CARLO ROSSELLI: Socialist Heretic and Antifascist Exile

Stanislao G. Pugliese
Harvard University Press

Winner of the 2000 Premio Internazionale Ignazio Silone

Carlo Rosselli (1899-1937) was one of the most charismatic and influential of European antifascist intellectuals. Born into a wealthy Jewish family, and abandoning a promising career as a professor of political economics, he devoted his considerable fortune and ultimately his life to the struggle against fascism. In 1925, he was instrumental in establishing the first underground antifascist newspaper. While imprisoned for his subversive political activities, he wrote his magnum opus, Liberal Socialism, arguing that socialism was the logical development of the principle of liberty. After a daring escape, he made his way to Paris and became the driving force behind a new political movement, "Justice and Liberty." Rosselli was among the first to arrive in Barcelona after the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, in which he commanded an armed column of volunteers in defense of the Republic. When Italian fascists discovered Rosselli's plot to assassinate Mussolini, they declared him the regime's most dangerous enemy and had him murdered, along with his brother, noted historian Nello Rosselli, on a country road in Normandy.

In this work, the first biography of Rosselli in English, Stanislao Pugliese skillfully interweaves the strands of heresy, exile, and tragedy in Rosselli's life. The drama and drive of his narrative enhance the scholarly contribution that this work makes to modern Italian history and to the study of European anti-fascism.

Stanislao G. Pugliese is Associate Professor of Modern European History at Hofstra University
Visiting Research Scholar at the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies at Columbia University

Harvard University Press ISBN 0-674-00053-6 $35.00
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"Thank you for your book which I found interesting to read. I particularly appreciate the sober style with which you have traced Carlo Rosselli's noble political and human portrait, underlining his extreme refusal to bend to the ideological premises of a regime, and his rejection of its moral and intellectual baseness."
----Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, President of Italy

"An extremely important book . . . doesn't surrender to the seductions of the time and the falsifications that followed."
----Antonio Negri, author of Empire

"Carlo Rosselli--one of the most courageous and interesting figures of Italian anti-fascism--is a rich and overdue subject for a biography . . . Pugliese . . . has done a commendable job of explaining Rosselli's maverick position within European Socialism."
----Alexander Stille, The New York Times Book Review

"It's salutary to be reminded that real heroes once existed, that they once gave up their lives for great causes . . . a welcome addition to our biographical literature . . . [Rosselli's] major theoretical work, Liberal Socialism, grappled with a complex, perhaps impossible task--to unite the best aspects of socialism and liberalism into a coherent whole."
----Dan Cryer, Newsday

"A fine intellectual biography . . . Pugliese's crisp prose delves evenhandedly into every side of Rosselli's life and thought . . . available to a general readership while also displaying the utmost academic vigor."
----David Ward, The Philadelphia Inquirer

"Rosselli was the very portrait of the engaged intellectual . . . and his life resembles a political
thriller . . . Pugliese's study does much to shore up a forgotten legacy: Rosselli is presented as a significant intellectual and political maverick whose vision of a ‘liberal socialism' has much to offer today's dispirited transatlantic left."
----Matthew Price, Lingua Franca

"Pugliese's numerous skills will probably be what strike most readers initially. The most evident of these skills is his capacity for detailed and extensive research . . . [which leads to ] a richness of ironic detail . . .Pugliese's attentive scholarship also illuminates, word by word, Rosselli's masterful use of persuasive language . . . There is also a generously visionary quality to Pugliese's directives for future scholarship."
----Ann Snodgrass, The Boston Book Review

"A clearly written account of the life and times of a non-doctrinaire socialist thinker and antifascist hero . . . through a doctrinal miasma of Marxist orthodoxy, revisionism, and heresy, Pugliese steers with a sure hand and with a lucidity that the subject matter, so vexed and acrimonious, fails to confound. This is, indeed, a scholarly book, but one that is perfectly accessible to the general public, even to someone who has only the sketchiest knowledge of what went on in Italy at the time. The book is a wonderful exception to the usual academic work, where obfuscating language reigns through incompetence or, as it so often appears, through design."
----Katherine A. Powers, The Boston Sunday Globe

"An outstanding intellectual biography . . . sterling quality . . . superlative on many levels . . . an essential read for all those with an interest in the Italian left and antifascist movements, and admirably fills a gap in the literature in English on Rosselli . . . .the serious reader will welcome this book's no-nonsense tone and clearheaded prose . . . sure to become the definitive English-language text on Rosselli's thought."
-----Risa Sodi, Yale University, Italian Culture XVIII, 1, 2000.

