Below is a selection of resources as prepared by Dr Barbara Pezzotti. I attended her course, Commemorating and Celebrating: World War II Kiwi soldiers in Italy.
Italy - general
R.J.B. Bosworth, The Italian Dictatorship. Problems and Perspectives in the Interpretations of Mussolini and Fascism, London: Edward Arnold, 1998.
Nick, Carter: Modern Italy in Historical Perspective. London: Bloomsbury, 2010.
Martin Clark: Modern Italy, Harlow and London: Pearson Longman, 2008. In the third edition of this classic text, Calrk traces the political, social, cultural and economic history of Italy from its formation to the fall of Berlusconi.
Cooke, Philip: The Legacy of the Italian Resistance, Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave McMillan, 2011
Christopher Duggan: Fascist Voices. An Intimate History of Mussolini’s Italy. Paperback. London: Vintage (2012). Explores how ordinary people experienced fascism on a daily basis; how its ideology influenced politics, religion and everyday life to the extent that Mussolini’s legacy still lingers in Italy today. Winner of the Wolfson History Prize. Available public libraries, bookshops (Unity), online bookstores and on Kindle.
David Gilmour: The Pursuit of Italy. London: Allen Lane (2011). Public library, bookshops and Kindle. ‘A highly idiosyncratic meander through the peninsula’s history led by a witty guide with an elegant prose style’ (Sunday Telegraph). Available at public libraries, possibly Unity Bookshop and on Kindle.
Alexander, De Grand: Italian Fascism: Its Origins and Development, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2000. Available in online bookstores.
Simonetta, Falasca-Zamponi: Fascist Spectacle. The Aesthetics of Power in Mussolini’s Italy. Oackland: University of California Press, 1997. Online bookstores.
New Zealanders, Italy and the Second World War
John Gordon (Ed) A Job to Do. New Zealand soldiers of ‘The Div’ write about their World War Two. Auckland: Exisle (2014). Tells the stories of the 2 New Zealand Division in their own words as they fought their way through Greece, Crete, North Africa and Italy. Illustrated by a host of photos and cartoons of the era. Available in bookshops (Unity), public libraries, online bookshops and on Kindle.
Alan Henderson, David Green and Peter Cooke: The Gunners. A History of New Zealand Artillery. Auckland: Raupo (2008).
Megan Hutching (Ed) A Fair Sort of Battering. New Zealanders Remember the Italian Campaign. Auckland: HarperCollins (2004). Based on oral histories. Available public libraries.
Susan Jacobs: Fighting with the Enemy. New Zealand POWS and the Italian Resistance. Penguin Global (2004). The stories of some of the NZ POWs who escaped provide an insight into the Italian Resistance, its heroism, sacrifice and impact. Moving and exhilarating - shows the human side of war. Available public libraries, online bookstores.
Susan Jacobs: In Love and in War. Kiwi soldiers’ romantic encounters in wartime Italy. Auckland: Penguin (2012) Insightful analysis of the social impact NZ troops and Italian society had on each other. Available public libraries, online bookstores.
Robin Kay: Italy Volume 2: From Cassino to Trieste. Wellington: Historical Publications Branch (1967). Available http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scharly/tei-WH2-2Ita.html
Ian McGibbon: New Zealand and the Second World War. The People, the Battles and the Legacy. Auckland: Hodder Moa Beckett (2003).
Gavin McLean and Ian McGibbon (Eds) The Penguin Book of New Zealanders at War. North Shore: Penguin Books (2009). Covers NZ experiences in all wars. The focus is on actual experience and on human responses to war. Available public libraries and on Kindle.
NC Phillips: Italy Volume 1: The Sangro to Cassino. Wellington: Historical Publications Branch (1957). Available http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scharly/tei-WH2-1Ita.html
Christopher Pugsley: A Bloody Road Home. World War Two and New Zealand’s heroic second division. Penguin Books New Zealand (2014). Great account of the division from tactical and leadership level to the experiences of everyday soldiers. Available bookshops, public libraries.
