Claretta Mussolini's Last Lover R. J. B. Bosworth

Publication date:
21 Feb 2017
Yale University Press
320 pages: 235 x 156mm
24 b/w illus.

A master historian illuminates the tumultuous relationship of Il Duce and his young lover Claretta, whose extraordinarily intimate diaries only recently have become available

Few deaths are as gruesome and infamous as those of Benito Mussolini, Italy’s fascist dictator, and Claretta (or Clara) Petacci, his much-younger lover. Shot dead by Italian partisans after attempting to flee the country in 1945, the couple’s bodies were then hanged upside down in Milan’s main square in ignominious public display. This provocative book is the first to mine Clara’s extensive diaries, family correspondence, and other sources to discover how the last in Mussolini’s long line of lovers became his intimate and how she came to her violent fate at his side.
R. J. B. Bosworth explores the social climbing of Claretta’s family, her naïve and self-interested commitment to fascism, her diary’s graphically detailed accounts of sexual life with Mussolini, and much more. Brimful of new and arresting information, the book sheds intimate light not only on an ordinary-extraordinary woman living at the heart of Italy’s totalitarian fascist state but also on Mussolini himself.

R. J. B. Bosworth is senior research fellow in history, Jesus College, Oxford. A renowned Italianist, he is the author of more than two dozen books on Mussolini, fascism, and Italy’s twentieth-century experience. He lives in Oxford, UK.

“What makes R.J.B Bosworth’s new book so captivating is not just the picture he paints of their affair, based on diaries, letters and police reports, but also the light he throws on the corrupt, greedy, scheming world of the Fascist leadership… Bosworth, the author of some twenty books on the Mussolini years, is one of the finest historians of modern Italy, and his deep knowledge and understanding, as well as his formidable research, inform every page of this enjoyable biography.”—Caroline Moorhead, Literary Review, 10th February 2017.