"A life of compulsive self-sacrifice . . . a remarkable son of a family of iconoclasts . . . the issues are dramatically delineated."
----Thomas Simpson, The Chicago Tribune

"Genuine insight into complex political, social, and cultural problems that [Rosselli's] life illuminates . . . the book's importance lies . . . in the way it highlights the great socio-historical and moral questions to which Rosselli consecrated his life."
----Frank Rosengarten, Socialism and Democracy

"A solidly researched, well-written and sympathetic study of a major figure in the anti-Fascist struggle."
----Alexander De Grand, The Journal of Modern Italian Studies

"An important contribution to debates in Italian political and intellectual history . . . .a well-written, comprehensive account of one of the most interesting figures of twentieth-century Italy. It will shed light on an important period in Italian political history and give the reader an understanding of some of the recent debates within the Italian left."
----Vincent Della Sala, Italian Politics and Society

"One of the key chapters in Pugliese is his excellent treatment of liberal socialism and why Rosselli was accused of heresy . . . Pugliese's biography, based on the extensive correspondence of the Rosselli family, archival sources and memoirs, provides the fullest account in English of a remarkable man. His strengths and weaknesses are ably assessed."
----John Whittam, Journal of Contemporary History, January 2001

"By the time of his assassination in 1937, Rosselli had already set the foundations for new ways of imagining modern liberal democracies."
----Michael Bronski, The Boston Phoenix

"A scholarly biography of the prominent Italian antifascist intellectual, writer, and activist who was stabbed to death by political assassins in 1937 . . . Pugliese brings to this admiring portrait a formidable variety of tools, including a thorough knowledge of Italian history, language, literature, and landscape . . . [Pugliese's] research is impeccable."
----Kirkus Reviews

"Pugliese does an excellent job of showing how Rosselli took his responsibility of a public
intellectual seriously . . . Pugliese provides a lucid account of political events, ideological disputes and clandestine resistance and brings the context of Rosselli's thinking to life."
----Publishers Weekly

"Highly informative and engrossing. The author is moved by an unconcealed passion for his subject and sympathy for Rosselli himself, but these feelings never interfere with the objectivity of his rigorous intellectual analysis. The result is an intellectually invigorating work that deftly weaves an analysis of Rosselli's ideas into a chronological structure . . . first-class work." ----Society for Italian Historical Studies

"A skillfully told exploration of the issues of totalitarianism and the modern state." August 2000

"Pugliese's biography accompanies us in a fascinating and dramatic story . . . Pugliese's account guides the reader through the circumstances of Italian political culture that constitute the background of Rosselli's life with a broad knowledge and a pleasant prose: there is no aspect of relevant Italian history in his biography of Carlo Rosselli that is not explained and discussed with precision and timely information."
----Franco Andreucci, Università di Pisa,

"An excellent intellectual and political biography of a tragic and engaging figure."
----Choice May 2000

"An excellent monograph . . . Rosselli symbolizes an endless search for a space where politics gets rid of ideology and where freedom becomes a general human experience."
----Vladimir Tismaneanu, Professor of Government and Politics, University of Maryland, author of Fantasies of Salvation: Democracy, Nationalism and Myth in Post-Communist Europe

"A remarkable contribution to modern Italian history and studies of European anti-fascism . . . A perfect biography that is objective and accurate . . . a rigorous intellectual analysis."
----Adina Arsenescu, Contemporanul ideea europeannã, September 21, 2000

"This biography has some incontestable qualities . . . Pugliese makes good use of a vast existing literature on the topic. The result is a portrait of the militant and the intellectual antifascist where few aspects are left unexplored. The author knows how to adroitly mix his narration with a fine analysis of the character's psychological features along with a searching presentation of his domestic and intellectual environment . . . .while convincingly recalling the imperatives and shortcomings of his stubborn and courageous fight against fascism."
Antonio Bechelloni, La Trace (Paris) numéro 13, December 2000.

