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Il Duce's Enemies

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A Bold and Dangerous Family: The Rossellis and the Fight Against Mussolini by Caroline Moorehead reviewed by R J B Bosworth

The Rosselli brothers, Carlo and Nello, are best known through their fate, portrayed by the great Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci, in the 1970 film based on Alberto Moravia’s novel Il Conformista (The Conformist, 1947). The two Rossellis were victims of bloody murder in a forested roadside near the spa of Bagnoles-de-l’Orne on the evening of 9th June 1937. The killers were a gang of Cagoulards, French fascists. They were acting on the mandate of Galeazzo Ciano and Dino Alfieri, two gilded young men from the elite of Fascist Italy; Ciano was Mussolini’s son-in-law and the youngest Foreign Minister in Europe. The representation of this brutal killing by Bertolucci and Moravia, the latter a cousin of the Rossellis (Moravia was a pseudonym; his real name was Pincherle) is dramatic but scarcely historical. Indeed, the two brothers are merged into a single, oldish  man, named ‘Quadri’. In the film, he is dressed...

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