Monty Soutar: Nga Tama Toa: The Price of Citizenship – C Company 28 (Māori Battalion) 1939–1945. Auckland: David Bateman (2008).
David Stafford: Endgame 1945. The Missing Final Chapter of World War 11. New York: Back Bay Books (2007). Focuses on the final three months of WW2. Emerses us in the lives of nine men and women who witnessed first hand the Allied struggle to finish the terrible game. Not just about Italy but helpful to see events in Italy in the context of what was happening elsewhere in Europe. Gripping. Available public libraries, bookshops, online bookstores and on Kindle.
Matthew Wright: Italian Odyssey. New Zealanders in the Battle for Italy 1943–45. Auckland: Reed Books (2003). Illustrated account of the New Zealand campaign in Italy. ‘Ultimately the question is not whether New Zealand failed [at Monte Cassino] – but how they achieved as much as they did under the circumstances.’ Available public libraries.
Aristotle Kallis: The Third Rome, 1922-43: The Making of the Fascist Capital, Palgrave McMillan, 2014.
Gordon Thomas, The Pope's Jews: The Vatican's Secret Plan to Save Jews from the Nazis, Thomas Dunne Books, 2012. Accused of being “silent” during the Holocaust, Pope Pius XII and the Vatican of World War II are now exonerated in Gordon Thomas’s newest investigative work, The Pope's Jews. Thomas’s careful research into new, first-hand accounts reveal an underground network of priests, nuns and citizens that risked their lives daily to protect Roman Jews. Investigating assassination plots, conspiracies, and secret conversions, Thomas unveils faked documentation, quarantines, and more extraordinary actions taken by Catholics and the Vatican. The Pope's Jews finally answers the great moral question of the War: Why did Pope Pius XII refuse to condemn the genocide of Europe's Jews?
Glyn Harper and John Tonkin: Battles of Monte Cassino. The campaign and its controversies. Allen and Unwin (2013). A New Zealand perspective, draws on new material – worth reading. Available public libraries, online bookshops and on Kindle.
Matthew Parker: Monte Cassino. The story of the hardest-fought battle of World War Two. London: Headline (2003). Considered an outstanding example of military history. Available public libraries, online bookshops and on Kindle.
Stefano Fusi (Ed) To the Gateways of Florence. New Zealand Forces in Tuscany 1944. Auckland: Libro International (2009). Recounts the role played by the 28th Maori Battalion and the 23rd Infantry Battalion in liberating Tuscan towns – and Florence. Excellent photographs. Available bookstores and public libraries. We will be meeting and having lunch with Stefano Fusi, ex mayor of Tavarnelle and his NZ wife Jill Gabriel on the tour.
Geoffrey Cox: The Race for Trieste. Whitcoulls (1977). Eloquent and riveting account of the last days of the NZ WW2 endeavour in Italy – a key work on the clash with Tito. Available in public libraries and some second hand bookshops (Smiths in Christchurch).
Jan Morris: Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere. (Paperback) London: Faber and Faber (2001) A sublime meditation on a most unusual city. Wonderful background reading to a visit to Trieste. Available in public libraries, online bookstores and on Kindle.
Tony Simpson: Ambiguity & Innocence. The New Zealand Division and the Occupation of Trieste, May 1945. Paekakariki: Silver Owl Press (2013). A history of Trieste with a focus on the confrontation between the New Zealand Division and the battle-hardened partisans. An ‘impressive and impressively sympathetic untangling… of a tortuous story’(New Zealand Books). Available in public libraries and some bookshops.
Giorgio Bassani: The Garden of the Finzi Continis. (1962) This is a 2007 translation by James McKendrick which hopefully is better than the original one by William Weaver. A haunting, elegiac novel which captures the mood and atmosphere of Italy (and in particular Ferrara) in the last summers of the thirties to the outbreak of WW2, focusing on an aristocratic Jewish family moving imperceptibly towards its doom. Vittorio De Sica turned the book into a film in 1970, winning the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1974. Available in public libraries, online bookstores.
