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Catalog Archive / Spring 2021

Respectability and Violence
Military Values, Masculine Honor, and Italy’s Road to Mass Death
Translated by Zakiya Hanafi

George L. Mosse Series in the History of European Culture, Sexuality, and Ideas
Steven E. Ashheim, Skye Doney, Mary Louise Roberts, and David J. Sorkin, Series Editors

“A valuable and irreplaceable contribution to the study of Italian society at the turn of the twentieth century.”
Storia e futuro

In the aftermath of national unification in the 1860s, the Italian army was tasked with molding generations of men from warring regions and different social strata into obedient citizens of a centralized state. Integrating large numbers of the educated middle classes into the young kingdom’s armed forces proved decisive in establishing the army as the “main school” and backbone for mass nationalization. Lorenzo Benadusi examines the intersection of Italian military and civil society over the last century as they coalesced in the figure of the gentleman-officer—an idealized image of an altruistic, charming, and competent ruling class that could influence the choices, values, and behavior of the “new Italians.”

Respectability and Violence traces the relationship between civic virtues and military values from the post-Risorgimento period through the end of World War I, when the trauma of trench warfare made it necessary to again redefine ideas of chivalry and manliness and to accept violence as a necessary tool in defense of society and state. The language of conflict and attitudes about war forged in these decades—characterized by patriotism, heroism, and sacrifice—shaped the cultured bourgeoise into loyalists who ushered in Italy’s transition to a powerful Fascist political system. This unique study of the officer is crucial for understanding the military, social, and political history of Italy.


Lorenzo Benadusi is an associate professor of contemporary history at Roma Tre University. He is the author of The Enemy of the New Man: Homosexuality in Fascist Italy.

Zakiya Hanafi is the author of The Monster in the Machine: Magic, Medicine, and the Marvelous in the Time of the Scientific Revolution.




“Interesting and courageous.”
Il mestiere di storico

“Has the merit of attentively reconstructing an aspect of the great transformation produced by the First World War.”
Gli stati generali

“Offers much food for thought on the Italian war experience and more generally on the processes of our country’s nationalization.”
Mondo contemporaneo



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Of Related Interest


The Enemy of the New Man
Homosexuality in Fascist Italy
Lorenzo Benadusi


Shaping the New Man
Youth Training Regimes in Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany
Alessio Ponzio

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August 2021
LC: 2020055762
416 pp. 6 x 9
7 b/w photos, 5 tables

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Casebound $79.95 S
ISBN 9780299333300
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