Ginsborg, Paul (Anthony) 1945-

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GINSBORG, Paul (Anthony) 1945-

PERSONAL:

Born 1945, in London, England.

ADDRESSES:

Office—Department of Geography, University of Florence, Via S. Gallo, 10-50129, Florence, Italy. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Allen Lane, Penguin Putnam, 345 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014. E-mail—[email protected].

CAREER:

Historian and educator. Churchill College, Cambridge, England, member of faculty; University of Florence, Florence, Italy, professor of contemporary European history, 1992—. Visiting professor at University of Turin and University of Siena.

WRITINGS:

The Politics of Lenin (pamphlet), International Socialists (London, England), 1974.

Daniele Manin and the Venetian Revolution of 1848-49, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1979.

Storia d'Italia dal dopoguerra a oggi: società e politica, 1943-1988, Einaudi (Turin, Italy), 1989, published as A History of Contemporary Italy: Society and Politics, 1943-1988 ("Penguin History" series), Penguin Books (New York, NY), 1990.

(Editor, with John A. Davis) Society and Politics in the Age of the Risorgimento: Essays in Honour of Denis Mack Smith, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1991.

(Editor) Stato dell'Italia, Saggiatore (Milan, Italy), 1994.

L'Italia del tempo presente: famiglia, società civile, stato, 1980-1996 ("Gli Struzzi" series), Einaudi (Turin, Italy), 1998, revised and translated as Italy and Its Discontents: Family, Civil Society, State, 1980-2001, Allen Lane (New York, NY), 2001.

(Editor, with Francesco Ramella) Un'Italia minore: famiglia, istruzione e tradizioni civiche in Valdelsa, Giunti (Florence, Italy), 1999.

Silvio Berlusconi: Television, Power, and Patrimony, Verso Books (New York, NY), 2004.

Contributor to periodicals, including New Left Review.

SIDELIGHTS:

Paul Ginsborg, a preeminent authority on contemporary Italian history, left Cambridge University to take a position at the University of Florence in 1992. By then, Ginsborg had published several volumes, among them Daniele Manin and the Venetian Revolution of 1848-49. In reviewing this book in the Times Literary Supplement, Harry Hearder wrote that "it is a rare and agreeable experience to review a first book by a historian who writes with such distinction and elegance."

John Rosselli said in English Historical Review that "to the patchy English-language historiography of the Risorgimento, Dr. Ginsborg adds a full, deeply researched study of an episode that has caught many people's imagination—the revival of the Venetian Republic and the defense of the city of Venice as the last bit of revolutionary Italy to fall to the reaction of 1849."

Ginsborg's first history of contemporary Italy was printed first in Italian, then in English as A History of Contemporary Italy: Society and Politics, 1943-1988. In it, he studies the postwar struggles of labor and the social movements, including the armed resistance and peasant land occupations of the 1940s, the student and worker movements of the 1960s, and the democracy and feminist movements of the 1970s. He also notes the urban population increases of the 1950s that saw the southern cities grow by ten million people in fifteen years. He writes of Italy's postwar political history and examines the part played by both the Catholics and the Communists in shaping Italy's future.

Ginsborg follows Italy's rise to become the world's fifth largest industrial power by 1987. He finds, however, that the failure of the State to make critical reforms alienated Italy's citizens as the country progressed. Christopher Duggan noted in the Times Literary Supplement that Ginsborg calls up the observations of the Marxist intellectual Antonio Gramsci, who died in 1937 in prison, and who "identified as the crux of Italy's development since 1860 the inability of the country's ruling class to win the support of the masses. Ginsborg's application of this seminal idea to Italy since 1943 results in a rich blend of social and political history, in which the problems of Sicilian day laborers, Tuscan sharecroppers, and migrant workers in Turin are juxtaposed with analyses of the State's (usually inadequate) responses."

Duggan concluded by saying that A History of Contemporary Italy "is a work of major importance.… No future account of the Italian republic will be able to ignore it. It is written with style, and manages the rare feat of combining political and social analysis with readability. Above all, Paul Ginsborg never forgets that people are the true subject of history."

In 1998, Ginsborg wrote L'Italia del tempo presente: famiglia, società civile, stato, 1980-1996, translated and revised as Italy and Its Discontents: Family, Civil Society, State, 1980-2001. Modern Italy continues to boast a strong economy, as well as the lowest birth rate in the world and one of the highest standards of living. It is also second only to the United States in automobile ownership. Ginsborg looks at these advances through the three institutions named in the subtitle. The twenty-two separate governments, most of them coalitions, that have ruled Italy since 1980 are covered, up to and including the second term of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, beginning in 2001.

"To his credit," wrote Stanislao G. Pugliese in the New York Times Book Review, "Ginsborg shuns easy interpretations." Instead, he sees the flaws of Italian society as being "the result of a complex relationship between the individual and the state, with the family acting as intermediary."

In his book, Ginsborg criticizes commercial television, most of which was owned by Berlusconi at the writing of the book, as being a negative influence on families in which overindulgent parents have become avid consumers. Although he makes a compelling case for the presence of political corruption and incompetence, he firmly lays the responsibility for societal reform on the citizens of Italy, both as individuals and as members of families. Pugliese concluded by saying that Italy and Its Discontents "radiates the paradoxes and ironies that abound in a troubled country."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

British Book News, January, 1980, Roger Bullen, review of Daniele Manin and the Venetian Revolution of 1848-49, p. 63.

Choice, February, 1980, review of Daniele Manin and the Venetian Revolution of 1848-49, p. 1634.

Economist, February 9, 2002, review of Italy and Its Discontents: Family, Civil Society, State, 1980-2001, p. 74.

English Historical Review, July, 1980, John Rosselli, review of Daniele Manin and the Venetian Revolution of 1848-49, pp. 637-638.

European History Quarterly, January, 1993, Anna Cento Bull, review of Society and Politics in the Age of the Risorgimento: Essays in Honour of Denis Mack Smith, pp. 134-139.

Guardian, March 2, 2002, Alexander Chancellor, review of Italy and Its Discontents.

Journal of Modern History, September, 1994, Victoria de Grazia, review of A History of Contemporary Italy: Society and Politics, 1943-1988, pp. 635-638.

Library Journal, February 1, 2003, David I. Fulton, review of Italy and Its Discontents, p. 104.

New York Times Book Review, February 23, 2003, Stanislao G. Pugliese, review of Italy and Its Discontents, p. 20.

Observer (London, England), February 10, 2002, John Dickie, review of Italy and Its Discontents, p. 17.

Publishers Weekly, December 16, 2002, review of Italy and Its Discontents, p. 58.

Spectator, March 2, 2002, Caroline Moorehead, review of Italy and Its Discontents, pp. 39-40.

Times Higher Education Supplement, May 14, 1999, Paul Bompard, "Star turn: Paul Ginsborg," pp. 36-37; September 27, 2002, Domenico Pacitti, review of Italy and Its Discontents.

Times Literary Supplement, March 7, 1980, Harry Hearder, review of Daniele Manin and the Venetian Revolution of 1848-49, p. 277; September 28, 1990, Christopher Duggan, review of A History of Contemporary Italy, pp. 1025-1026.

ONLINE

H-Net Reviews,http://www.h-net.org/ (April 16, 2003), Roberto A. Ventresca, review of L'Italia del tempo presente: famiglia, società civile, stato, 1980-1996.

Institute of Historical Research Web site,http://www.history.ac.uk/ (January, 2003), Mark Donovan, review of Italy and Its Discontents.

Socialist Review Online,http://www.socialistreview.org.uk/ (March, 2002), Tom Behan, review of Italy and Its Discontents.*

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