
The Pursuit of Italy
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  • 9,49 €
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Europe
  • Published: 03 March 2011
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Print Length: 480 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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