The Surprising Love Life of a Dictator: Background information when reading The Pope and Mussolini

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The Pope and Mussolini

The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe

by David I. Kertzer

The Pope and Mussolini
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2014, 576 pages
    Dec 2014, 592 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Linda Hitchcock

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About this Book

Beyond the Book:
The Surprising Love Life of a Dictator

Political power seems to be an eternally compelling aphrodisiac. Benito Mussolini was a legendary Lothario who is estimated to have experienced casual sexual relations during his years as a dictator with as many as 5,000 women. Italian archives contain the guest registers listing the arrival and departure times of these "Fascist visitors," the preferred euphemism for the often nameless lovers and contain confirmation of the trysts in written statements from Mussolini's long-time valet Quinto Navarra.

Mussolini was an unlikely sex symbol. No towering Adonis, the "Knight" was a mere 5'6" in his tall, tight boots, and by late middle age, the youthful chiseled features had softened to rounded cheeks, a bald dome atop a plump torso and with anecdotally less than fastidious personal hygiene. This peacock strutted in a variety of ornately embellished, medal-encrusted uniforms or posed bare-chested for paparazzi.

Mussolini's complicated, long-term relationships included a handful of ...

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