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The Italians

by John Hooper

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1632125,672 (3.75)10
How can a nation that spawned the Renaissance have produced the Mafia? How could people concerned with bella figura (keeping up appearances) have elected Silvio Berlusconi as their leader, not once, but three times? Sublime and maddening, fascinating yet baffling, Italy is a country of seemingly unsolvable riddles. John Hooper's entertaining and perceptive new book is the ideal companion for anyone seeking to understand contemporary Italy and the unique character of the Italians. Digging deep into their history, culture, and religion, Hooper offers keys to understanding everything from their bewildering politics to their love of life and beauty. Looking at the facts that lie behind the stereotypes, he sheds new light on many aspects of Italian life-- football and Freemasonry, sex, symbolism, and the reason why Italian has twelve words for a coat hanger, yet none for a hangover. Even readers who think they know Italy well will be surprised, challenged, and delighted by The Italians.… (more)

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Showing 2 of 2
I read a copy from the library. I now have a library fine because it took me a while to get through it. But...that was because I was trying to absorb it. I loved it. I wanted to take in every word, and understand it fully. What a book.
If you ever felt that you wanted to understand Italy more than what you could glean from [b:Under the Tuscan Sun|480479|Under the Tuscan Sun|Frances Mayes|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320524083s/480479.jpg|940760] or from [b:A Room with a View|3087|A Room with a View|E.M. Forster|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1388781285s/3087.jpg|4574872], then this is the book for you.
Rich words. Evocative writing. The author set an amazing scene. If only he'd been my history teacher at school.
I shall now go and buy a copy for myself to keep on my bookshelf. ( )
  Kiwimrsmac | Nov 29, 2017 |
John Hooper is eminently qualified to write a book about what makes the Italians Italian: he's currently the Italy correspondent for "The Economist" and "The Guardian", and has lived the the country for many years. And he has produced a very good book, looking at the social and cultural phenomena that underlie Italy's political and economic malaise. Though he moves (amusingly) from topic to topic, some underlying themes emerge -- a deep conservatism, a focus on the family rather than on broader social units, and a cautious approach to life in general. These conclusions reminded me of those I drew from Luigi Barzini's book "The Italians", published fifty years ago -- a book to which Mr. Hooper pays frequent and generous homage. Mr. Hooper's book is pleasant to read and full of interesting and amusing anecdotes. It may not quite measure up to the earlier "The Italians", but enough has changed to make an update well worthwhile. ( )
  annbury | Mar 18, 2015 |
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John Hooper refuses to succumb to easy cliche while explaining the best and worst of Italy.
added by inge87 | editThe Guardian, John Kampfner (Jan 26, 2015)
 
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How can a nation that spawned the Renaissance have produced the Mafia? How could people concerned with bella figura (keeping up appearances) have elected Silvio Berlusconi as their leader, not once, but three times? Sublime and maddening, fascinating yet baffling, Italy is a country of seemingly unsolvable riddles. John Hooper's entertaining and perceptive new book is the ideal companion for anyone seeking to understand contemporary Italy and the unique character of the Italians. Digging deep into their history, culture, and religion, Hooper offers keys to understanding everything from their bewildering politics to their love of life and beauty. Looking at the facts that lie behind the stereotypes, he sheds new light on many aspects of Italian life-- football and Freemasonry, sex, symbolism, and the reason why Italian has twelve words for a coat hanger, yet none for a hangover. Even readers who think they know Italy well will be surprised, challenged, and delighted by The Italians.

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