Tobias Jones: The Dark Heart of Italy



With the arrest of Mussolini Now that is an idea that ou can run with Italy is different because of its history It is the sum of its past It is not just weirdIn Jones favour he does love various aspects of Italian culture He loves the food craftsmanship and communal solidarity And football Yes the Italians play the beautiful game beautifully but cynically I would suggest reading the third or later editions because of the postscripts that are really realisations of further complexity He realises that the nepotism and corruption that infects Italian society is also a form of solidarity Most Italians went to the same school in the same neighbourhood or village It is harder to puritanically denounce Undercover Pregnancy your old school mate thatou see every day than ou think Understandably forgiveness is given freelyI was reading a Facebook post from my father s home town of Trieste It was in Italian and my Italian comprehension is shamefully bad but I started to depressingly realise that it was about a homeless Italian woman living in a car because supposedly all the emergency accommodation was taken up by Africans and ArabsHere we go I thought a racist meme appealing to the racist scum This was its obvious trope I also prepared myself for the inevitable left denunciation of the racists lies etc To my surprise the posts were nearly all like I have a room in my apartment that she can have until she gets on her feet My mother is on holidays for two months I just need to contact her first but I know she won t mind if the woman stays etc Italy and Italians are very far from perfect but on an individual level the first response is generosity and that can only be a good place to start from What s the problem with the Italian football Why decent and smart British authors like say Nick Hornby Tim Parks and John Foot were are so fascinated by that unimportant part of our culture Where is the romanticism in contemporary Italian football I wonderWhere is the fair play the chivalry the gritFor Tobias Jones has been deceived tooLet s put ourselves in his football shoes for a few linesI am a British journal Murder bombings money laundering fraud conspiracies monopolies Fascism Communism the mafia wealth and an endless diet of prurient television This was Italian politics under Berlusconi in a nutshell This book prizes open the nutshell and gives us all the gory detailsIt also gives us fascinating insights into Italian culture generally and is for the most part absolutely riveting I had no idea that Italian culture was so very different from what we experience here in the UK I d had a whiff that their politics were a tad outrageous our newspapers regularly had Yikes I don t believe it moments about Berlusconi s behaviourbut I knew very little about modern Italian culture This book is a fantastic read for anyone wanting to get beyond the usual expat odes to Italy Most of us who have been there fell in love with the country but Tobias Jones is different Whilst there are aspects he obviously enjoys this is not a love storyTalking about reading herewith an extract from the book about the reading habits of Italians which I found amusing Jones is a Guardian journalist and in Italy he was teaching literature classes at a university so his views may be slightly jaundicedview spoiler Italy is unlike Britain a visual rather than a literary country Perhaps because there s such a forest of legal and bureaucratic language very few people read newspapers even fewer buy or borrow books Research shows that a massive percentage of Italian adults don t read one book a ear On public transport in Britain half the passengers might be reading in Italy they will be eyeing each other or else reading the Settimana Enigmistica a magazine of riddles and crosswords There is one uickly notices no populist press and there will be an Italian bestseller Andrea Camilleri is the latest example only once a decadeReading when it s done at all is done under duress None of my students I get the impression has ever read a book for pleasure hide spoiler. Om Padre Nostro Our Father to Cosa Nostra the MafiaThe Italy that emerges from Jones's travels is a country scarred by civil wars and illustrious corpses; a country that is proudly visual rather than verbal based on aesthetics rather than ethics; a country where crime is hardly ever followed by punishment; a place of incredible illusionism where it is impossible to distinguish fantasy from reality and fact from fiction.

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Tend to a statute of limitations a seek a legislative or bureaucratic legal decriminalization or just get their crimes ignored There is a colorful chapter showing how corruption extends to sports through policies that would never be tolerated in the USThe author ties these problems of a weak government to the country s extreme polarization Italy has a strong right wing with a revival of the Fascist Party and left wing with the largest Communist Party in Europe Here Jones gives background with a mind numbing number of people political parties and events There is a chapter devoted to Berlusconi The book now 13 Hummer years old is prescient about Berlusconi s administrative accomplishments and staying power For a in depth look at the Berlusconi era The Sack of Rome How a Beautiful European Country with a Fabled History and a Storied Culture Was Taken Over by a Man Named Silvio BerlusconiWhile it holds together as a book it seems to be series of stand alone essays There is no note of this but concepts like Clean Hands are defined as though they had not been previously discussed In Chapter 7 Jones refers to his girlfriend and 8 a flat mate whereas in many previous chapters he writes of his wife Many chapters have large sections in italic print since these sections are not attributed I am guessing this could be material inserted from different previously published pieces by JonesThe book is not comprehensive and probably wasn t meant to be The mafia in its various forms ie Cammora Ndangheta is not singled out but is mentioned in the political and financial sections The low birth rate which is curious for this family oriented Catholic country is not discussed Neither is the influx of immigrantsWhile book is over 13ears old it is still informative The author s keen observations span decades and are presented in an entertaining and at time humorous style Being one of the first generation Italian or precisely Sicilian Australians Italy has always intrigued me as the place of origin of both my parents who came over between the wars I grew up with a Sicilian bias but soon discovered that Italy with its stunningly beautiful landscapes its language cuisine culture art architecture and music have a formidable reputation is the culture of the West There is much to be proud aboutBut for the modern Italian there is also the often murky understanding of what the country is politically and the often confounding and perplexing nature of living life within this scenarioAs a nation Italy has a comparatively With Baited Breath (Warhammer 40,000) young identity stemming from its unification in the 19th century but that unification is perhaps illusory there remains the divide between North and South and since the two world wars a further divide between Fascists and Communists In the meantime there is the prevailing presence of of the ages old Roman Catholic Church and the peculiarly ritualistic and sometimes superstitious versions of Christianity that is Italian to the core regardless of any other influence plus the pervasive presence of the various Mafia organisations In Italy and perhaps in Italy alone all these forces have somehow coalesced into a kind of uagmire of competing and conflicting demands aided and abetted by an astonishingly complex and stifling bureaucracy All of these forces have tentacles within each of the others all feeding off the same political energies all achieving little if anything but keeping itself somehow alive despite or becau Ifou want to understand modern Italy in all her shame and glory this is as good as any place to start At first while I enjoyed this book I found it rather annoying Yes Italy and Italians are different from Anglo Saxons Pop someone from one culture into another and of course they will they think it is weird It is when Tobias Jones tries to get to the nitty gritty of why for instance Italian politics spawned Berlusconi terrorism and has infamously fractious but has ultimately stultifying politics that I become interested His main thesis is that Italy has an unfinished civil war that started in 1943. Stranger sides of the Bel Paese the language soccer Catholicism cinema television and terrorism Why he wonders does the parliament need a slaughter commission Why do bombs still explode every time politics start getting serious Why does everyone urge him to go home as soon as possible saying that Italy is a brothel Most of all why does one man Silvio Berlusconi in the words of a famous song appear to own everything fr.

