Author(s): Nicholas Farrell
Of the four great European dictators of the 20th century, Mussolini remains the least known. The last major, non-academic life, by Denis Mack Smith, has been in print for 20 years, but since its publication much new material has emerged, particularly letters. However it is a minefield for any historian as there have been many attempts to falsify the record with forged material. Nicholas Farrell was a DAILY TELEGRAPH journalist in the second half of the 1990s and spent time investigating the forgeries and writing about the resurgence of Mussolini's reputation, fifty years after his death. Whereas Mack Smith painted Mussolini as a dyed-in-the wool villain, Farrell takes a different view. He is more positive, and he shows how Italy was changed very much for the better until Mussolini's final and disastrous decision to join the Axis and support Hitler. Could he have followed Franco's example and stayed on the sidelines? It is one of the questions Farrell examines. This new life of Mussolini also launches a talented biographer.