Last month I heard from someone who read my book and hated it. Why? Because I portrayed Mussolini as the villain, and not the hero. This comment set me back a bit. Who was this fan? Apparently, she was born in Italy and emigrated to the U.S.A. decades ago, but had fond memories of the hero Mussolini, who ushered Italy into the modern age.
It’s true, no doubt that Mussolini brought many modern advances to Italy and helped to unify a country that was historically a loose confederation of provinces, more than a nation. But at what cost to its people? After twenty two years of his iron-fisted rule, he was executed by a firing squad and hung by his heels in a public square in Milan to send the message that his death was a fitting end for a tyrant.
Mussolini was a complex man, no doubt, who was capable of good as much as evil. But this is the ultimate contradiction of evil–isn’t it? It wears many disguises and can fool virtually everyone.