Really enjoyed this book I m a tad obsessed with all things relating to Italy and so this was really the book for me I liked it because it gave a different perspective on Italy one that ou don t normally read about of a glimpse into the truth of Italy However it loses a star because while reading it I couldn t help but think it was a tad outdated I kept thinking what impact has X had on Italy and whether the portrayal of Italy in the book is really an accurate portrayal of Italy as it is in the ear 2014 A bit dated but overall an excellent read Some parts really were stranger than fiction and aspects of it do make for lively dinner table discussion if The Alcohol Experiment you re looking for that I had been wanting to read this since arriving in Italy and oneear later I finally got around to it Tobias Jones provides a fascinating account of life in il Bel Pease without bothering to conceal the nastier bits rather he focuses on them The good Certain things I knew but wasn t sure why ie Berlusconi bad and this book provided me with the why Jones also writes in a very readable style and on several topics football politics television so that the subject matter covers a wide scope of things The bad having lived here for a Menggairahkan Perjalanan Halaqah year the majority of what Jones writes about are things I d or less already realized myself case in point Italian In a readable style Jones discusses Italy and Italians He even manages to make the political situation clearer Anyone would enjoy this book who is the least bit interested in Italy Stendhal wrote that the feeling one gets from living in Italy is akin to that of being in love I know what he means and so does Tobias Jones no relation I read this book to try to understand otherwise incomprehensible Italian politics the Berlusconi phenomenon in particular and I wasn t disappointed After a couple of weeks of reading and re reading I can t get my hair to lie down The book didn t tell me anything I didn t suspect after 12ears of coming and going but it still shocked me by the extent of the revelations Tobias moved to Italy because he had an Italian girlfriend fell in love with the place and didn t want to leave His work as a journalist exposing the dark side of Italian political affairs took him into areas of Italian life few dare to venture He researched the terrorist attacks of the Anni di Piombi the Spiritual Warfare for Every Christian years of lead 1970s and 80s bombs shootings mass terror the deaths of magistrates judges and politicians the s Easy reading overview of contemporary Italian politics with a bit of culture thrown in It s journalistic than literary and parses politics than a casual reader might hope for but Jones leaves some wonderful passages scattered throughout to keep one going And the book s now newly relevant with the recent reelection of Berlusconi ifour first and final response to news accounts of Italian politics is what the hell this offers as good a place as any to start pulling apart the threads Chapters on sports religion politics politics again and a half chapter on funeral customs dig beneath Italy s engaging culture While the book shows the Italy the tourist doesn t see the title does not fully represent the book Tobias Jones also shows how much he loves and appreciates the beautiful country and the Italian peopleThe first chapter sets the mood Through Italian etymology Jones demonstrates the mood and values of the country Throughout the book Jones uses and translates colorful Italian idioms He ties it up in the end describing some words for which there is no English euivalentThe dark heart of Italy is its governance Jones shows the frustration of the ordinary citizen in dealing with a deeply rooted bureaucracy One of many examples is the author s own job search which was fruitless until a friend made a call and his pay which had many deductions and took 13 months to receive This compares to those with connections who can blithely use or ignore the system There are examples of complex financial crimes and abusivisma illegal construction The privileged can make appeals that can ex. In 1999 Tobias Jones immigrated to Italy expecting to discover the pastoral bliss described by centuries of foreign visitors Instead he found a very different country one besieged by unfathomable terrorism and deep seated paranoia The Dark Heart of Italy is Jones's account of his four ear voyage across the Italian peninsulaJones writes not just about Italy's art climate and cuisine but also about the much livelier and.

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Tobias Jones was on the staff of the London Review of Books and the Independent on Sunday before moving to Parma in 1999 He is a regular contributor for the British and Italian press