Book Review: Some Recent Books about Garibaldi

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"The Hero of the Two Worlds"

 
Despite his heroic status in the English-speaking world during the nineteenth century, there was surprisingly little fanfare in Britain or America for the bicentennial of Giuseppe Garibaldi's birth in 2007.  Nevertheless, two excellent new books did see print, as well as a new edition of his memoirs.
 

Garibaldi: Invention of a Hero by Lucy Riall.  New Haven : Yale University Press, 2007.  Pp. xiv, 482.  Illus, maps, notes, biblio., index.  $35.00.  ISBN: 978-0-30011-212-2.

Garibaldi: Citizen of the World: A Biography , by Alfonso Scirocco, translated by Allan Cameron.  Princeton : Princeton University Press, 2007.  Pp. xii, 442.  Chron., biblio., index.  $35.00.  ISBN: 978-0-691-11540-5.
 
My Life (Hesperus Classics) by Giuseppe Garibaldi, translated and edited by Stephen Parkin.  London : Hesperus Press, 2004.  Pp. li, 173.  Illus, maps, index.  $17.95 paper.  I SBN: 978-1843-91093-0.

Although they necessarily overlap a good deal, these works are complementary, rather than competitive. 

Prof. Scirocco, a veteran historian from the University of Naples Federico II , has written a comprehensive biography nearly half of which deals with Garibaldi's life and adventures before his conduct of the defense of the Republic of Rome in 1848-1849 turned him into a popular hero in Europe and North America.  Scirocco provides an often blow-by-blow treatment of Garibaldi's many battles, but also discusses how the great hero made his living, and the evolution of the man's thoughts on war and peace, democracy, and society.

In contrast, Prof. Riall, of Birkbeck College, London, a rising star in Risorgimento studies, while providing a solid look at Garibaldi's life and works, devotes more attention to the man as mythic hero; how Garibaldi's deeds and goals helped shape his image, how that image shaped the man, and the political and cultural consequences of the Garibaldi phenomenon, which endured well into the twentieth century, and remains potent in the political and cultural life of Italy, on both the left and the right.

The new edition of Garibaldi's memoirs is unique because it is the first translation into English from his original corrected manuscript, all previous translations having been made from published versions, often of the French edition.

All three volumes will be of interest to students of the Risorgimento, the hero in history, and the phenomenon of the romantic revolutionary.



 
Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   


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