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The Tailor of Ulm: Communism in the Twentieth Centuryby Lucio Magri
Synopses & Reviews
Twenty years have passed since the Italian Communists’ last Congress in 1991, in which the death of their party was decreed. It was a deliberate death, accelerated by the desire for a “new beginning.” That new beginning never came, and the world lost an invaluable, complex political, organizational and theoretical heritage.
In this detailed and probing work, Lucio Magri, one of the towering intellectual figures of the Italian Left, assesses the causes for the demise of what was once one of the most powerful and vibrant communist parties of the West. The PCI marked almost a century of Italian history, from its founding in 1921 to the partisan resistance, the turning point of Salerno in 1944 to the de-Stalinization of 1956, the long ’68 to the “historic compromise,” and to the opportunity—missed forever—of democratic transformation.
With rigor and passion, The Tailor of Ulm merges an original and enlightening interpretation of Italian communism with the experience of a militant “heretic” into a riveting read—capable of broadening our insights into contemporary Italy, and the twentieth-century communist experience.
"The first of Magri's works to be translated into English is an exhaustive history of 20th-century communism around the world. Magri, who passed away in November 2011, devoted his life to politics and the Italian Communist Party, or PCI (Partito Comunista Italiano). He offers a unique viewpoint on recent history, and shares information that will be new to many Western readers. Magri begins with a review of important historical moments, discussing the events and implications of the Russian Revolution, the rise of the Communist Party, the Cold War, and the Marshall Plan, all of which Magri believes led to a 'bipolar balance of power, involving peaceful competition between two systems and a limitation of military conflict to regional frameworks.' In its heyday — the 1960s — , the PCI 'was part of an international movement that governed a third of the world, within which it had finally achieved autonomy.' But 50 years later, it inexplicably 'wrote itself out of history, with the aim of making a Ã¢Â€Â˜fresh start'' that never came to be. Magri goes on to explain the internal conflict that ultimately led to the defeat of the PCI — 'at the polls and in its relationship to the masses' — , changes in world politics in the 1980s-1990s, and the congressional swan song of the PCI in Ã¢Â€Â˜91. Those with a strong interest in modern history or political movements will find this densely detailed work compelling and thought-provoking. (Jan.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
A fascinating analysis and account of the decline and fall of Western communism by a participant observer.
About the Author
Lucio Magri joined the Italian Communist Party in the mid 1950s. In 1969, he was expelled from the PCI along with the group of dissidents who had founded the journal il manifesto. Active in the Independent Left and the peace movement over the next two decades, Magri became one of the leaders of Rifondazione Comunista in 1991 and the editor of la Rivista del manifesto.
A translator from Romanian, Spanish, German, French, and Italian, Patrick Camiller has translated many works, including Dumitru Tsepeneag’s Vain Art of the Fugue, The Necessary Marriage, and Hotel Europa.
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