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In the heart of Rome beside the Capitol, confronting the Piazza Venezia, stands the Victor Emmanuel monument. In Rome, which until 1945 was so often accorded the adjectives 'eternal' or 'imperial', the monumentissimo (as sardonic socialists labelled it) is the most public, most theatrical and most excessive architectural celebration of post-Risorgimento Italian patriotism, nationalism and perhaps imperialism. This book asks why the Victor Emmanuel monument, planned after 1878 and opened in 1911, was a structure raised by Liberal and not Fascist Italy. Through a detailed study of diplomacy, of policy-making, of policy-makers, and of the distribution of real power in pre-First World War Italy, it demonstrates how important foreign policy, and a foreign policy of greatness, was to Liberal Italy. Weakened by economic backwardness, regional diversity, and the gulf between the legal-political world and 'real' society, Liberal Italy was nonetheless ambitious to be a Great Power. This monograph contributes to a number of major historiographical debates. It produces evidence which casts doubts on the thesis that fascism was a parenthesis in Italian history.
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