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Silvio Berlusconi: Television, Power and Patrimony
"[A] penetrating and disquieting book....Berlusconi's dismal record in government, especially on the economy, and his increasingly strained relations with his coalition partners in the war against Iraq may yet bring him down. But he is nothing if not a survivor, and Paul Ginsborg's masterly study highlights the danger of underestimating him." Christopher Duggan, The Times Literary Supplement (read the entire Times Literary Supplement review)
Synopses & Reviews
Silvio Berlusconi, a self-made man with a taste for luxurious living, owner of a huge television empire and, most recently, the man who likened a German MEP to a Nazi concentration-camp guard — small wonder that much of democratic Europe and America has responded with considerable dismay and disdain to his governance of Italy. Paul Ginsborg, contemporary Italy's foremost historian, explains here why we should take Berlusconi seriously.
His new book combines historical narrative — Berlusconi's childhood in the dynamic and paternalist Milanese bourgeoisie, his strict religious schooling, a working life which has encompassed crooning, large construction projects and the creation of a commercial television empire — with careful analysis of Berlusconi's political development. While never forgetting the italianita of Berlusconi's trajectory, he argues that the Italian example is highly instructive for all modern societies.
What Berlusconi represents — the relationship between the media system and politics, the nature of personal dominion at a time of crisis in representative democracy, the connection between the consumer world, families and politics, and the exploitation of the wide-open spaces left by the strategic weaknesses of modern left-wing politics — are, Ginsborg suggests, near-universal.
"Having had the misfortune of more than 50 governments in the postwar era, Italy is often seen as the politically bumbling least of the great powers, thus obscuring the significance of its current prime minister. With his newest volume, Ginsborg offers an excellent exegesis of the Berlusconi phenomenon. Ginsborg, who teaches history at the University of Florence, is also the author of analyses of postwar Italian history and society, A History of Contemporary Italy and Italy and Its Discontents. Here he does readers a service in pointing out that the Berlusconi phenomenon is not only unprecedented but also a mortal threat to democracy. Ginsborg's short book proceeds chronologically from Berlusconi's shadowy beginnings in the Milan construction business to his leap into television. As Ginsborg convincingly demonstrates, it was Berlusconi's revolutionary rethinking of the staid medium in the 1980s that laid the base for his political trajectory. Most brilliant is chapter five, 'Berlusconi's Project,' where Ginsborg lays bare the political and theoretical underpinnings of what some might call a more benign form of fascism. A concluding chapter examines the possibility and methods of resisting such a regime. This volume offers a succinct explanation of contemporary Italy by a man who has been in the forefront of a new movement, not formally allied to any political party, to restore and reinvigorate democracy in that country. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Mr. Ginsborg's succinct and lucid account is a history of Mr. Berlusconi's trajectory to power and an analysis of how his business interests...and his privatization ideologies form a coherent project for political and cultural dominance." The New York Times
Book News Annotation:
The reason for studying the political biography of Italian Prime Minister and media mogul Silvio Berlusconi go beyond the specific facts of his personal career or even Italian national politics, intimates Ginsborg (history, Florence U., Italy). For him, Berlusconi represents the threat of the rise of new form of fascism, a politico- media regime that may be the prototype for a fascist resurgence in many other industrial democracies. He analyzes how Berlusconi forged his television empire and leveraged that empire into grabbing political power. He then sets Berlusconi's career within the context of left and right politics in Italy and assesses the danger that the Berlusconi phenomenon poses to Italian democracy.
Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
This succinct and lucid account is a history of Mr. Berlusconi's trajectory to power and an analysis of how his business interests ... and his privatization ideologies form a coherent project for political and cultural dominance.
The leading historian of contemporary Italy and animator of civil resistance to Berlusconi, unravels the phenomenon of the media magnate-prime minister, with wit, intelligence and rigour.
About the Author
Author of the highly acclaimed books A History of Contemporary Italy and Italy and Its Discontents, Paul Ginsborg teaches history at Florence University.
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