"Pugliese writes to educate as well as analyze and the book becomes accessible to anyone interested in early 20th century Italy . . . Pugliese speaks to the relevance of [Marx's] thought to today's world, enabling Rosselli's story to transcend historical curiosity."
----Fred Gardaphe, Distinguished Professor of Italian-American Studies, SUNY, Stony Brook

"Reads with the animation of a good detective story and yet is strong as scholarship. Rosselli's life, here presented in a vivid, spirited, and highly accessible narrative, makes for captivating reading, and his political activity is clearly and accurately described."
----Walter L. Adamson, author of Avant-Garde Florence: From Modernism to Fascism

"Professor Pugliese's carefully researched and objective book is a fine contribution to our
understanding of the life and thought of Carlo Rosselli, the brilliant Italian anti-fascist who founded the ‘Justice and Liberty' liberal-socialist movement and courageously fought Mussolini's regime at home and abroad until his brutal assassination during the Spanish Civil War."
----Charles F. Delzell, author of Mussolini's Enemies: The Italian Anti-Fascist Resistance

"Carlo Rosselli is excellent scholarship on an important subject, handled with discerning
intelligence and balanced, reflective judgment, and written in crisp, tight prose."
----John Patrick Diggins, author of Mussolini and Fascism: The View From America

"Well-written, well-researched and up to the best standards of scholarship . . . a fine intellectual history . . . dealing with a dramatic time and a leading character who was not only important, but a romantic idealist . . deserves much attention--especially in our time when romantic idealism has been swept away from the scene by cynical pseudo-realism."
----John Weiss, author of Ideology of Death: Why the Holocaust Happened in Germany

"An important chapter in twentieth-century Italian and European history . . . a compelling individual saga . . . Rosselli offered the most positive synthesis of socialism and liberalism of anyone in the era . . . seems all the more modern against the background of present-day socialism."
----Dan S. White, author of Lost Comrades: Socialists of the Front Generation

"[A] telling contribution to historical scholarship . . . a distinguished historical and literary effort. The reasoning is sound, the style appealing, the story compelling. There are battles that are to be fought in spite of predictable defeat. And Carlo Rosselli undertook such a struggle of ideals with uncommon valor. He was a tragic and heroic figure."
----Ronald S. Cunsolo, author of Modern Italian Nationalism: From its Origins to World War II

"This project is of great importance in establishing in the English-speaking world the considerable contribution made by Rosselli during the period between the wars--a contribution with important consequences for post-war Italian thinking."
----Bernard Semmel, author of Imperialism and Social Reform

"An interesting and well-researched book . . . will prove of interest not only to students of Italian history, Fascism, and Socialism, but to those interested in the intellectual debate on the left and right during the first three decades of the twentieth century."
----Frank Coppa, author of Planning, Protectionism, and Politics in Liberal Italy

"La prima biografia di Rosselli in inglese . . . Il saggio è serio e minuzioso . . . l'itinerario di Rosselli emerge con eloquenza."
----Nello Ajello, La Repubblica, 1 ottobre 2001, pg. 30.

"Uno studioso italo-americano, Stanislao Pugliese, professore di storia alla Hofstra University (Hempstead, NY) ha scritto una biografia intellettuale . . . che si propone di mettere in luce sopratutto il pensiero politico di Rosselli . . . Il saggio di Pugliese . . . aiuta proprio a rimediare sul personaggio."
----Corrado Stajano, Il Corriere della Sera, 11 ottobre 2001, pg. 27.