Dan Davin: The Salamander and the Fire: collected war stories. Auckland: OUP (1986). ‘Salamander’ was the name given by Churchill to Freyburg – after the mythical creature that could survive fire. The characters are mainly men from the New Zealand Division seen in battle, and in the intervals between battle, sometimes scared, bored, drunk, and disillusioned, like soldiers everywhere. Available online bookstores and public libraries.
Dasa Drndic: Trieste (2012), about an old Italian woman's memories of the Nazi era as she finally awaits a reunion with her son, who was taken from her by the Lebensborn program. Available in public libraries, online stores and on Kindle.
Beppe Fenoglio: Johnny the Partisan. First published in English in 1985. Considered the best Italian partisan (autobiographical) novel. Not easily available - there was also a film by the same name made in 2000. We’ll be seeing a monument to Fenoglio in Alba.
Beppe Fenoglio: A Private Affair. Hesperus Modern Voices (2007). First English translation. A story of partisans in the Piedmontese hills after the 8 September armistice. Best source for this is Abe Books online.
Kate Furnivall: The Italian Wife. London: Sphere (2014). If you like you crime fiction with dash of history, and a side serving of romance, then this book by the Welsh born writer may be a good pick. Set in Italy at the height of Mussolini’s rule, this is the story of architect Isabella Berotti who, through tragic circumstances, becomes the sole carer of a 10-year-old girl. With Italy now firmly a police state, Isabella and her photographer friend Roberto Falco try to keep the girl from being put into an institution. As they begin to discover the truth behind the death of the girl’s mother they are drawn into a dangerous game of secrets and intrigue. Some lighter reading to accompany your travels. Available everywhere, including on Kindle.
Patricia Grace: Tu. Auckland: Penguin (2004). Beautiful and touching story of the often terrifying and complex world faced by men of the Maori Battalion in Italy during the Second World War. Patricia Grace has drawn on the war experiences of her father and other relatives and gives poignant scenes of the battles at Monte Cassino. The result is a novel of great authenticity and high drama from one of our finest storytellers. Available at public libraries, bookshops (possibly), online bookstores and on Kindle.
Lucretia Grindle: Villa Triste. Paperback (2013). A murder mystery set in 2006 Florence, with long flashbacks to partisans who fought the Germans in 1943 and 1944. A very absorbing read. Available in public libraries, online bookstores and on Kindle.
Carlo, Lucarelli, Carte Blanche. Engl. Trans. New York: Europa Editions, 2006. First book of a crime fiction trilogy set during Fascism and WWII. Available at Wellington City Library.
---. The Damned Season. Engl. Trans. New York: Europa Editions, 2007. Second book of a crime fiction trilogy set during Fascism and WWII. Available at Wellington City Library.
---. Via delle Oche, Engl. Trans. New York: Europa editions, 2008. Third book of a crime fiction trilogy set during Fascism and WWII. Available at Wellington City Library.
Elsa Morante: History. This was an extremely controversial but bestselling book when it appeared in 1974 in Italy. However, the polemics centered upon Morante's style and breaking with the literary ideals espoused at the time by the Marxist Italian literary establishment, rather than the historical content of the novel, which traces an Italian-Jewish family's struggles from the turn of the century through approx. the 1960s (when the last character dies). There is an interesting portrayal of the effect of the Italian racial laws of 1938 as well as of the notorious October 1943 roundup of Rome's Jews. Available in online bookstores.
Alberto Moravia: The Conformist. English Trans. Steerforth, 1999. Secrecy and Silence are second nature to Marcello Clerici, the hero of The Conformist, a book which made Alberto Moravia one of the world's most read postwar writers. Clerici is a man with everything under control - a wife who loves him, colleagues who respect him, the hidden power that comes with his secret work for the Italian political police during the Mussolini years. But then he is assigned to kill his former professor, now in exile, to demonstrate his loyalty to the Fascist state, and falls in love with a strange, compelling woman; his life is torn open - and with it the corrupt heart of Fascism. Available in online bookstores.
