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A Bold and Dangerous Family: The Remarkable Story of an Italian Mother, Her Sons, and Their Fight Against Fascism

Category: Book
By (author): Moorehead, Caroline
  HISTORY / Europe / Italy
  HISTORY / General
  HISTORY / Military / World War II
Publisher: Knopf Random Vintage Canada
Published: August 2017
Format: Book-paperback
Pages: 432
Size: 9.25in x 6.25in
Our Price:
$ 25.95
Available to order

Additional Notes

From The Publisher*From the bestselling author of A Train in Winter, the story of the Rosselli family, whose courage standing up to Mussolini's fascism helped define the path of Italy in the years between the World Wars.

"I had a house: they destroyed it. I had a newspaper: they closed it. I had a university chair: I was forced to abandon it. I had--as I still do--dreams, dignity, ideals: to defend them I was sent to prison. I had teachers: they murdered them."
--Carlo Rosselli on Italy's fascist regime
     Italy's Rosselli family were members of the cosmopolitan, cultural elite in Florence at the start of the 20th century. Led by their fierce matriarch, Amelia Rosselli, they were also vocal anti-fascists. As Mussolini rose to power in Italy following WWI, the Rossellis took leading roles in the rebellion against him, a stance that few in their class would risk. And when Mussolini established a police state whose tactics grew more brutal, the Rossellis and their anti-fascist friends transformed from debaters and critics into activists.
     As punishment for their participation in revolutionary activities, the Rossellis' homestead was ransacked, one after another of their number was imprisoned, others in the family fled the country to escape a similar fate, and two were eventually assassinated on the orders of Mussolini's government. After the outbreak of WWII, Amelia fled with the remaining members of the Rosselli family to New York City. Their visas were arranged by Eleanor Roosevelt herself.
     Through the stories of these brave people and their friends, renowned historian Caroline Moorehead delivers an immersive picture of Italy in the first half of the 20th century. She reveals the rise and fall of Mussolini and his black-shirted Squadristi; the ambivalence of many prominent Italian families to Mussolini and their seduction by his promises; and the bold, fractured anti-fascist movement, so many of whose members died at Mussolini's hands. Continuing "The Resistance Quartet" she began with A Train in Winter and continued with Village of Secrets, Moorehead once again shows us the faces of those who helped the world hold on to its humanity at a time when it seemed all might be lost.

"Riveting." -The New Yorker

"Moorehead tells fascinating stories of hardship and hope, bad luck and good, while detailing the close calls and the bravery of those standing up and doing what they felt was right in order to spare the lives of hundreds of fellow humans, no matter their religion." -Winnipeg Free Press

"[Moorehead's] book . . . is riven with complexity. . . . Her war is not so much about heroes and monsters. Instead, she sees ordinary people responding in different ways to a world of cruelty." -The Daily Telegraph 

"Moorehead does an expert job in pulling together testimonies from survivors to filter myths and memories from fact to retell an extraordinary tale." -Daily Mail
"The story has been told before, but. . . . Caroline Moorehead's retelling is broader and more nuanced. . . . Vivid narrative. . . . It's a rich, haunting account that leaves us with an uncomfortable question: What might have happened if more people had refused to go along?" -StarTribune
"Compelling and deeply informed. . . . [Moorehead] has done us the great service of unveiling the real lives behind the myth and in demonstrating that fallible human beings are far more interesting and dramatic figures than those who make up the stuff of legends." -The New York Times
"Moorehead not only recounts the heroics but also the everyday ordinariness of those involved, busting the embellished mythology while emphasizing the essential humanity of the entire operation." -Booklist
"Gripping. . . . Rigorously researched and well-balanced." -The Guardian


"[Moorehead] knows how to grip the reader's attention and haunt their dreams. . . . [She] is unafraid to look into the darkest corners of the world and make us want to look too." -Daily Telegraph

"The breadth of Moorehead's reporting is impressive, the intimate glimpses of struggle and resilience indelible." -O, The Oprah Magazine
Biographical NoteCAROLINE MOOREHEAD is the author of the international bestsellers A Train in Winter and Village of Secrets, nominated for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction. She has also written biographies of Bertrand Russell, Freya Stark, Iris Origo, Lucie de la Tour du Pin and Martha Gellhorn. Well-known for her work in human rights, she has published a history of the Red Cross and a book about refugees, Human Cargo. The author lives in London, UK.