---. Two Women. Engl. Trans. Zoland Books, 2001. First published in English in 1958, Two Women is a compassionate yet forthright narrative of simple people struggling to survive during WWII. The two women are Cesira, a widowed Roman shopkeeper, and her daughter Rosetta, a naive teenager of haunting beauty and devout faith. Available in online bookstores.
Cesare Pavese: The Moon and the Bonfires. English translation (Flint 2002). Various editions. Considered Pavese’s best novel. Set in Piedmont, the hero returns home from the US after the war to discover many changes in his home town – and a secret and savage history from the war. Public libraries and online bookstores.
Cesare Pavese: The House on the Hill. Another Pavese masterpiece, set in the hills around Turin in Piedmont, during the Second World War. Available at Wellington Public Library and online bookstores.
Bernardo Bertolucci, The Conformist, 1970. The screenplay was written by Bertolucci based on the 1951 novel The Conformist by Alberto Moravia. The film features Jean-Louis Trintignant and Stefania Sandrelli, among others. The film was a co-production of Italian, French, and West German film companies. Bertolucci makes use of the 1930s art and decor associated with the Fascist era: the middle-class drawing rooms and the huge halls of the ruling elite. Partially set in the EUR area of Rome.
Guido Chiesa, Johnny, the Partisan, 2000. After the 8th September 1943 north of Italy is occupied by Germans. Italian army collapsed and the soldiers are escaped to the mountains trying to set up a resistance. Many civilians did the same and Johnny, an English literature student, is among them. Johnny avoids to band together the red partisans (communists) and tries to be part of the azure bands (former regular soldiers). But in both cases he is deluded by the partisan bands and discovers that the partisan war is less poetic and genuine that he thought. At one point anyway the partisans free Alba from Germans. When the city falls again in German hands Johnny escape with Ettore and Pierre. But, one after another, German army and Italian fascists captures the partisans and Johnny will pass the winter alone and isolated. He then finds the way to participate to one of the last attack to occupants, in fact the war will be over two months later.
Vittorio De Sica, The Garden of the Finzi-Contini, 1970. In the late 1930s, in Ferrara, Italy, the Finzi-Contini are one of the leading families, wealthy, aristocratic, urbane; they are also Jewish. Their adult children, Micol and Alberto, gather a circle of friends for constant rounds of tennis and parties at their villa with its lovely grounds, keeping the rest of the world at bay. Into the circle steps Giorgio, a Jew from the middle class who falls in love with Micol. She seems to toy with him, and even makes love to one of his friends while she knows Giorgio is watching. While his love cannot seem to break through to her to draw her out of her garden idyll, the forces of politics close in.
Enzo Monteleone, El Alamein, 2002. This military drama depicts the many hardships endured by Italian soldiers stationed in Africa during World War II. A student persuaded into fighting for the Axis, Pvt. Serra (Paolo Briguglia) is unfamiliar with life in the service and bewildered by the unit's stark desert surroundings. Fighting the British under Lt. Fiore (Emilio Solfrizzi) and Sgt. Rizzo (Pierfrancesco Favino), Serra must contend with the unforgiving elements as well as confusing commands from his superiors.
Gaylene Preston, Home by Christmas, 2010. A true story of romance, secrets and terrible adventure in which Ed Preston, on his way home from rugby practice in 1940, joins the New Zealand Army to go to World War II. His new wife, Tui, is pregnant and distraught, but he tells her not to worry, he’ll be home by Christmas. And so he is – four years later – after escaping from a prison camp in Italy. But while Ed is away, Tui has fallen in love with another man. A remarkable story of resilience, determination and love.
Roberto Rossellini, Rome, Open City, 1945. The picture features Aldo Fabrizi, Anna Magnani and Marcello Pagliero, and is set in Rome during the Nazi occupation in 1944. The film won several awards at various film festivals, including the most prestigious Cannes' Grand Prize, and was also nominated for the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar at the 19th Academy Awards.
Gabriele Salvatores, Mediterraneo, 1991. This movie won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1991. The film is set during World War II, and regards a group of Italian soldiers who become stranded on a Greek island and are left behind by the war. The filming took place on the Greek island of Kastellórizo, in the Dodecanese island complex.